Sebastian and antonio relationship twelfth night

Relationships Between Men in Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice | Elliot Weeks -

sebastian and antonio relationship twelfth night

Critics have, until recently, largely overlooked the relationship between Antonio and Sebastian in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, focusing. A summary of Act II, scenes i–ii in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The relationship between Antonio and Sebastian, meanwhile, though it is a minor part . Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, it is essential to understand the great value that However, closer examination of the relationships between Orsino and Cesario, Sir Andrew and Sir Toby, and Antonio and Sebastian display how.

But the androgyne could also be an object of ridicule or an image of monstrous deformity, of social or physical abnormality. Antonio, insulted, infuriated, and believing Sebastian will not return money he had given him, gives full voice not only to his love for the youth, but also his disappointment, with particular emphasis on his beauty: This youth that you see here I snatched one half out of the jaws of death, Relieved him with such sanctity of love, And to his image, which methought did promise Most venerable worth, did I devotion.

But, O, how vile an idol proves this god! Thou hast, Sebastian, done good feature shame. Virtue is beauty, but the beauteous evil [. Antonio, at the very least, gives credence to the anti-theatricalists fears. Later in the play Antonio uses words seemingly borrowed from an anti-theatrical tract to explain his presence in Illyria: Pequigney historically contextualizes the attraction of men to boys: While these codifications did not exist at the time of the play they give us another course of analyzing the texts to uncover themes overlooked or invisible in the past.

My stars shine darkly over me. The malignancy of my fate might perhaps distemper yours. Therefore I shall crave of you your leave that I may bear my evils alone.

I would not by my will have troubled you, But since you make your pleasure of your pains, I no further chide you… My kind Antonio, I can no other make but thanks, And thanks, and ever thanks… 3. A short while later when Olivia asks again for the assurance of his willingness to marry her he again responds to placate her: In his contemplation of the quandary in which he has landed he thinks immediately of Antonio and is desirous of his assistance: I could not find him at the Elephant… His counsel now might do me golden service.

Neither the play nor most of its critics pause over this passage. While it has been well established there is no solid idea of individual sexualities in the Renaissance and much less sexual roles within those sexualities, it is possible to theorize not only that Sebastian and Antonio had a homosexual relationship but also, given the facts, that Antonio was the active participant and Sebastian the passive.

Sebastian, as has been established, is not much of an active character. The illegal nature of homosexuality meant that any such literary notions had to be entirely indefinable.

As such, there are no outright declarations of sexual love between men in Shakespeare, instead an abundance of homosexual suggestion, the clarification of which depends on both context and interpretation. There are nevertheless varying portrayals of male relationships: The distance between the idealised and the erotic is entirely dependent upon context, be it public or private, along with the nature and intensity of the situation.

sebastian and antonio relationship twelfth night

His companions suggest that his mind is away with thoughts of his merchant enterprises, the explanations are long and the language metaphorical, yet he dismisses these with a similarly lengthy response.

Why, then you are in love. In combining the two into one line, the implication is one of hasty dismissal. Through their simplicity, these remarks are foregrounded, paving the way for a slow unfurling of the truth in the course of the play.

As the central point of comedy, love interests are frequently expanded on when touched upon in conversation, and often without restraint. Here the depiction of a heterosexual relationship adopts hyperbolic language, contrasting with the restrained response of Antonio.

Twelfth Night: Queering of Sebastian | A Random Existence

Oxford University Press,p. The idea of love in Elizabethan times has multiple meanings in comparison to contemporary definitions. With this image Shakespeare is subverting a symbol of idealised heterosexual love into one of erotic homosexuality, thus blurring the distance between the idealised and the erotic. The same erotic symbolism occurs in one scene of Twelfth Night. The exchange is between Antonio and Sebastian, whom are key points of comparison with the pair in The Merchant of Venice.

As in The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare avoids any defined homosexual evidence through the symbolism of an ordinary object. The scene as a whole however, acts as a key point of comparison between this and the opening of The Merchant of Venice.

I could not stay behind you. My desire, More sharp than filed steel, did spur me forth, And not all love to see you — though so much As might have drawn one to a longer voyage - But jealousy what might befall your travel.

sebastian and antonio relationship twelfth night

The Athlone Press,II, pp. The phallic connotations of a spearhead also play a part in what appears as a very masculine turn of phrase, and by combining this with a framed narrative of a voyage, Shakespeare has created a sense of the war-like struggle in which Antonio finds himself.

Here, the notion of the idealised and the erotic are one and the same, the romantic language demonstrates a conventional heterosexual idealisation of relationships, which is punctuated with erotic imagery.

The question of how idealistic a portrayal these relationships are arises from the level of reciprocation of affection. In both instances, Shakespeare averts any development of homoerotic emotions, and even then the language maintains a business-like tone through the pairing with financial motivations. The crux of the issue is not why Shakespeare avoids direct erotic behaviour between men; one can only look at Elizabethan attitudes towards homosexuality to see reasons for this.

The key is by maintaining an unreciprocated, one-way direction of homoerotic desire throughout the play, these relationships can only ever be idealised, not actualised, even if the erotic element is there.

In this respect, the two are kept in close proximity. A further point of comparison is the two scenes of parting between the two pairs. Antonio is pleading with Sebastian for them not be parted, yet Sebastian, as the later scene offers him no reprieve: This formal, almost mannered tone, with its balanced phrasing, might suggest a sense of strain in the relationship, and to some extent differs from the more open form in their later scene.

That said, beneath the formal surface there lies a strong undercurrent of feeling. The nature of the reported scene suggests a sense of intimacy between the two characters, as though by being watched from afar, their privacy is of the utmost importance to them.

The portrayal of the parting itself mimics that of any heterosexual relationship between two lovers. Bassanio is off to seek a future with Portia, yet still he feels he must make haste in returning to his friend.

The question of who is of more importance to Bassanio is raised here, and is one that reoccurs in the court scene. The parting image of the two is one of sincere affection and emotion: