Relationships In Twelfth Night

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Shakespeare’s renowned play Twelfth Night centers around love, both in platonic and romantic instances. Characters display elements of self, brotherly, amorous, and friendly love towards one another; however, of the relationships portrayed, the strongest ones are those between men. In contrast, relationships between men and women lack depth and sincerity due to the lapse of communication between the opposing genders. Men are able to express their feelings to one another more freely, which gives their bonds strength that heterosexual relationships fail to display.
The first instance which supports the notion that a lapse of communication is responsible for the unsuccessful nature of heterosexual relationships is the case of Duke Orsino and Countess Olivia’s relationship. Both start the play preoccupied with their own concerns, Orsino is worried about finding love, specifically with Olivia, meanwhile she is busy mourning the death of her brother by refusing to marry anyone for seven years. However, it is Orsino’s obsession with seeking love and how he goes about pursuing Olivia that best exemplifies the problematic nature of a male and female’s relationship. Orsino opened the play by saying of love, “Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, / The appetite may sicken and so die” (1.1.1-3), essentially saying that he so badly craves the feeling being in love gives him, that he would like in so great a quantity that it would end his life. His hunger for love becomes even more
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