Twelfth Night

by: William Shakespeare

Antonio

Characters Antonio

Antonio is an enigmatic character in the play who heightens the main themes. He first appears imploring Sebastian to either stay with him longer, or allow him to accompany the younger man when he leaves. Antonio is quite dramatic in the language he uses, imploring, “If you will not murder me for my love, let me be your servant” (2.1.). Additionally, even though it is dangerous for him to go to Orsino’s court, Antonio immediately decides to chase after Sebastian, since “come what may, I adore thee so / That danger will seem sport, and I will go” (2.1.). Antonio’s behavior toward Sebastian seems to echo Orsino’s melodramatic love for Olivia, and Olivia’s exaggerated passion for Cesario. Like these other characters, Antonio is convinced he cannot live without one particular person, even though Sebastian seems to view him simply as a good friend. Antonio’s emotions echo the theme of unrequited love, and the unpredictable nature of passion and desire.

Antonio is the one character who is authentically experiencing intense feelings for someone of the same sex. While everyone else eventually finds their way to an appropriate match, Antonio seems doomed to have his feelings unrequited and unresolved. Like Orsino, Antonio’s strong attachment to Sebastian leaves him vulnerable when he thinks he has been betrayed, lamenting that Sebastian’s “false cunning… Taught him to face me out of his acquaintance” (5.1.). Antonio eventually ends up receiving confirmation of Sebastian’s affection for him. However, Antonio is also conspicuously left alone at the end of the play, when almost everyone pairs off. He drops out of the main action without any clear resolution or statement as to what his fate will be. Despite having showed loyalty, courage, and love, Antonio’s virtues don’t seem to be rewarded at the end of the play.