Ann Barton said “Lovelorn Rosin is not a figure of fun. The verse he speaks at the beginning of the play is seductively beautiful: intense, metaphoric and imaginative” To what extent do you agree with this view of the presentation of the character of Rosin? The presentation of Duke Rosin emphasis the dominant theme of love in Twelfth Night. He can be interpreted in different ways.
There is debate as to whether Rosin represents the beauty and truth of love as a heroic lover, or as a stock comic character of a foolish lover, used as a convention to emphasis his feelings’ to create humor for an audience. The opening hyperbolic speech of the play is given by the Duke himself. Instantly suggesting the importance of his character, highlighting what he says. The three key themes are introduced in the opening line of the play, “If music be the food of love play on. Rosin can be presented here, in a positive light, immediately developing a connection between actor and audience. The language Rosin uses is fluent and beautiful, as he describes that “appetite may sicken, and so die”, holding connotations of Rosin’s desire for love, not necessarily for a particular lover. Metaphoric descriptions suggest that he needs to be fed with passion, though o much passion may harm him and cause a death. Here is a typical comic convention; where death is mentioned, though never occurs.
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Following on, an appealing metaphor is captured through the descriptions of “breathes upon a bank of violets, stealing and giving odor” holding strong imagery of a beautiful meadow of violets. On a second reading, it’s possible to link the idea of unknown, unrequited love for Viola, as Viola’ and Violets’ may have a subtle language connection. Alliteration of “it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound” appeals to the senses and follows along with the beauty of love that is captured through Rosin’s metaphoric beech.
Mid-way through Rosin’s intense speech, the mood suddenly changes, “Enough, no more” suggesting that Rosin is muddled in his emotions, and doesn’t know how or what to feel. Viewing Rosin as the love-sick hero suggests he’s overwhelmed by the passion he feels. He ends his speech with reference to love being “so full of shapes is fancy’ creating the understanding that love can change and be shaped, as foreshadowed with Rosin’s Courtly Love towards Olivia at the beginning of the play, and immediately changing towards Viola, once her disguise is resolved.
Following on, Rosin learns the true feelings of love. A ‘rite of passage’ takes place, as true-love between him and Viola begins to grow. Instead of the stock comic character Rosin could be presented as, he’s clearly a sensitive, caring man who’s fallen in love with Viola uncontrollably, as he has “unclasped to thee the book even of my secret soul” showing the genuine emotional bond him and Viola have. The fluent, metaphoric language Rosin uses here shows that he trusts Viola with his soul.
Rosin’s Courtly Love, as seen previously towards Olivia is seen as an unrealistic, literary convention, therefore having a clear contrast with the love he unconsciously Leary attracted to Viola (as Corsair), as he beautifully describes her lips as “smooth and rubies” and her face and figure as a young “woman’s part” despite her disguise as a man. He requests Viola to announce his ‘Love’ for Olivia herself, clearly having an ironic twist. It is clear that the comic aspect is not Rosin himself, but the disorder of the main-plot that surrounds him, therefore Rosin is respected and not used to play a comic character.
Gradually, the love the Duke feels towards Viola strengthens and refers to her as “My gentleman, Corsair”, the possessive noun used, indicates that ex.’s protective and feels an ownership over Viola, following the expected structure within the patriarchal society. At the end of the play, Rosin feels a genuine happiness when the initial disorder of the play is resolved. His positive language to describe “this most happy wreck” shows he is truly thankful to be united with Viola. In a particular version of the play, Rosin is presented as this heroic lover as his true passion and happiness is shown allowing the audience to admire him.
Despite the idealized romance in the end scene, comedy is still produced as it’s clear that Rosin felt homosexual feelings towards ‘Corsair’ as Viola. This is emphasized through the literal appearance of the actors, as during the Elizabethan era, all males played female roles. Comedy is therefore created from the ironic concept of the scene and not from the heroic lover; Rosin. Presenting Rosin in a negative way is easily plausible, as he can be interpreted as a fool and a stock comic character. His opening speech may tell the truth about love, but not necessarily his own acquainted feelings.
