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Having spent three months with Sebastian, Antonio cannot be separated from him in spite of any danger to himself.He says out of earshot to the departing Sebastian, “Come what may, I do adore thee so, that danger shall seem sport, and I will go.” Like Olivia, he also shifts to verse as he utters these lines.The two highest-ranking people of the country are both in a state of self-indulgent, emotional isolation—a suspect condition in a Shakespearean comedy.
By the time Shakespeare came to write , however, his young son had died.
He introduces us to the twins in this play at the moment Viola believes her twin brother to have drowned.
Viola is the perfect person to challenge their isolation.
Unlike Orsino, she is determined to find a way into Olivia’s house.
Like Olivia, she also mourns her brother, but that loss inspires compassion for Olivia.
Viola’s emotional energy does not isolate her but rather actively connects her to other people—so perhaps it’s not surprising that she inspires friendship in one and love in the other. As Cesario, she can be Orsino’s confidant but not his wife; she inspires romantic love but from Olivia rather than from Orsino.
Yet, she tells us, “I my brother know yet living in my glass”; her reflection in a mirror now looks like her brother.
She makes up for the loss of her brother by taking on a male persona patterned after him—trying to be both, a psychological behavior of a surviving twin which Shakespeare may have even witnessed in his own daughter.
As dramaturg Alison Carey notes, nearly every scene in this play opens with a question or a comment about wanting or wondering or both. ” “If music be the food of love, play on,” etc.) The question “why can’t you love me back? Questions of desire, love, and loss come from a deep place in this story—and I think that has something to do with Shakespeare’s own experience.
Shakespeare was the father of twins, a boy and a girl, and perhaps this is why he embraces notions of twins and twinning so obviously in his plays.