Role Of Female Characters In Twelfth Night

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In William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the female characters have a strong constitution specifically Olivia and Viola. The play begins with a shipwrecked Viola who decides to disguise herself and go under the assumed name of 'Cesario'. Viola 'Cesario' falls in love with Duke Orsino who is in love with Olivia. The Duke asks for Cesario to woo Olivia for him however Olivia begins to fall for Cesario. Later, Viola's twin brother reappears, and Olivia mistakes him for Cesario proposes to him. In the end, Cesario reveals he is Viola, and the Duke proposes to her. Viola's strength comes from her ability to control her emotions which makes her the stronger female character.
In Twelfth Night, Olivia's main strength lies within her rebellion
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In Hodgson and Smith’s article, “"A cypress, not a bosom, hides my heart": Olivia's Veiled Conversions,” they discuss the symbolism of Olivia’s veiling and unveiling in Twelfth Night. Hodgson and Smith argue that Olivia’s characterization as the widow-like maiden expresses her as an independent figure in Twelfth Night. Hodgson and Smith observe,“‘If the cultural fear of transferred desire and the cultural anxiety over an unmanned woman coalesced around the figure of the desirous widow (of Ephesus or of Illyria), such anxieties are neither uniformly felt or supported in a text like Twelfth Night.’” (Hodgson and Smith, para. 30). Hodgson and Smith discuss how Olivia pursuit of Cesario can be seen as her way of breaking against the stigma of being an unattended female. They say that because she chose to pursue Cesario even though he is lesser in ranking and age can be perceived as her way of keeping her own status. The critics state that Olivia is unscorned for her attempt at rebellion that she was unpunished for separating herself from the social norm. The critic says her shift from mourning to passion means she is unveiling herself and focusing on a new pursuit. They state she is trading one condition for the other. Hodgson and Smith argue that Olivia still hides from the world, but now it is with Cesario. Hodgson and Smith state that there is a kind fuss about an
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