Olivia in Twelfth Night: Character Analysis & Quotes

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Olivia in 'Twelfth Night' experiences an intense feeling of sorrow when her brother dies. Study a character analysis of Olivia, with some quotes expressing her emotion, grief and obsessions. Updated: 09/14/2021

Olivia in Twelfth Night

Grief is a process. After the loss of our closest loved ones, we all experience a period of grief, a time when we mourn and remember the ones we've loved. After a while, it is natural to move on with your life and re-establish normalcy in your life. For some, it takes a while to overcome grief. Their lives are at a standstill and they don't feel like doing anything or being around anyone until something or someone reaches them on a different level.

Twelfth Night is a comedy written by William Shakespeare. One of the characters in the play, Olivia, experiences overwhelming feelings of grief following the loss of her brother. Olivia remains in a period of mourning until her curiosity is piqued by a young man who comes to her gate.

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  • 0:02 Olivia in Twelfth Night
  • 0:47 Character Analysis
  • 2:30 Lesson Summary
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Character Analysis

Olivia is a beautiful woman with strong emotional reactions and no male guidance; she is not married and no longer has a father or brother. Several of the men in the play feel Olivia needs a man to help her manage her life and fortune, but she is too overcome with emotions to give them a chance at pursuing her.

At times, Olivia can be emotional and dramatic. Olivia mourns the recent loss of her brother. Instead of expressing interest in others she drowns herself in her sorrows. She mourns in a dramatic way by dressing in black. When she cries, her tears are compared to a 'brine' that 'seasons' her 'brother's dead love' (Act 1, Scene 1).

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