Viola's Disguise in Twelfth Night

Viola's Disguise in Twelfth Night

Length: 487 words (1.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
      As in most comedies, William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night extensively

uses disguises, masks and mistaken identities to add to the comical nature of

the play. Viola's disguise as Orsino's page, Cesario, becomes crucial to the

action in the play. Without this important element, the action in the play would

slow down dramatically, making the story much less intriguing. In addition to

making the play less interesting, the disguise is also necessary to develop the

storyline involving Sebastian, and the confusion that his return creates. It

also is vital to the conflict between Olivia and Orsino, which depends on

Viola's disguise to keep things exciting.


      Viola's disguise becomes increasing more important as the events take

place. The majority of the plot lines depend on the disguise. Without it, the

main theme of the play would be the gulling of Malvolio. In a play where most of

the characters fall in love with each other, blind to the gender and true

identity of the objects of their desires, a disguise like Viola's becomes the

center of the action, and causes almost all the of the important aspects of the



      The confusion that Sebastian creates when he returns would not occur

without Viola's disguise. Sir Andrew believes that the woman of his desires,

Olivia, is spending too much time with Cesario, and challenges him to a duel. As

he put it, Olivia was doing "more favors to the Count's servingman than ever she

bestowed upon me." (3-2 l.5-7) At first, Viola is nearly forced into a battle,

but is saved when the confused Antonio arrives. Later on, Sebastian and Andrew

do get involved in a scuffle, for which Viola is unjustly blamed. Finally

Sebastian and Viola are reunited, but only after they have already caused a

large amount of chaos and have confused everyone. It is only then that everyone

begins to discover the extent of Viola's trickery.


      More disorder is created when Olivia, who Orsino is hopelessly in love

with, falls for Cesario, who is secretly in love with Orsino. Orsino sends

Cesario to express his affection for Olivia, which Cesario/Viola is not thrilled

with. As she puts it, "whoe'er I woo, myself would be his wife." (1-4 l.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Viola's Disguise in Twelfth Night." 17 Nov 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Does Viola 's Disguise Cause A Kind Of Chaos With Orsino

- Not only did Viola’s disguise cause a sort of chaos with Orsino, it affected others in Illyria, mainly Countess Olivia. Though Viola’s original purpose for the ruse was to gain knowledge aiding her in her search for Sebastian, she has added other functions to the midst. One function is her job with Orsino acting as a mediator between him and Olivia. Viola never thought she would become a messenger. She was far too consumed with the thoughts and concern for her missing brother. It seems that fate intervened bring Viola to Orsino....   [tags: Love, Gender role, Transgender, Twelfth Night]

Research Papers
1808 words (5.2 pages)

The Purpose of Disguise in Twelfth Night Essay

- Theme of Disguise in Twelfth Night The notion of disguise is very important theme within Twelfth Night.  From my point of view I feel that the crux of the play is primarily based on this concept.  Indeed "there's something in it that is deceivable" summarizes this point precisely.  Disguise runs like a thread through the play from start to end and holds it all together just as tightly as thread would fabric.  Yet, paradoxically as the plot progresses there are many problems, deceptions and illusions, which provide a comment on human behavior and creating the needed escape of comedy....   [tags: Twelfth Night essays]

Research Papers
1145 words (3.3 pages)

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

- 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 he...   [tags: Twelfth Night Essays]

Research Papers
1038 words (3 pages)

Use of Disguise in Twelfth Night Essay

- Twelfth Night, "there's something in it that is deceivable". Disguise is very important as a theme in the Twelfth Night.  In fact, disguise is a crucial plot to the play.  It is the thread which runs through the play from start to end and holds it all together.  Yet, paradoxically along the way there are many problems, deceptions and illusions, providing a comment on human behavior and creating comedy. Women's parts were played by boy actors in Shakespeare's day, so the audience would have found special sophistication in Viola's part:  a boy dressing up as a woman who, in the play disguises herself as a man....   [tags: Twelfth Night Essays]

Research Papers
1063 words (3 pages)

