Remember a while back, in one of my Lit classes, we had to read Twelfth Night by Shakespeare? Well… Since the class relied so heavily on the reading, the instructor thought she would shake things up. So she gave us a creative writing assignment that we could complete instead of that week’s paper.
I watched the 2.5 hour play (as per the instructions of the assignment). I read the play. I weighed my options, 6 in all. And the option I picked? I chose to write a love letter from one of the characters in the play, to another character in the play.
But… It couldn’t be an ordinary love letter.
Here is the prompt, with my letter to follow:
Write a love letter from any of the key characters to the person of his/her affection. Unlike a typical love letter, use this to consider the true motivations of the character. Consider deeper emotions of the character and ask questions.
Ok, so before I start. I considered this option as soon as I saw it. Hopeless romantic at heart? It spoke to me. I had no idea what I was going to write. But when I did, I took it all the way home and the instructor gave me an excellent grade, with high praises. I gave it my own twist.
One thing I really enjoyed about this assignment was that there was not background information on the characters. Yes, we know that Viola almost drowned and was rescued. But what about her life before she landed in Illyria? What was her home life like? Was she happy? Why did she automatically take to Orsino, upon hearing him name as a ruler? These are the questions I asked myself and considered as I wrote this.
My dearest Orsino,
When my father first mentioned you, as a bachelor, I knew I had to meet you. I knew I had to see you with my own eyes, to see why you were crowned as Duke, and to see why you are so highly regarded. Upon entering myself, where I almost drowned, in Illyria, I learned you were keen to Olivia, a beautiful maiden. I took it upon myself to get close to you; I concealed my true identity in hopes to gain your affection, and your approval for marriage. However, this Olivia stood in my way; she was the object of your affections, for no other reason than the attraction. What you do not know is that she will not marry anyone who is “… above her degree, neither in estate, years, nor wit” (Act 1.3, 93-94). Her uncle, Sir Toby Belch, once heard her say that, I promise you.
You will not win her love, no matter how hard you try. You can send me to her door, as your page-boy, a thousand times over again, but she will never love you. Please, can you not see? She is not right for you, my love. I am right here, waiting for you to take notice, for your approval, for your hand. I will take care of you, if you let me. Yet, you look over me because of my disguise. If only you could see the true me, good sir.
You have given me with the most grueling task. I am to make Olivia fall in love with you, when she has taken a vow that she will not marry for seven years to honor her fallen brother. Because I see myself as your one true love, I will do as you wish, and secretly hope she turns you away. I know it is a terrible thing to do, but you must understand; I am the right person for you. I will love you to the moon and beyond. My love for you will never falter.
Oh my dear Orsino, I wish you could see I would take myself as your wife. I truly wish I could reveal my identity. After losing my brother in the storm, I need stability. It has always been a dream of mine to marry a man of power, a man of position, and a man of wealth. I should be so lucky if they were the same man. To believe that the man is you, is the most wondrous thing I could imagine.
Even though you have chosen to be obsessed with a woman you cannot have, I must align myself with you, my lord. I will be here when it all falls apart, and I will be there to pick up the pieces of your broken heart; my shoulder will be yours to cry on. Lady Olivia has said to me, regarding you, “A gracious person. But yet I cannot love him; / He might have took his answer long ago” (Act 1.5, 236-237). So you see, my lord, she wishes you took her answer some time ago. She does recognize that you are noble and of wealth, but she wishes to have no part of you.
Oh, how I would love to have every part of you. As passionately as you love her, I love you the same. The pain you feel when Olivia does not send her love back, multiply that, and that is what I feel for you, this bittersweet pain of love. My love for you is more pure than the purest thing on this Earth. My love, if only your eyes could see what is in front of you, I would be the happiest man around.
You once said, “There is no woman’s side / Can bide the beating of so strong a passion / As love doth give my heart…” (Act 2.4, 91-93). I have been too afraid to mention this, but you are terribly mistaken. My love for you is something fierce, if only you would return it, and not reject it, like Olivia does with your love. My lord, while you are taken to Olivia’s beauty and not her wealth, with you, my love is the opposite. While my eyes do seek attention to your most desirable features, my true desire lies within the security your being can provide me.
I seek the guarantee of a comfortable life, one that I would have wished to know as a young girl. My father could not give my mother the life she wanted. But now that I have been close to you, as a friend and a servant, I wish to love you more than what wealth could provide. Some people only chose to see what is on the outside of a person; your obsession with Olivia has clouded my judgement, and has shown me the kind of love we could have, if you would just believe. However, you finally realized that Oliva, the beautiful, cruel woman, was only something that you could not have. I will jump for joy when you see me for who I am. I will never love a woman, and “after him I love / More than I love these eyes, more than my life” (Act 5.1, 131-132). You see, I never was who I said, I never could be a page-boy, although I did pretend. I enjoyed being close to you, and would greatly be forever in your debt, if you would only love me.
My love, my motives have been unclear, until we learned the truth. Now, I am asking with my mask off, my lord, please love me as I love you. Let us live happily ever after, until death do us part. Words from my mouth have spoken, I could never love a woman, as much as I love you.
Patiently, I await your reply.
So… What did you guys think?