Romantic Love in A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, and Twelfth Night
In all of Shakespeare's plays, there is a definitive style present, a style he perfected. From his very first play (The Comedy of Errors) to his very last (The Tempest), he uses unique symbolism and descriptive poetry to express and explain the actions and events he writes about. Twelfth Night, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream are all tragicomedies that epitomise the best use of the themes and ideology that Shakespeare puts forth.
Naturally, one of the most reoccurring themes in Shakespeare is romantic love. It is perhaps not a coincidence that he put so much emphasis on this elusive and enigmatic emotion. In the Elizabethan age when he was writing, the arts were being explored more fervently, and thus raw human emotions began to surface in the mainstream culture. In Twelfth Night, love is a confusing and fickle thing, as demonstrated in the relationships between Duke Orsino and Olivia; Olivia and Viola/Curio; Malvolio and Olivia (she certainly has an effect on men doesn't she?); Duke Orsino and Viola/Curio. However, the characters seem to have a love-hate relationship with Cupid. Within the first line of the play, it is glorified: "If music be the food of love, play on..." (Duke Orsino, I:I). And while Olivia is annoyed with Orsino's affection, she craves Curio's.
However, Shakespeare also picks on love. Not only did Malvolio's confusion about his and Olivia's relationship prove to add to the comedy, but it rather showed how one can play with love, and use it for another's harm. Apart from this example, love is depicted as a light and lovely emotion.
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, love is used to cause mischief via love spells and tricks. The confusion between Helena, Hermia, Demetrius and Lysander exhibits the uncertainty and inconstancy that often occurs in young love, while Oberon and Titania's fight over the changeling boy perhaps demonstrates the little fights that can occur in lasting relationships or marriages. Shakespeare often writes about fantasy worlds and events, but they are all based on basic human beings and their daily lives. His love for social sciences is clear when one consider's the many plays he wrote based on people in the Greek and Roman Empires(Julius Caesar); also his many other plays written based on actual people (King Lear).
In The Tempest, there are very few references to love, but the one that IS present is very hopeful and positive. Ferdinand and Miranda's love for one another is so innocent and pure. The fact that they are members of the noble class adds to the feeling that there is perhaps hope for the future of the families.
Family and friendly love are also present, although more as a subplot emotion. Viola and Sebastian, as well as Olivia and her late brother in Twelfth Night; Miranda and Prospero in The Tempest. Obviously there is much less emphasis on this type...