In Shakespeare's comedic and light-hearted story the Twelfth Night, Olivia, a rich countess of Illyria, is the constant admiration of Orsino, Duke of Illyria. Orsino, who in his cowardly ways is unable to approach Olivia, so sends Cesario (Viola, disguised as a man) to court Olivia for him. Generally accustomed to being treated with dignity and respect, Olivia is flirtatious and playful in romantic matters. Her behavior toward Viola-Cesario, with whom she is infatuated, is thrown in high contrast to Viola's mostly nonchalant and subtle flattering of Orison. .
Cesario appeals to Olivia when he speaks of the Duke's love in a poetic and soothing quality. Cesario states, "With adorations, and fertile tears/ With groans that thunder love, with signs of fire," wooing Olivia with his passionate words expressing the Duke's undying true love (I, v, 244-5). Cesario shows his vulnerability when saying, "Make me a willow cabin at your gate/ And call upon my soul within the house But make the babbling gossip of the air Cry out Olivia!" which also shows (I, v, 257-63) Cesario also courts Olivia in a teasing and sarcastic but respectful manner, showing Olivia is not all seriousness, revealing a humorous side. Olivia shows attraction for Cesario because of his expressive and unrehearsed speeches of devotion. Cesario, being a woman herself, is telling Olivia things any women wants to hear, making it easy for Cesario to appeal to Olivia. Olivia proclaims her love to Cesario by saying, "Yet come again; for thou perhaps mayst move/ That heart which now abhors to like his love," revealing her incapability of not falling in love with Cesario and feeling unable to stop what is happening in the matters of love but let fate take it's course (III, ii, 162-3).
In another encounter with Cesario, Olivia believes "If one should be the pray, how much the better/ To fall before the lion than the wolf" (III, I, 127-8).