Viola as Cesario Faces The Greatest Challenges In The Play Twelfth Night

- The play twelfth night, though largely a comedy, has it's fair share of challenges and obstacles which it's characters face throughout the plot. These revolve around love, honour and the death and loss of loved ones. However one character stands out to me as having faced the most difficult and trying of challenges, yet emerged with her pride and dignity intact. She coped well with all the problems that were thrown at her with a quiet resilience far beyond her years, and is worthy of our admiration....   [tags: Character Analysis Twelfth Night Shakespeare]

Free Essays
1070 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

- In the play Twelfth Night Viola’s disguise is a prime example of Feste’s line in the play “nothing that/ is so is so” (4.1.6-7). Everything is not as it seems, this is shown through Viola’s disguise as “Cesario” which causes issues of mistaken identities throughout the play. Viola’s disguise becomes a problem for the Duke, Orsino because he actually trusts her, and believes that she is truly a man. Another character who is affected by Viola’s disguise is Malvolio. Malvolio is used as the messenger of love between Olivia and Cesario....   [tags: Viola, literary analysis]

Research Papers
1056 words (3 pages)

Disguise in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night Essays

- Disguise in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night        Disguise is a device Shakespeare employs frequently in both Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night. It allows a disguised character like the Duke of Vienna to glean information that would otherwise go unknown, and a character like Viola to take advantage of potentially beneficial situations. It gives these characters access to worlds that might otherwise be denied; for the Duke, he can now "haunt assemblies / Where youth and cost a witless bravery keeps" (1.4.9-10)....   [tags: Measure Twelfth Night Essays Shakespeare]

Research Papers
1221 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on Irony in Twelfth Night

-       Realizing that her disguise has produced unexpected results, Viola makes an allusion to the Gordon knot in order to describe the perceived difficulty of extricating herself from the confusion. Viola, in the act of reinterpreting herself as a man for the main purpose of protection, has found herself the body from which other characters can derive their own interpretations.               As I am man,             My state is desperate for my master's love:             As I am woman (now alas the day!)             What thriftless sighs shall poor Olivia breathe....   [tags: Twelfth Night essays]

Research Papers
1847 words (5.3 pages)

The Fools in Twelfth Night Essay

- The Fools of Twelfth Night         It is not unusual that the fool should be a prominent figure and make an important contribution in forming the confusion and the humor in an Elizabethan drama. In William Shakespeare's comedy, Twelfth Night, Feste the clown is not the only fool who is subject to foolery. He and many other characters combine their silly acts and wits to invade other characters that either escape reality or live a dream. In Twelfth Night, Feste, Maria and Sir Toby are the fools that make the comedy work in many senses....   [tags: Twelfth Night Essays]

Research Papers
1086 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on Wisdom in Twelfth Night

- Beyond Seriousness to Wisdom in Twelfth Night         Shakespeare seems preoccupied with madness and folly in Twelfth Night. The word "fool" and its variants ("foolery," "foolish," and so forth) appear eighty times in the play, and the word "folly" occurs seven times. There are, in addition, other means of indicating foolishness such as Maria's "Now, sir, thought is free" (1.3.67). As Feste suggests, "Foolery ... does walk about the orb like the sun; it shines everywhere" (3.1.39-40). Robert Armin, who originated the role of Feste, was fascinated by fools and wrote Foole upon Foole, a book which treated this subject....   [tags: Twelfth Night essays]

Research Papers
2734 words (7.8 pages)

Related Searches


This also causes Olivia to become interested in Cesario. Throughout the play,

Viola must continue to reject Olivia's advances while concealing her true

identity. However when Sebastian arrives. her plan begins to fall apart. Olivia

admits to loving her, which makes Orsino angry. However when all of the truth

has been told, Orsino realizes what has happened and agrees to marry Viola, with

Olivia marrying Sebastian, the next best thing to Cesario.


      Viola's disguise, and the resulting chaos, are the most

important elements of the plot of the play, and are crucial to the development

of the plot. Without it, there would be little excitement or intrigue, and

Shakespeare would not be able to thoroughly reflect his views of humanity.
Return to