Twelfth Night

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Sebastian Character Analysis

Viola's twin brother, whom she believes is lost at sea, and who likewise thinks she's dead. Sebastian is noble and capable of strong, deeply felt emotion, just like his sister. The constant powerful love he shows while grieving and when reunited with Viola contrasts Orsino's and Olivia's relatively frivolous emotions. He is also the only major character in the play who never engages in deception. He can be pragmatic, though: when the beautiful, wealthy Olivia proposes to him, he accepts despite the fact that he has never met her before.
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Sebastian Character Timeline in Twelfth Night

The timeline below shows where the character Sebastian appears in Twelfth Night. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 2
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
...land of the dead (1.2.4). The Captain reassures her that he last saw her brother, Sebastian, alive, clutching the mast of their ship during the storm. Viola thanks the Captain for... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Somewhere on the coast of Illyria, two men, Antonio and Sebastian, stand in front of Antonio's house. Antonio begs Sebastian to remain as his guest, but... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Touched by the story, Antonio begs Sebastian to let him remain with him as his servant. Sebastian says that he would prefer... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Antonio and Sebastian arrive in Illyria. Sebastian says that Antonio didn't have to come, but Antonio insists that... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Sebastian then suggests that they take in the sights of the city, but Antonio explains that... (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...other and draw swords, terrified. At this instant, Antonio enters. Seeing Cesario—whom he thinks is Sebastian—he says that he will fight in Cesario's place. Sir Toby demands to know who Antonio... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...put away their swords. The officers arrest Antonio, who asks Cesario—whom he still mistakes for Sebastian—to return the purse that he lent him. Cesario, confused but grateful for Antonio's help in... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...saved the life of this boy when he was drowning at sea. He shouts that "Sebastian" should be ashamed of himself. The officers drag Antonio off. Viola, meanwhile, is filled with... (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Near Olivia's house, Feste runs into Sebastian, whom he mistakes for Cesario. Feste asks Sebastian to return and speak with Olivia. Confused,... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
...in, ordering Sir Toby to stop. Olivia sends Toby away, while begging "Cesario" (in fact, Sebastian) not to be offended. Once Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian have sulked off, Olivia... (full context)
Act 4, scene 3
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
In another room in Olivia's palace, Sebastian is wandering around, trying to make sense of what has happened. Sebastian wishes that he... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Sebastian's thoughts are interrupted when Olivia enters with a priest. She begs Sebastian to agree to... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...explains that he came to serve the "ingrateful boy" (5.1.72)—Cesario, whom he still mistakes for Sebastian. He says that he saved this "boy" from a shipwreck and, from then on, followed... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
...ever love a wife. Horrified, Olivia fetches the priest who has just married her to Sebastian. The priest confirms that he has sealed an "eternal bond of love" (5.1.151) between Olivia... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
At this moment, Sebastian rushes in, apologizing to Olivia, begging her pardon for having hurt her kinsman. Everyone is... (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
Through a series of questions, Sebastian and Viola identify each other and rejoice: they are reunited! Yet, Viola says to the... (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... (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
...says that when the Captain has given his account, he and Viola and Olivia and Sebastian will be properly married. Aside, he adds that as long as Viola is still dressed... (full context)