A common theme in many of Shakespeare’s plays is the idea of loyalty. Good or evil, right or wrong, the central character in the play always has at least one person whom no matter what the circumstances never leaves their side or never denies the person what they want even if it is contrary to what they want or believe.
The play Twelfth Night portrays a very good example of loyalty and sacrifice. Viola, or Cesario as she is known through most of the play, has found herself in an interesting predicament. A rather interesting ‘love triangle’ is woven in the play and she finds herself in the middle of it as both a man and a woman.
The interesting part is that she puts her own feelings aside in order to fulfill the wishes of her Lord and her love. For anyone who has been in love they can understand how difficult it must have been to pursue another woman for the man that you love. Viola is quoted as saying “I’ll do my best to woo your lady: aside yet a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife” (Twelfth Night I.iv.40), she is admitting that she loves him. This is not going to stop her from pursuing Olivia on Orsino’s behalf.
In creating her character Shakespeare has in effect created someone who will put her own interests aside in order to be loyal to the Duke. This is the ultimate sacrifice. Loyalty in this case is something that is prohibiting the character from finding her own happiness. She never considers not carrying out her duties to further her gain. Her loyalty lies in two different aspects, to her Lord and to her Love.
Viola’s character is so unique because through her disguise she becomes the love interest of the very woman that she is pursing for the Duke.
Obviously her interests would lie far from getting involved with Olivia but we can still observe her persistency in her loyalty to the Duke. It is at the times when Olivia is persistent in her love for Cesario that I think Viola’s loyalty shines through the most. Going against her own feelings she always has the Duke’s interests at heart. Viola, in my opinion, truly represents the loyal servant and love.
In King Lear, one of King Lear’s largest supporters is Kent. While he is only Kent in Lear’s eyes for a short while in the play, because he is disguised, it is Kent none the less who watches out for Lear and attempts to protect him.
Beginning with the first line of the play we already see Kent interested and involved in King Lear’s life and well being. Kent is an interesting character because he does not stay in the good graces of King Lear past Act I, Scene i but this does not stop him from being true, loyal and faithful to his King. At the point just before Kent is banished from the kingdom he is quoted as saying
“Royal Lear, who I have ever honoured as
my king, loved as my father, as my master
followed, as my great patron thought on in
These are words that would only be spoken by a man that was truly loving and loyal. This quotation sets up for us that even after he is banished from the kingdom he will continue to serve and be loyal to his King. He accomplishes this is by using a disguise to hide his identity which will allow him to say by Lear’s side till the end of the play. As far as I’m concerned this is the ultimate form of loyalty because Kent’s only agenda is to keep Lear safe.
As the play progresses we see Kent doing various deeds in order to protect Lear’s reputation and life. Kent’s goal is to protect Lear from his two daughters Goneril and Regan whom he feels are trying to eliminate Lear to increase their own power. Kent knows that Lear does not realize that he has made a monumental mistake by splitting his power between Goneril and Regan and he is trying to rectify the situation. In effect Kent .