This essay compares and contrasts Shakespeare's ideas about love in three of his most popular plays, Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night.
The play Midsummer night's dream revolves around the fundamental difficulties of love. Through out the play this universal concept has been discussed through the effective use of contrast. Shakespeare has used symbolism to develop his ideas in the play and to present a fair view regarding the theme. In Act I, scene I Theseus and Hippolyta discuss their wedding which is to scheduled in four days, from here the story begins and the play gradually describes the ideas of love and the magical powers of dreams.
Shakespeare presents his personal views on love with the help of this play. An analysis of the play points out that Shakespeare was of the view that although love is a beautiful emotion cherished by all individuals but finding love is the hardest of all as an individual has to face a lot of tension and stress to find love. The central idea of the play is to prove that a childish love, which is known as teenage love, is foolish in nature. He has included four central characters in the play which are young children who fall in love with the young girls. Eventually at the end of the play, they discover their foolishness. William successfully conveyed his message that teenage love is slightly foolish in nature.
The other play under scrutiny is the Twelfth Night which is most simply put is a story of cross dressing and mistaken identity. It is filled with sexual tension between characters and poetic words on love. Twelfth Night is nearly as much a study of service and master-servant relations as it is a comedy of romantic love. The relationships and tensions between lovers are clearly discernible in the play's manifold variations. Viola's status as Orsino's servant is the condition of possibility and impossibility of her love for him and also of Olivia's erotic desire for her as Cesario; Orsino himself embodies courtly infatuation as a form of service in his dotage on Olivia; Malvolio exemplifies, Sonnet-like, the servant's fantasy of social elevation through erotic conquest; Antonio's homoerotic affection for Sebastian restates in a different key courtly devotion to the belove.
O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou,
That notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, naught enters there,
Of what validity and pitch so'er,
But falls into abatement and low price
Even in a minute. (1.1.9-14)
Orsino's opening meditation on his unrequited love for Olivia encompasses some of the most famous lines and images in the whole Shakespeare canon. The lines also identify the major themes and concerns of Twelfth Night. In the lines above, the references to love and to the sea encompass elements that will resound throughout the action of the play. Orsino compares the capacity of love to the capacity of the ocean in its ability to be.
The third play is the Merchant of Venice which centers on the struggle between Portia and Antonio for Bassanio's affection, or the competition between friendship and marriage. In the Elizabethan context Antonio and Bassanio's relationship does not