The Changing Role In Viola/Cesario In The Twelfth

This essay has a total of 1041 words and 6 pages.

The Changing Role In Viola/Cesario In The Twelfth Night


In Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", it is clearly evident that the fluctuation in attitude
to the dual role and situation and tribulations imposed upon the character of
Viola/Cesario ends up in a better understanding of both sexes, and thus, allows Viola to
have a better understanding for Orsino. Near the opening of the play, when Viola is
adopting her male identity, she creates another self, like two masks and may decide to
wear one or the other while swinging between the two identities in emotion and in
character. She decides to take on this identity because she has more freedom in society in
her Cesario mask, which is evident when she is readily accepted by Orsino, whereas, in her
female identity she would not be. Thus, a customary role in society and to the outlooks of
others is portrayed.


Orsino sees Cesario, as a young squire just starting out in the world, much like himself
as a young, spry lad, so he has a tendency to be more willing to unload onto her with his
troubles and sorrows, seeking a companion with which to share and to teach. Thus, Viola
grows in her male disguise to get a better feeling for his inner self, not the self that
he shows to the public, or would reveal and share with Viola in her true female self, but
rather his secret self, as he believes he shares with a peer. So, she grows to love him.
But, Orsino's motivation is actually not love for Viola, but rather he seems to be in love
with love itself. His entire world is filled with love but he knows that there might be a
turning point for him, like when he says:


If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the
appetite may sicken, and so die. 1. (I,I,I-III)


This quote shows that he knows that he is so caught up in "love", that he hopes his
appetite for love may simmer when he takes more than he can handle.


1. Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. Longman's Canada Limited, Don Mills, Ontario,
1961. All subsequent quotes are from this edition.


Near the end of the play, when all tricks and treacheries are revealed and all masks are
lifted, Orsino "falls" in love with Viola. He first forgives her/him of her/his duty to
him, the master; then says that she shall now be her master's mistress:


Your master quits you; and for your service done him, so much against the mettle of your
sex, so far beneath your soft and tender breeding, and since you call'd me master for so
long, here is my hand. You shall from this time be your master's mistress. (V,I,322-327)


This is sort of a switching love as he thought he was in love with Olivia in the
beginning, but, he readily switches his love to Viola, as he feels he knows her
personality well.


As for Viola, she declares her love for Orsino many times, as if by saying that she would
love him if she were a lady. When Orsino first sends Cesario to act as a messenger and
send Orsino's love to Olivia, Cesario proclaims:


I'll do my best to woo your lady;[aside]
yet, a barful strife! Whoe'er I woo,
myself would be his wife. (I,IV, 40-42)

This shows that Viola knows what a difficult situation that she is in, and that she might
try to woo her out of loving Orsino, so that she might have him for herself; except there
is a slight, unexpected twist of fate...


Continues for 3 more pages >>




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