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Word Count: 1,548
Good comedies always touch on troubling themes and envisage darker ends than are finally delivered To what extent is this true of Twelfth Night It would be hard to argue that the central theme of Twelfth Night is not simply love and its fulfilment and to subsequently view the play as a set of comic capers which lead to this or simply a ripe love comedy with a happy ending The readeraudience is taken on a romp through a make believe land where no one is as they seem and where intrigue and disguise abound As the fool Feste tells us Nothing that is so is so To argue against the plays intrinsic frivolity and light heartedness would at the outset seem problematic Although Twelfth Night is set in the invented land of Illyria it is not blatantly set in a land of magic and spells like the wood outside Athens in A Midsummer Nights Dream Instead of giving us fanciful fairies Shakespeare gives us almost fanciful personalities rooted in about the same amount of reality as Titania or Oberon If music be the food of love play on Give me excess of it that surfeiting The appetite may sicken and so die From his opening lines Orsino seems more in love with the idea of love itself than with a particular person This seems further reinforced by noting that he does not mention the object of his love Olivia until line 19 of his speech On meeting Olivia we also discover that she is not quite what she has been made out to be We have been told that The element itself till seven years hence Shall not behold her face at ample view But like a cloistress she will veiled walk And water once a day her chamber round With eye-offending brine Ii25-29 As this is in respect of her dead brother we imagine a woman
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