The use of metaphorical language within his speech have negative connotations on love, such as; “The appetite may sicken” and “Then strain again” therefore viewing Rosin as an arrogant love-sick fool. Building upon the idea of his feelings being fake, Rosin doesn’t mention the supposed ‘love of his life’ Olivia until his second speech, suggesting that he’s more obsessed with the idea of being in love, and not actually in love himself. His Courtly Love is over-exaggerated and comic in this speech; he presents an attraction to Olivia and worships her from afar, despite being repeatedly rejected, therefore viewing him as a fool.
To build upon the foolishness of his character, his in-depth use metaphoric language, “O spirit of love” and the alliteration f “sweet sound” can be performed over-dramatically to emphasis his character for the purpose of comedy. The dark-side of his character is shown through his stubborn language, for example; within the speech he acts dominantly and commands the music to stop; “Enough, no more”. Towards the end of the first scene, Rosin declares that his ‘lover’ Olivia needed to be “ruled by one man alone – me! ” emphasizing the folly of his character.
His language is sharp, short and unpleasant because of the pause before the personal pronoun “me” and the exclamation mark to emphasis the abruptness of his language. An audience would therefore view his character as a self-obsessed, arrogant figure of authority within Lyrics, as he only wants a woman in his life to make him feel more powerful. This suggests that his character is used to represent all men in a patriarchal society, and allowing audiences to laugh at them, without being Judged. In the final scene of the play, the comic resolution is in place.
All characters are Joined together on stage to resolve the build-up of disorder, following the expected three-part-structure’ of an Elizabethan comedy; Exposition, Complication, Resolution. Rosin still displays his arrogance and untruthful love as suggests that he owns Corsair, as if she were an object. This would be seen as comic from an Elizabethan audience because Rosin’s character is used to mock the common man of a patriarchal society. On the other hand, Rosin’s question may be presented to show Rosin to be caring towards ‘his’ Corsair, though stays as a fool, as he may had in fact admitted to homosexual love.
Conventionally, marriage is a frequent comic convention used within a Shakespearian comedy to give a stronger sense of resolution and celebratory atmosphere. Rosin’s sudden announcement of marriage to Viola shows that he was desperate for a lover and metaphorically Jumps t the opportunity of being wed, showing the arrogance and foolishness of his stock comic character and his decisions. However, the disapproval of his character is dismissed at the end of the play, as audience member’s automatically outcast reality as they expect to view a humorous, unrealistic ending in a comedy.
Overall, Ann Barton’ opinion on the “seductively, beautiful, intense, metaphoric and imaginative” descriptions and emotions told by Rosin are truthful and deeply moving, therefore I fully agree with her statement. He is displayed positively throughout the play, and this is emphasized through certain events. For example, due to the disguise of Viola and the confusion of his emotions, it draws sympathy upon his character and finally displays him as a heroic lover in the final scene of the play.
Rosin had an immediate bond with Viola, and struggles with the confusion and possibilities of homosexual love, through no fault of his own. I believe Rosin was treated ‘unfairly, and despite this, his language is sweet, moving and truthful. His language can still be formal and authoritative at times, as a Duke is expected to be. Throughout, he is kind and grows fond of characters, mainly Accessories, showing his ability to adapt to the real world, including the imagery created in his first speech.
Despite showing some dark features of dominance and perhaps arrogance, it only displays the truth of real people, therefore creating respect for Rosin’s character. All people have their positive and negative ‘sides’, as shown through all the character within the play. I believe, Rosin is a positive figure within the play despite the influence of the patriarchal society. To conclude, Rosin is an ‘all round’ character, having a range of different aspects and being honest with himself. He creates a build-up of tension with love, and presses gently upon the genre of comedy.