Twelfth Night

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The Duke and ruler of Illyria. At the beginning of the play Orsino is obsessed by his unrequited love for Olivia . However, in the final scene, when Orsino discovers that Cesario is in fact the woman, Viola—and that Olivia has already married Viola's twin brother, Sebastian—he quickly proposes to Viola. Because the language and gestures he uses to talk about love are so melodramatic, and because he switches from Olivia to Viola so quickly, Orsino seems more in love with the idea of love and his own role as a spurned lover, than to actually be in love. His constant self-indulgent complaints about his lovesickness also display his extreme self-centeredness. Critics have also noted that, in the final scene, he seems to be attracted to Cesario as Cesario—that is, to Viola in her male persona.

Orsino Quotes in Twelfth Night

The Twelfth Night quotes below are all either spoken by Orsino or refer to Orsino. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Desire and Love Theme Icon
).
Act 1, scene 1 Quotes
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die. (1-3)
Related Characters: Orsino (speaker)
So full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical. (14-15)
Related Characters: Orsino (speaker)
Act 1, scene 4 Quotes
Thy small pipe
Is as the maiden's organ, shrill and sound,
And all is semblative a woman's part. (32-34)
Related Characters: Orsino (speaker), Viola (Cesario)
Act 1, scene 5 Quotes
Make me a willow cabin at your gate
And call upon my soul within the house;
Write loyal cantons of contemned love
And sing them loud even in the dead of night;
Halloo your name to the reverberate hills
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out 'Olivia!' O, You should not rest
Between the elements of air and earth
But you should pity me. (251-259)
Related Characters: Viola (Cesario) (speaker), Orsino, Olivia
Act 2, scene 4 Quotes
Let still the woman take
An elder than herself: so wears she to him,
So sways she level in her husband's heart:
For, boy, however we do praise ourselves,
Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm,
More longing, wavering, sooner lost and worn,
Than women's are. (28-34)
Related Characters: Orsino (speaker), Viola (Cesario)
Then let thy love be younger than thyself,
Or thy affection cannot hold the bent. (35-36)
Related Characters: Orsino (speaker)
Now the melancholy god protect thee, and the tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is a very opal. (72-73)
Related Characters: Feste (speaker), Orsino
Viola: My father had a daughter loved a man,
As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,
I should your lordship.
Orsino: And what's her history?
Viola: A blank, my lord. She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed? (105-114)
Related Characters: Viola (Cesario) (speaker), Orsino (speaker)
Act 5, scene 1 Quotes
Give me thy hand
And let me see thee in thy woman's weeds. (264-5)
Related Characters: Orsino (speaker), Viola (Cesario)
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Orsino Character Timeline in Twelfth Night

The timeline below shows where the character Orsino appears in Twelfth Night. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Duke Orsino lounges in his palace in Illyria, alternately praising and lamenting the nature of love. First,... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Valentine, another attendant, returns from Olivia's palace, where Orsino has sent him. He reports that Olivia is deep in mourning for her brother, who... (full context)
Act 1, scene 2
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...who was born in Illyria, explains to Viola that Illyria is governed by a Duke Orsino, a bachelor who is in love with a noblewoman named Olivia. Olivia, herself the orphaned... (full context)
Act 1, scene 4
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
At Orsino's palace, Viola, now disguised as the page boy Cesario, chats with Valentine. Valentine tells Cesario... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Orsino enters and asks to speak with Cesario privately. Orsino then tells Cesario he has Orsino's... (full context)
Act 1, scene 5
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...she demands to know: who wrote Cesario's "text" (1.5.208)? Cesario confesses that it was indeed Orsino. Exasperated, Olivia says that she has already heard all he has to say. Cesario asks... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...without producing an heir to keep such beauty alive after her death. Cesario adds that Orsino loves Olivia so deeply that she should yield to him. Olivia asks Cesario to describe... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...gentleman by birth, although conditions have reduced him. Olivia replies that Cesario should return to Orsino, tell him that Olivia cannot love him and must not to send any further messengers—except,... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...Olivia summons Malvolio and gives him a ring, which, she lies, Cesario left behind on Orsino's behalf. She commands Malvolio to chase down Cesario, return the ring, and instruct him to... (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
..."Cesario," and that by taking on her disguise she has created an impossible love triangle: Orsino loves Olivia, Olivia loves Viola/Cesario, and Viola loves Orsino. Because Orsino takes Viola for a... (full context)
Act 2, scene 4
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
The next day, Orsino lounges in his palace as usual, attended by Cesario, Curio, and other servants and musicians.... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Orsino tells Cesario that, if he is ever in love, he must remember and imitate Orsino's... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Curio returns with Feste. Orsino instructs him to sing what he sang the previous night, a melodramatic lover's lament. After... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Orsino instructs Cesario to go woo Olivia once again on his behalf. Cesario suggests that Orsino... (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Cesario arrives at Olivia's palace (following Orsino's instructions in 2.4). Outside he finds Feste, who clowns a bit and mocks both Olivia... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
When they are alone, Cesario says that he is Olivia's servant: he is Orsino's servant and Orsino belongs to Olivia. So, by extension, he does too. Olivia says she... (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...she is so in love, she cannot help herself. Cesario reminds Olivia that his master, Orsino, is suffering just as she is. Olivia gives Cesario a locket containing her picture and... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...begging for Olivia's help. As Fabian tries to get Feste to let him read it, Orsino arrives with Cesario and several others. After exchanging some casual banter with Feste, Orsino sends... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
While Orsino waits, the officers barge in with Antonio. Cesario defends Antonio—noting that Antonio saved him from... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
...Cesario has been. Has he broken his marriage promises to her already? Cesario is confused. Orsino, who now thinks that Cesario has wooed Olivia in secret, grows enraged. He tells Olivia... (full context)
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
As Orsino is leaving, Sir Andrew enters, bleeding and calling for a surgeon. He accuses Cesario of... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
...in, apologizing to Olivia, begging her pardon for having hurt her kinsman. Everyone is astonished. Orsino exclaims that Sebastian and Cesario are identical: "one face, one voice, one habit, and two... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Sebastian turns to Olivia to explain: all that time, she wanted to marry a woman. Orsino reassures Olivia, telling her that the twins have noble blood. He then turns to Viola... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Waiting for them to return, Olivia asks Orsino to think of her as a sister and offers to host a wedding feast for... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Orsino says that when the Captain has given his account, he and Viola and Olivia and... (full context)