Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, is a lighthearted and crazy play that provokes the question, does love make people blind? This question can be asked in many different contexts, whether it is serious, comedic, or causal. Shakespeare combines humor, confusion, and poetic language to paint the characters views on love.
Antonio is one example of a character whose actions are driven by love. Sometimes those actions can run people into conflicts that could have been avoided, but without conflict, there would not be an interesting story.
Antonio has his odds stacked against him when he follows the one he loves into dangerous territory. Antonio is Sebastian’s friend who cares for Sebastian after the shipwreck. The readers learn later that Antonio and Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, are actually enemies and that Antonio is a wanted man in Illyria. Despite that understanding, Antonio still follows Sebastian in his decision to go to Illyria.
Antonio: I could not stay behind you. My desire,
More sharp than filèd steel, did spur me forth;
And not all love to see you, though so much
As might have drawn one to a longer voyage,
But jealousy what might befall your travel,
Being skill-less in these parts, which to a stranger,
Unguided and unfriended, often prove
Rough and unhospitable. My willing love,
The rather by these arguments of fear.
Set forth in your pursuit. (3.3.4-13)
In this quote, the words that stood out and show that Antonio’s love could be more than just friendship are the words, “desire”, “jealousy”, and “love.” Referring back to the question of whether or not love makes people blind, in this case, Antonio is blinded by his love in the sense that he would follow it even if it got him into trouble. He is “blind” because he is ignoring the consequences that could ensue by staying with Sebastian who is entering a territory where he is a wanted man.
Love can also make people desperate. Desperation also blinds people to the consequences of their actions because all that matters to that person is what they want. They also cannot see that the person they want is not the right person for them in the end. Orsino is a good example of someone who is ignoring the fact that the person he thinks he loves does not love him back. He thinks that Olivia is the one for him because it “makes sense” that they would be together. In the reality of the play though, Orsino does not love Olivia, he just loves the idea of her.
When it comes to Viola in the play, the person who is blind to things is Olivia. Olivia falls in love with Viola when she is disguised as a man, and when she finds out Viola is actually a woman she quickly is set up with Viola’s twin brother Sebastian and falls in love with him instead.
This is interesting because Viola and Sebastian look alike does not mean they are the same person. Looks are important in a relationship because looks are initially what a person is attracted to. A person cannot base their whole relationship off looks though, personality is the other half of the equation. If a person promises to spend the rest of their life with the other through marriage I would sure hope that they were attracted to the other person’s personality. Olivia is blind to this idea that personality plays a huge factor and marries Sebastian because he is the male version of Viola.
In conclusion, there are a lot of examples in this play that show that in this reality, love indeed makes people blind to a lot of things like consequences, and the truth of each situation. Even Fabian says in Act 3 scene 1, “If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.” Fabian realizes how crazy and unrealistic these circumstances are in this play. The situations are very extreme and dramatic. In the end, though, that is what makes this play a very interesting and funny story.