The play Twelfth Night was written by William Shakespeare in the 17th century during queen Elizabeth’s reign. The play was usually primarily shown during epiphany that marks the end of the traditional twelve days of Christmas hence the name Twelfth Night. There are twelve characters in this play whose fates we learn as we continue reading the play. Throughout the play, there is a profound sense of fate that underlines Shakespeare’s tragedies. Twelfth Night is an ambiguous and fragile affirmation of the values that the different characters endorse; raising ironic questions about difficulties of how some issues are resolved. The main aim of this paper is to outline how fate plays out in Twelfth Night and its role in the play.
Twelfth Night is full of dramatic events made worse by the absence of parents to control the characters social life. In the courtship of Viola and Orsino, the major issue is the need to Orsino on his excessiveness of love. Orsino is shown to wallow in conventional literary emotions befitting to love, but he needs the reality experience of love. By the end of the play, Orsino has learnt on how he can change to express his feelings and most importantly being able to understand his own feelings first. However, Viola has less freedom although she may be dressing up as a man. This is further complicated by the love that Olivia expresses for her. Despite all these, Viola is not able to challenge her man as with the case of Rosalind and Orlando. This is further complicated by the fact that Orsino is more in love with her than Orlando is with Rosalind. Viola therefore is shown as a woman who cannot take charge of her courtship and thus has to hang on for the shifting circumstances. However as fate could have it, Viola’s interactions with Olivia awakens (Olivia’s) interest educating her into the realty of true passion. Olivia is shown to break from her artificially imposed isolation with the following words:
Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind.
Fate show thy force! Ourselves we do not owe.
What is decreed must be—and be this so! (1.5.288-290)
Another instance of fate appears in Fortune. He is a milder and capricious character but whose wheel continues to turn vindicating the merry heart. Othello wonders who can control Fortune’s fate and according to Malvolio who believes that he stands in favour with Olivia says, “…this but Fortune; all is Fortune.” Ensnared by Viola’s beauty, Olivia offer her voice to the matching creed:
Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind;
Fate show thy force; ourselves we do not owe
What is decreed, must be; and be tis so;
And Viola, in like fashion, trusts to the evet-
This whole love mix-up from above is a sign that probably things will not end right. The fact is that Olivia loves Sebastian (Viola), Orsino loves Olivia, and Viola loves Orsino but the problem is that they do not know that the other person loves them they same way as they do. Although Orsino loves Olivia, he does not even know that Viola is really a girl (because of her dressing). When the real Viola pops up into the picture, he is messed up and has no clue of what exactly is going on. Fortunately for him, he feels that he is attracted to Olivia while viola tries to explain herself to others.
Fate is used to seal a melancholic strain in the play Twelfth Night. The weddings of such characters like Sebastian, Orsino, Viola and Olivia are arranged in the end leaving two characters disillusioned. Shakespeare leaves Antonio in dilemma. This leaves the director to decide his fate even if it involves it involves leaving him under the guard of soldiers or simply doing nothing to him. The decision to resolving Antonio’s situation reaches further than the character himself as Shakespeare leaves upon the director to determine his fate. He is seen walking away from where the marriage celebrations are taking place whirling his collar against the rain. This symbolizes a complete rejection of the kind of love that his love represents taking precedence over romantic love. This shows how Antonio is treated unfairly overshadowing Sebastian’s new marriage with a touch of sadness. Sebastian was earlier called a pirate for his past misdeeds including murdering Orsino’s soldiers and also the possibility that he killed his nephew. That is why Malvolio vowed,” I’ll be reveng’d on the whole pack of you.”
The melancholic mood is certainly confirmed by Feste’s somber note below:
What is love? 'Tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What's to come is still unsure: (2.3.43)
This is a learning lesson by Shakespeare especially through Olivia about falling in love and giving our own to fate. Thus fate is used to tell us that the language that one may use to communicate with another may end up demanding a lot more in love: love has its own dangers.