Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: Complexity Within The Subplot Of Antonio And Sebastian

1491 words - 6 pages

The characters of Antonio and Sebastian appear as a minor contributions to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, however their relationship offers a degree of complexity. Through an analysis of Antonio's passion, Sebastian's marriage, and ______, we will see that the subplot of Antonio and Sebastian provides an intricate and unpleasant outcome.he character of Antonio, Sebastian's faithful friend, throws an interesting light upon the romantic intrigues which make up the main plot of Twelfth Night. When the twins Viola and Sebastian were separated by the shipwreck that precedes the play's action, Antonio saved Sebastian and brought him ashore. In their first scene, Antonio asks that either Sebastian stay with him, or they go to Orsino's court together, declaring extravagantly "If you will not murder me for my love, let me be your servant." (II.1) He also explains that travelling into Illyria could be dangerous for him, as he has captained warships against Orsino, and killed many of the Count's soldiers.His impassioned entreaties do not succeed, however, and he follows Sebastian in disguise to Illyria. He blunders into the duel being set up between Viola/Cesario and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and offers to fight for Cesario, mistaking him for Sebastian. When caught by the Count's officers, he asks Cesario for the return of some money he lent Sebastian, but of course Cesario has no idea who he is. Believing himself betrayed ("O, how vile an idol proves this god!" III.4), Antonio is led away to prison.When brought before Orsino and Cesario, he calls the latter a "most ingrateful boy" (5.1), just before the denouement reveals that Cesario and Sebastian are different people. Antonio, however, is lost in the explanations and engagements; his last lines are "How have you made division of yourself/...Which is Sebastian?" We never hear how he feels about the denouement, or what he will do after the play has ended.The relationship between Antonio and Sebastian, meanwhile, though it is a minor part of the play, offers fertile ground for critical attention. Antonio and Sebastian are clearly close, dear friends. Yet the language Antonio uses, along with his behavior, suggests something even stronger. Antonio appears willing to sacrifice everything for his friend, giving up his time, money, and safety to follow and protect him. He begs Sebastian to let him be his servant and travel into danger with him, and Antonio decides to go even when he learns that Sebastian is headed for a dangerous place filled with Antonio's enemies. Moreover, Antonio's language carries a strong emotional charge: "If you will not murder me for my love, let me be your servant" (II.i.30-31). His implication that separation from Sebastian would be equivalent to a violent death demonstrates how deeply important to him his relationship with Sebastian is.Powerful male friendships were more the norm in Shakespeare's day than in our own, and Antonio's language can be seen as simply the expression of a purely...

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