Characters of Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
The title "What you Will" is a perfect summary of the whole play. This
story is about deception in character, being something you are not;
whether it being disguising gender, true feelings or beliefs.
We never no the real to why Viola chose to disguise her gender. We
must assume that she wants to conceal her identity until she has
gathered enough information about where she is and maybe feels safer
dressed as a boy. He is resourceful and does not take pity on herself,
despite the fact she thinks she has lost her brother she quickly moves
on and tries to make do with the situation.
Her brother describes her as "beautiful with a mind that envy could
not call for." Sebastian is expressing that she is beautiful yet
clever and level-headed. Her eloquence and integrity in which she
conducts herself catches Olivia's attention, resulting into some
seriously difficult situations.
Viola is also selfless, accepting fate and the limitations it places
upon her. She knew she had fallen in love with Duke Orsino and had the
perfect opportunity to come clean and express how she felt when he
asked her about what she thought women should be like. She did not lie
to him nor did she tell him the truth her ability to manipulate
language saved her from revealing her true identity. She even subtly
hinted to the Duke how she felt but her clever language technique made
She is also very aware of where she stands in many situations. When
she realises Olivia has fallen in love with her and that she is caught
up in a love triangle, she knows there is little she can do, saying: "
O time thou must untangle this, not I!/ It is too hard a knot for me
to untie." She admits it is out of her depth.
Until her twin displays the same quality, Viola is the only character
to be constant and unshakeable in the object of her love. She has
remained faithful into longing for Duke Orsino even though he is
clearly infatuated with Olivia.
Twin of Viola, Sebastian has a high noble status but appears on stage
very little until the final Act. The purpose of Sebastian is to foil
the misunderstandings in the plot.
"Provident in peril," Sebastian shares many of his qualities in
addition to their physical similarities.
Like Orsino, Sebastian is quick to respond to a beautiful woman. He
develops affection for Olivia without reservation although he knows
something is odd I the way she was rushing things to claim him before
he changes his mind.
At the beginning of the play he thought he had lost his sister, but by
the end of the play he finds his sister and gains a wife- with minimum
His character is largely defined by the way it mirrors that of his
sisters; whom we get to know quite well and have a great deal of