Viola: The Master of Disguise

Paper Rating: Word Count: 1248 Approx Pages: 5

The "Twelfth Night  by William Shakespeare creates interesting characters that disguise themselves and produce interesting twists and turns in the play. Viola disguises herself as a delicate male in Orsino's house. She believes that her brother, Sebastian, perished in the sea and in order to survive in this strange land, she must disguise herself as a male servant. Viola's disguise, Cesario, generates many different emotions among many different individuals. Even though she is only one character it appears that she affects an array of characters when it comes to intimacy and love. Being forced to disguise herself, Viola faces many challenges. She first must appear like a man despite her feminine features. She also has to gain the respect and trust of not only Orsino, but also Olivia. Viola is forced into the disguise of Cesario to fit in to a new society she washed upon, while simultaneously finding love and manipulating the inner workings of Orsino and Olivia's households.

Although at one time Viola looked like a woman, her life changed course when she became shipwrecked. Suddenly, Viola finds herself on the coast of Illyria with a Captain and she says, "What country, friends, is this?  (1.2.1). Her brother Sebastian and herself were on a boat that wrecked and she believes him to be deceased (1.2.3-15). Distraught and desperate, Viola turns to the Captain for help. She needs a way to survive in this new strange land. Viola decides that,

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 shalt present me as an eununch to him.

The Captain will keep her secret and be the only one that knows. Viola believes that a disguise can be the only way into this new land for her. She will pose as a male servant and manipulate her way into Orsino's hom... Continue Reading