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    The concept of love at first sight in Shakespeare’s comedies Essay

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    Lysander admits his change of heart to Helena when he awakens: Content with Heria? No, I do repent The tedious minutes I’ve with her have spent Not Hermia, but Helena I love; Who will not change a raven for a dove? The will of man is by his reason sway’d: And reason says you are the worthier maid. (MND, II. II) Even Titania can not control herself under the power of the potion. The love potion is an element of magic and therefore not realistic; however, in MND it represents the unpredictable and ever changing nature of love.

    The character Orsino in Twelfth Night is also struck by the seemingly uncontrollable emotions he feels towards Olivia at the onset of the play: ‘O when mine eyes did see Olivia first… That instant was I turn’d into a hart / And my desires like fell and cruel hounds / E’er since pursue me’ (Twelfth Night, I. I). A true romantic, Orsino gives himself up completely to the idea of love, forfeiting all control over his emotions for the sake of finding happiness through love. Readers may not take Orsino seriously because of his overly dramatic emotions, which is similar to how readers my feel about Orlando in As You Like It.

    In fact many characters possess this certain quality which points to the fact that these comedies are not strictly love stories, but instead light anecdotes filled with silly characters. Another overly dramatic devise that Shakespeare uses is the idea of being lovesick and even comparing falling in love with catching a fatal disease. When Olivia from Twelfth Night first meets Cesario, she immediately falls in love with “him,” and suddenly gets over her brother’s death: ‘ Even so quickly may one catch the plague? / Methinks I feel this youth’s perfections / With an invisible, and subtle stealth / To creep in at mine eyes’ (Twelfth Night, I.

    V). The idea that falling in love is like catching a disease is similar to the concept of losing control. Shakespeare depicts his characters as silly and innocent at the same time by placing the blame outside of their control. While one can think that Olivia is rash and impractical with her feelings of love, one can also feel a certain sort of sympathy towards her since she has no apparent control over her emotions. Orlando suffers from the same sort of uncontrollable love sickness in AYLI. In Act III, scene II, Rosalind describes a man to Orlando who has been carving the name ‘Rosalind’ into trees.

    He admits that he is this man and that he is unluckily in love. Rosalind claims that he is not in love, however, saying: ‘Love is merely a -madness, and I tell you, deserves as well a dark house, and a whip, as madmen do’ (AYLI, III. II. ). It is at this point that she suggests to Orlando that she can cure his love sickness: I would cure you if you would but call me Rosalind” (AYLI, III. II. ). Therefore, love is not merely a condition, but something that needs to be cured in cases where it is not under the control of someone as logical as Rosalind.

    She seems to grasp the idea that untamed love can consume us and ultimately control us. Love at first sight or simply love that develops very quickly is bound to be dangerous. Rosalind understands that one should control their love rather that being controlled by their love. Her logical attitude towards romanticism can be misconstrued as being cold but are nevertheless true: ‘Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love’ (AYLI, IV. I. 91-92). Rosalind’s sudden love for Orlando contrasts with Shakespeare’s other love struck characters in that it is logical and controlled.

    While love is clearly a central theme running through most of Shakespeare’s plays, it is important to look at what kind of love it is. In A Midsummer’s Night Dream, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night, the true love that is depicted in Romeo and Juliet is hard to find. Most of the love is irrational, selfish or beyond control of the lovers. This is part of the reason that these plays are light and fun. Shakespeare uses the idea of instantaneous love to emphasize the ridiculousness of the lovers in his plays. The concept of love at first sight in Shakespeare’s comedies.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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