Theme of Appearance vs Reality is pervasive throughout the play and its various facets are manifested through various thematic expressions. At the very start of the play, the most subtle aspect of Appreance vs Reality is presented in the form of Orsino’s conviction of love for Olivia. He becomes a victim to fictitious idealism as he has not seen Olivia and does not have a glance in three months (the course of the play).
Shakespeare depicts Orsino as a sentimental lover who suffers from the ‘sweet pangs’ (II.
4.16) of love and ecstasy that have no real existence. Instead of locating the reality of his passion and to find a remedy, he again goes for a solution that is deceptive. In the first two scene of the first Act, he yearns for music to cure his sentimentality. Undoubtedly Orsino has reverted himself into the realm of illusory world by the caprices of his imagination.
Shakespeare has juxtaposed the Duke’s unadulterated distress for Cesario’s ‘sister’ with Orsino’s fictitious idealism.
He implies that behind all the fake sentimentalities of affectation there is a genuine individual who has genuine concerns. But revelation of another deception i.e. unearthing that Cesario is a woman, helps him to cast away his own belief in appearance and he acknowledges the speciousness of his apparent made-up fondness for Olivia.
Orsino does not fell a prey to appearance (instead of reality) due to any inherent flaw in his personality or his psychological complexities but it is a result of his lack of suffiecient experience in the real world especially in the amorous affairs. Same is the case with Olivia whi looks for apprence instead of locating the reality o his passions for Orsino.
But Shakespeare juxtaposes them with certain other minor characters like Molvolio who do not acknowledge the reality and never cast away their belief in appearance till the end of the play whereas Orsine and Olivia learns that appearance is always deceptive and becomes realist at the end of the play..