"Twelfth Night": Thy Mind Is A Very Opal. Is This A Fair Description Of Orsino, Or Is There Anything To Be Said In His Favour?

965 words - 4 pages

In the Renaissance-era romantic comedy, "Twelfth Night", William Shakespeare presents to us an entertaining play riddled with humorous plots and, in some instances, comical and witty exchanges between the characters in the play. In a novel peppered with subtle notions of deceit and illusion, it is fascinating how some of the most revealing truths about the characters actually lie beneath the innocent banters. Under the influence of illusion and deception, the figures in the play are often lost in their own reverie, failing to realise the bare naked truths behind the events that have played out. An insightful judge of characters, Feste is both impudent and witty at the same time, neither mincing his words nor masking his emotions. It is perhaps due to his pragmatic nature that he is able to be so perceptive and astute in his judgment of the characters. His remark of Orsino's mind as one which is very opal only serves to prove the above-mentioned claim. Over the following paragraphs, I will endeavor to uncover the truth behind Feste's statement.Orsino can be seen at the beginning of the play pining in a melancholic mood for his inamorata, the gorgeous and virtuous Countess Olivia. She spurned every single one of his advances without much thought or hesitation, and it is these rejections that lead Orsino to lament the fact that "there is no woman's sides can bide the beating of so strong a passion, and no woman's heart so big to hold so much as they lack retention". His grumpiness does not stop there as he continued to wax lyrical over the differing perceptions both genders have of love. He egoistically declared, "Make no compare between that love a woman can bear me, and that I owe Olivia". As was the case in the opening scene, Orsino's metaphorical relation of love to food is noteworthy. He deems his love as an appetite; he is "as hungry as the sea and can digest as much". Paradoxically, he had espoused the exact opposite view earlier in the play, stating that men are more wavering in their affection than women are, with "fancies that are more giddy and unfirm". Orsino is inconstant in a way that his feelings and opinions are variable; his state of mind is inconsistent due to the influence of love. His stereotypical comments on men and women's perception of love are highly incongruous and hugely apocryphal to a certain extent. Feste, as wise as he is, is able to recognise the variability of Orsino's nature, likening his inconsistency to the opal, a symbol of changeability because of its iridescent qualities. The image of "changeable taffeta" that Feste proffers is also an accurate description of Orsino's moods, with its color changing according to the angle of view and the amount of light. Love has command over Orsino's will, his thoughts, and his mental...

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