Unrequited love in Twelfth Night

By: Jose Antonio S.

Theme Statement

Unrequited love leads people to erratic behavior and feelings of pain

Unrequited Love Definition:

It is one sided love someone has for another; it is one sided due to the fact that the beloved is not aware of the affection the person has for them, or knows the affection, but rejects it.

Quotations in Twelfth Night representing Unrequited Love


"If music be the food of love; play on,/Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,/The appetite may sicken, and so die." (Shakespeare 1.1.1-3).



This quotation represents the theme of unrequited love in the play Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. The Duke is speaking about is in love for Olivia, but the main problem is that Olivia does not have the same feelings for him. In this quote he is comparing music to the food of love; he says that if music is the food of love he wants them to keep playing until he is stuffed with music, until he can’t take it no more. This shows how unrequited love is unhealthy, and it leads to despair and hopelessness. He wants to get over his love, however he simply can’t. This quote connects to the theme because it is a clear example of unrequited love. The Duke is desperately in love with Olivia, but Olivia does not have the same deep and strong romantic affection the Duke has for her. The Duke has to try to convince her to love him back, but Olivia continuously rejects it. It changes the way the Duke lives his life; he becomes very passionate about this one-sided love, and everything he does always has a relation to his love for Olivia.



“My state is desperate for my master’s love” (2.2.35)


This quotation represents the theme of unrequited love in the play. Viola is thinking to herself the confusion she has just created, and the complication her disguise has on the other characters. In this quote she is thinking out loud of how she loves the Duke, but can’t reveal this love because the Duke believes she is a man. She says that she feels desperation due to the fact that she can’t tell the Duke that she loves him. Viola says that the love she feels for him cause her to be and feel desperate, due to this she is feeling pain, because she can’t tell him how she truly feels. This shows how unrequited love leads to people feeling a sense of pain and desperation if it is not told. She wants to tell him, but simply can’t because of her disguise. This quote connects to the theme because it is an example of unrequited love in the play. Viola feels unrequited love for the Duke, which the Duke is not aware of. Viola can’t tell him because she is disguised as a man. Another reason she can’t tell him is because she doesn’t know if the Duke will accept the love she feels for him. This unrequited love really makes her feel pain and its eating her alive. Viola feels this way the whole way throughout the play, but hints the Duke that she is a woman, so she can tell him that she loves him sometime in the play.



OLIVIA: I love thee so, that, maugre all thy pride,/Nor wit nor reason can my passion hide./

Do not extort thy reasons from this clause,/For that I woo, thou therefore hast no cause,/But rather reason thus with reason fetter./Love sought is good, but given unsought better.

VIOLA: By innocence I swear, and by my youth/I have one heart, one bosom, and one truth,/ And that no woman has, nor never none (3.1.142-149)


This quotation represents yet again unrequited love in the play Twelfth Night. This unrequited love is between Olivia and “Cesario” (actually Viola). In this quotation Olivia is alone with Viola who she thinks is Cesario. Olivia reveals the love she feels for Cesario and tells him how she feels about him. Cesario, being Viola in disguise can’t love her back; she rejects what Olivia just admitted to her and tells her the truth. She says that her heart will never be in love with a woman, this is because ironically she is a woman. Olivia is saddened, but she has not given up, and never does to captivate Cesario’s love. This shows how unrequited love leads to erratic behavior and a true obsession to capture this person’s love. Olivia tells Cesario that she loves him, but gets rejected and does everything to captivate his love, until she finds it. This quote connects to the theme because it is an unrequited love example. The confessed love in the play is rejected by Cesario, and it leads to desperation and obsession over this love. Viola shows clear desperation for Cesario by trying to convince him in every way possible to love her back. She doesn’t stop this behaviour until Cesario (Sebastian in disguise) accepts her love.

Text to World Connection

This news article is about this man who spends over 2 years of his savings to buy 99 iPhones to confess his love to a co-worker he fell in love with. This used all of his savings to confess his love to this woman he liked, to get rejected and left with 99 useless iPhones. This connects to the theme of unrequited love, because the man had a deep affection for this woman for a very long time, but decided to tell her in this unique way. The guy’s love didn’t get returned and his heart and bank account were broken by this. It relates to the way that the Viola in the play Twelfth Night had a deep affection for the Duke, but could not tell him. She couldn’t tell him due to her disguise and because she was afraid that the Duke might not love her back and might get rejected.


http://shanghaiist.com/2014/11/09/guangzhou_man_buys_99_iphone_6s_to.php

Text to Text Connection

My Best Friend’s Wedding Movie


This movie is about this pair of friends who have been best friends for years; the girl has always had a crush on her best friend Michael, but is heartbroken when she finds out he is getting married in a few weeks. She goes to help with the wedding and tries everything in the world to end their wedding so she can confess to her best friend that she loves him, in a comedic way. This movie is another clear example of unrequited love and how it affects people behaviour wise and emotionally as well. In the movie the woman tries to interrupt the wedding so she can confess to her loved one, but at the end does what is best for him and lets him marry the person she loves. This relates to the theme of unrequited love in Twelfth Night, because just like the characters, her unrequited love leads to erratic behavior in a comedic way.

Text to Self Connection

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Work Cited

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"Guangzhou Man Buys 99 IPhone 6s to Confess His Love to Colleague before Singles' Day." Shanghaiist. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 June 2016.