William Shakespeare 's Twelfth Night

Decent Essays

Twelfth Night, a romantic piece by William Shakespeare expresses a complex love triangle in the village of Illyria. One of the primary protagonists, Viola is washed up onto the shores during violent storms that separate her and her biological twin brother Sebastian. Viola is uncertain if her brother Sebastian survived. It is a coincidence, that the tragic shipwreck carried Viola to the enemy state (Illyria). Unfortunately, this forces the character to go into disguise in order to survive on the male dominated land. Viola is perhaps the strongest character in this work, maintaining her roles and ignoring temptations. The character uses Sebastian strength in his absence. On the other hand, when in Sebastian’s presence Viola becomes weak …show more content…

“Conceal me what I am, and be my aid/ for such disguise as haply shall become/ The form of my intent. I’ll serve this Duke/ Thou shall present me as a eunuch to him”. Viola sought to serve someone of significance and power. By dressing as a male and acting the part, she is able to secure a position as Duke Orsino’s servant and messenger. Now fitting in to society, Viola, or “Cesario”, runs into another conflict.
Viola’s actions of switching gender roles sets the tone for the plot. Since Viola is in disguise for her own benefits, her identity cannot be revealed. This becomes a conflict when she falls in love with Orsina who is love struck over Olivia. Olivia shows no interest in Orsina but grows to be attracted to Cesario, clueless to the fact that Viola is a woman. Viola’s mourning is parallel to Olivia’s (who is mourning the loss of her brother as well). However, the two women handle the situations in different manners.
Socially speaking, treatment of the character Viola is two-fold. As Cesario, the character is initially used for the Duke’s personal benefit. Toby, Olivia’s servant uncle attempts to manipulate “Cesario” for the sole purpose of entertainment. On the other hand, the genuine personality of Viola gains respect from both Orsino and Olivia. Both individuals find attraction in Cesario’s masculine and feminine characteristics. Moreover, Valentine reveals that the gender switch is

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