WilliamShakespeare: Twelfth Night
Theplay “TwelfthNight”is a comedy by William Shakespeare. It is believed that he wrote iteither in 1601 or 1602 on the twelfth feast day, during RenaissanceChristmas season climax. The play features two twins, Sebastian andViola, who lose contacts in a shipwreck, Olivia, a wealthy countess,and Duke Orsino, the Duke of Illyria. Viola loses contact with hisbrother Sebastian at the coast of Illyria. She disguises herself as aman by the name Cesario. Duke Orsino convinces himself that he is inlove with Olivia, who does not see anything charming (Shakespeare,William, and Sidney 45).Unfortunately, Olivia had promised not to be in any relationship witha man, or entertain marriage proposal or love anyone before sevenyears are over after the death of her father and brother. Duke Orsinothen decides to use Viola, disguised as Cesario, to woo Olivia on hisbehalf. Olivia, on the other hand, forgets the seven-year promise andfalls in love with Cesario without knowing she is a woman indisguise. Also, Viola falls in love with Duke Orsino. This creates alove triangle among Viola, Olivia, and Duke Orsino. Duke Orsino lovesOlivia, Olivia loves Viola (Cesario), and Viola loves Duke Orsino.Viola perfectly plays her role, both as Viola and Cesario. She hasseveral advantages that favor “his” role of wooing Olivia forDuke Orsino.
Firstly,Viola, disguised as Cesario, is very attractive, extremely direct,and forthright. In the first scene, Viola is very open when she meetsOlivia for the first time. Olivia believes Cesario is an honest man.Cesario boldly comments on Olivia’s characters. For instance, shecalls her selfish and tells her she is cruel for not leaving a copyof her face because she does not have an offspring. In addition, sheproclaims that Olivia is too proud. However, Olivia does not shunfrom this allegations. Instead, she finds Cesario to be attractivedue to his forthright honesty and realistic insight.
Secondly,Viola human nature favors her to woo Olivia. Cesario is a disguisedwoman hence, she does not have any inhibitions towards Olivia. Thismakes her speak out what is in her mind. Correspondingly, Oliviafinds this refreshing and attractive, and she falls in the realm oflove. It is easy for Olivia to relate well with Cesario due to “his”feminine appearance and personality.
Thirdly,Viola is equally intellectual and free-spirited (Shoaib212).For instance, when she is sent away at the gate, she refuses to goaway. She urges that she is aware of the possible excuses that Oliviais likely to give, and she has strategies to use so that Olivia canspeak to her. This shows Viola intelligence and her ability to wooOlivia. Further, Viola free spirit is witnessed when she criticizeOlivia right in front of her face. Her intelligence is also evidentin her wise choice of words, especially when wooing Olivia. Herstatements are always plausible. Likewise, Viola possessesinstinctive sense when it comes to taking care of herself. Shechooses to disguise herself as a man to avoid dangers she would faceas a woman in a strange place.
Fourthly,Viola and Olivia have similar characteristics both in their lossesand in perseverance. Both are women with responsibilities of takingcare of their estates after losing their family members, Shoaib(200) states.Olivia’s determination enables her to take good care of her estateand even promises herself succumb marriage. She is intrigued when shelearns that Viola has an equal amount of determination andperseverance. Nevertheless, they are both patient and optimistic.
Further,Viola is a dutiful, responsible, and selfless person. She promisesher master, Duke Orsino that she would do her best to woo Olivia.Although she is in love with Orsino, she remains dutiful andresponsible, and she persuades Olivia to love Orsino. Surprisingly,she does this several times. Additionally, her selflessness anddutiful is evident when Olivia reveals her love towards her. Insteadof using this as an opportunity to dissuade Olivia against Orsino,she remains responsible and selfishness and fulfils her duties towooing Olivia on behalf of her master.
Lastly,Viola has a likeable figure. She is young, gorgeous, and nobly born.Just like any other Shakespeare’s heroines, Viola has no seriousfault. Even when disguised as a man, she retains her attractivefigure. Her love seems to be true and love. She can easily fall inlove passionately, unlike Duke Orsino, who is self-indulgently lovestick. In Act 3, Scene 1, Olivia praises Viola’s beauty, and shedoes not even realize she is a woman. According to Sierra(612),Viola magnetic figure drew Olivia away from a mourning state into theland of the living.
Unfortunately,Voila also has some disadvantages in her role of wooing Olivia. Shehas to hide her real identity hence, play both roles of herself andthat of Cesario. In addition, whenever she plans to meet Olivia, shehad to be dressed like a man. This created crisis in the last scenewhen different people surrounded Viola and no one exactly knew whoshe was, and she was unaware of herself. Moreover, she had to dealwith the issue of voice. Being a woman, but disguised as a man, Violahad to change her voice and talk like a man.
Shakespeare,William, and Sidney Lee. TwelfthNight (The Unabridged Play) The Classic Biography: The Life of or, What You Will.e-artnow, 2014.
Shoaib,Muhammad. "Electra Complex in Shakespeare’s TwelfthNight."LapisLazuli-An International Literary Journal (LILJ) Vol 4(2014).
Sierra,Horacio. "Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare(review)." TheatreJournal 66.4(2014): 611-613.