'Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness', Viola breathes futile sighs, without knowing what to do. It is an irony: To solve a problem, she disguised as a eunuch = a man, yet she found herself in a middle of problems.When she drifts to a foreign land, Illyria, after meeting shipwreck, she decides to disguise herself as a man.
Being a man, she thinks she can avoid most of problems.Conceal me what I am, and be my aidFor such disguise as haply shall becomeThe form of my intent.(Act one Scene 2 line 52)However, hiding her identity, the gender creates a sequence of problems. The problems have become tangled each other, weaving an elaborate story.
The story is full of contradictions, duplicated hidden meanings, ironies and paradoxes, which make rich layers of the story of the Twelfth Nights.The main problem for Viola through being disguised is a love triangle, from which a sequence of problems is derived. Olivia, falls in love with Viola-Cesario, without knowing she is a woman. Viola-Cesario secretly adores Orsino, Duke of Illyria.
Orsino is obsessed with Olivia. However, we don't know if Orsino really loves Olivia or if he just exaggerates his love, because we don't see them together in the stage until the concluding scene. Viola-Cesario is sent for as a messenger of Orsino's love to Olivia. After an unsuccessful mission, Viola-Cesario is given Olivia's ring by her steward, Malvolio, on the way back to Orsino's court. Viola-Cesario realizes Olivia is infatuated with her.
For first time, Viola sees that disguising as other gender is a sin.Disguise, I see thou art a wickednessWherein the pregnant enemy does much.(Act two Scene 2 line 24)She found that Olivia, Orsino and herself are now all in pain about unfruitful loves.My master loves her dearly;And I, poor monster, fond as much on him;And she, mistaken, seems to dote on me.(Act two Scene 2 line 30)She confesses her fondness towards her master, Orsino.
As long as she continues to disguise as a man, she has no chance for her love and has to conceal her feelings. She is trapped in an ironical situation. She feels all these are a result of her committing a sin.As I am man,My state is desperate for my master's love;As I am a women - now alas the day! -(Act two Scene 2 line 33)At this point, the audience at Shakespeare's time would have realized that 'disguise as a man' had a double-meaning. Because at that time female roles were played by young boys, therefore, Viola was played by a young boy as a female role, who was disguising as a man. When the actor addressed these lines, they were referred to the actor himself as well as Viola herself.
This trick of words must have brought excitements to the audience, because it was a challenge towards the Elizabethan anti-theatrical pamphleteers, who condemned cross-dressing.Involving in the love triangle, Viola has to go through difficult missions. However, she demonstrates a talent for being as a man who cleverly hints her feelings, when she talked about 'Love' with Orsino and she smartly manipulates the subject without telling a lie, when Olivia confesses her love for her.When Viola-Cesario was asked what kind of women she is in love with by Orsino, she says,Of your complextion.(Act two Scene 4 line 26)When she was is how old, she answersAbout your years, my lord.
(Act two Scene 4 line 29)Orsino subconsciously has received her message. Had musicians and a crown existed, only Viola and Orsino are left. The conversation has become a strain. Viola continues to drop hints about her concealed love, pretending to be talking non-specific matter. When Orsino refuses to accept Olivia's refusal, Viola told him,Say that some lady, as perhaps there is,Hath for your love as great a pang of heartAs you have for Olivia; you cannot love her;You tell her so; must she not then be answered?(Act two Scene 4 line 92)When Orsino dismisses Viola's statement, saying that no woman can love as strongly as he does. Viola says that she knows such a women, implying herself.
My father had a daughter loved a man,As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,I should your lordship.(Act two scene 4 line 109)The words finally caught him, and he asks,And what's her history?(Act two scene 4 line 110)Viola continues to describe 'her sister' with her suppressed emotions arising.She pinned it thought,And with a green and yellow melancholy,She sat like Patience on a monument,Smiling at grief.(Act two Scene 4 line 115)Orsino starts moving her story and asks,But died they sister of her love, my boy?(Act two Scene 4 line 122)Viola endes her story with clever ambiguity.I am all the daughters of my father's house,And all the brothers too; and yet I know not.
(Act two Scene 4 line 123)Viola goes to see Olivia to persuade Orsino's love. However, she is unexpectedly wooed by Olivia. Again, Viola cleverly plays with words. Viola is talking in riddles, which are explaining about the situation that Olivia is in. These Viola's words philosophically sound to Olivia and impress her. More Viola explains, Olivia is more charmed by Viola's intelligence without understanding real meaning of the words.
The climax of the conversation is when Olivia asks Viola,Stay;I prithee, tell me what thou think'st of me.(Act three Scene 1 line 135)Viola says,That you do think you are not what you are.(Act three Scene 1 line 136)Viola implies 'You think you are in love with a man, but you are not', while Olivia assumed Viola has rudely said, 'You think you are superior, but you are not', and she angrily says,If I think so, I think the same of you.(Act three Scene 1 line 137)Viola ingeniously tricks this 'tit for tat' (you are same, you are not what you think) into the meaning.Then think you right; I am not what I am.(Act three Scene 1 line 138)Yes, Viola means that she is not a man, as well as the actor playing Viola means that he is not a woman.
Some audience would have highly amused by cleverly elaborated these word-exchanges, some audience have shared pains with Viola hiding her own identity, while some audience would have been intoxicated by same-sex eroticism when a young-boy-look woman was confessing a love towards chauvinistic mature man or as a noble-look woman was wooing a boy-costumed woman.This love triangle affair generates life-threatening problems. Sir Andrew, who fancies Olivia is set for duel with Viola-Cesario by Sir Toby, a supposed-friend of Sir Andrew and Fabian, a servant of Olivia. Sir Andrew is toying with an idea being a husband of Olivia, yet he never told of true his feelings towards Olivia. The naughty guys persuade Sir Andrew to challenge Viola-Cesario to a duel and so win Olivia's affection by his bravery.
Viola-Cesario desperately tries to avoid the duel, and later Sir Andrew is equally frightened and tries to call off the duel. Yet, Sir Toby forces them to draw swords. At this point, the atmosphere of the theatres would have been increasingly tense and most audience would have cursed about an irony of Viola's double-life and prayed for saving her life.All of a sudden, Antonio enters and intervenes the duel on the Viola's behalf.
Antonio is the rescuer of Sebastian, Viola's twin brother during the shipwreck and he worships Sebastian. Antonio has mistaken Viola for Sebastian in life-threatening trouble. With Antonio's intervene, the duel is ceased.Soon after, two officers come to arrest Antonio for the old sea-battle with Orsino's army. Antonio asks to give back a purse that she entrusted Sebastian with, believing that Viola is Sebastian. Viola says that she has never received the purse but can lend some money.
She also mentions that she has never met Antonio before. Antonio is shocked at Viola's word and addresses how Viola/Sebastian should be shame himself. Viola becomes absent minded, trying to understand how this misunderstanding has happened and realises that Antonio said he had saved Sebastian. Receiving this happy news, her mind is fully occupied with Sebastian, forgetting about all problems that she is having. