Viola in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night
Viola has a great importance of “Twelfth Night” because she alone helps reveal other main characters’ personalities that would’ve otherwise been hidden. Viola who is disguised as Cesario had the greatest effect in revealing Orsino’s and Olivia’s true natures that were hidden behind their melodramatic and self-involved behaviour. Her strong qualities of being direct, honest and friendly allow her to form close relationships with the both.
In just “but three days” in his service, Viola (as Cesario) has already formed a close relationship with Duke Orsino. “I have unclasped to thee the book even of my secret soul”, Orsino says to her. He uses this
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For every man she has relied on has left her: her father that died “some twelvemonth since” followed by her brother who died recently. Therefore needless to say, she is scared to love again and vows to lock herself from the world for seven years. But after meeting Viola, all her shows of apparent grief and mourning seem to drop away unforgotten. For example, Olivia’s mourning veil symbolises just this. Once the veil that covers Olivia’s face is taken off, “we will draw the curtain and show to the picture”. This is a metaphor between Olivia and a painting, where once the “curtain” is thrown off, her true nature is exposed for any to see, particularly stressing her defencelessness and vulnerability. Eventually, Olivia who is “enchanted” by Viola’s attractiveness and engaging wit must use all her wit and emotional honesty to deal with Viola’s straight-to-the-point nature. For Olivia has become too used to dealing with Orsino’s self-indulgent ways. While Orsino may twiddle around with Olivia’s feelings with elaborate poetry, Viola is more emotionally direct and therefore requires a more emotionally honest response.
When this character is introduced into the play, Viola enters these two lives and brings them both back into reality. Through