Characters From Shakesperes Tw Essay

3308 words - 13 pages

Viola Viola is one of Shakespeare's most charming and admirable heroines, and certainly the most sympathetic of the major "serious" characters (Orsino, Olivia, and herself) in Twelfth Night. Though she's forced to disguise herself as a page, for safety's sake, she's apparently as well-born as Olivia is - the daughter of Sebastian of Messaline, a highly-placed nobleman in his own land. She's also very attractive physically - which can be inferred from the fact that even in male attire she's graceful enough for Orsino to comment on her good looks.But perhaps the most attractive aspect of Viola - to a modern audience, at least - is her vigorous, good-humored, unpretentious personality. Unlike Olivia, whose counterpart and opposite she is, she makes no melodramatic plans to mourn her brother's apparent death with extravagant gestures. Instead, her grief is quiet, deep, sincere - and tinged with hope that Sebastian may still be alive. Furthermore, finding herself in a difficult, perhaps compromising position in a strange country, she spends little time bemoaning the harshness of her fate, but immediately sets to work with characteristic practical energy to figure out a way to improve her situation. When she enters Orsino's service, her talent, wit, and good looks quickly captivate him, just as, soon after, when she's sent to "woo" Olivia, these qualities also entrance the Countess. Indeed, in almost every scene in which she appears - whether she's jesting with Feste, quietly philosophizing with Orsino, or gracefully flattering Olivia-Viola's courtly skill and down-to-earth charm are clearly evident. Most of all, when she herself falls deeply, and apparently hopelessly, in love with Orsino, though she feels very strongly the frustration and pain of her position (disguised as a boy, but perfectly able to love like a woman) her justifiable melancholy is neither extravagant, like Olivia's, nor egotistical, like Orsino's. She does her best at all times to conceal it, and we can't help respecting her for her determination to sit "like Patience on a monument," always putting the best face on things and always, whenever possible, "smiling at grief." Olivia Though basically a noble, generous, passionate woman, Olivia has many more faults than Viola has. Indeed, Shakespeare probably meant us to regard the two as emotional opposites, or at least as counterparts of each other, Thus Olivia's name may be considered an anagram (rearrangement) of Viola's, since it contains all the same letters (with an extra i), and Olivia's problems (the loss of a brother, an unwanted courtship, and unrequited love) are also the same as Viola's. But the Illyrian lady's reaction to these difficulties is very different from the energetic young "page's." Olivia seems to have been much more spoiled than Viola, and as Viola herself points out, she is Vtoo proud," as well as too extravagant by nature. She melodramatically resolves to mourn her brother's death for seven years - and in that...

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