The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1478 Tuesday 24 August 1999.
From: Abigail Quart <
Date: Tuesday, 24 Aug 1999 00:02:38 -0400
Subject: 10.1470 Re: Twelfth Night
Comment: Re: SHK 10.1470 Re: Twelfth Night
I don't well understand the term "flaw" as applied to Orsino. In this
play, identity hinges on a loved one's recognition. Malvolio and Andrew
are never recognized by Olivia, and so are seen as comical, sad,
pathetic. Antonio's identity vanishes with Viola, is restored with
Sebastian, and may possibly be lost again when Sebastian chooses the
Olivia he doesn't know over the Antonio he does.
Is unrequited love a "flaw?" Must we only love in sure certainty of
return? Then, Viola is thus flawed. And Olivia. (It wouldn't be the
first time Shakespeare has created three characters with a single flaw:
Isabella, Angelo, and the Duke are all characters who believe themselves
above mortal passions in Measure.)
But Orsino is saved from this loss of identity caused by a rejection of
Olivia's love because Viola is in love with him at the moment we meet
him. She saves him from being ridiculous. For how long has she been
all his comfort? Heard all his confidences and never laughed at him?
Maybe this is what he realized at that last revelation.
I must say, declarations of what? Ironclad future coupledom? Seem to
have a very silencing effect on Shakespeare's heroines. Any other silent
new fiancees besides Viola and Isabella (in Measure)?