Essay on Examining Viola's Character in Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Essay on Examining Viola's Character in Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

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Examining the relationship between speech, public space and authority for Viola's Character in Twelfth Night

One of the most celebrated and authoritative women in the 16th century was Elizabeth I. Even though the authority was at woman's hands at that time, a dominant woman was unnatural in the society itself. The presence of such a powerful female figure creates an interesting situation for dramatists and playwrights in terms of depicting women's status at that time. By using the psychological concept ,liminality; I am going to examine the relationship between Viola's speech , society's authority and her public space which is consists of two main parts: her private life as Viola and her public life as Cesario and how this relationship has a great impact upon her character development.
The liminality can be defined as a psychological state when a person wavers between two worlds. The character's life can be defined as both destructive and creative. His/her identity is uncertain due to a conflict.As for Viola the possible death of her brother and her disguise place her on the margin of her public and private life. This concept exploits one of the Elizabethan stereotypes which is the uncertainty of the sexual identity. To carry this concept further, shakespearean theater overrides these views by having a male actor plays a female role. Meanwhile, it presents Viola in order to convey female capabilities and instincts by her physical transformation to a male in a compelling society.
The liminality in performing Twelfth Night lies in sexual ambiguity on the stage. It enables a boy actor to play viola's role and disguised as a boy who is wooing another boy who plays a female role . The audience sees no more than a p...


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...wants to return to her proper position. Her disguise ;nevertheless, prevents her to do so. As the duke's servant, Viola has the freedom to speak about love , but as Viola she couldn't expose this love to him
Viola's situation is precarious due to the liminality she has experienced throughout the play . She could live freely away from the society's authority behind her transformation, but the liminality she faced caused her troubles in expressing her true feelings. She is in between her femininity and her twin brother adopted masculinity. But soon as her disguised is discarded, she returns to her proper situation voluntarily accepting the role that the society imposes on her: the role of a wife.
Works Cited

"William Shakespeare, William. "Twelfth Night." Norton's Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York City: W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.

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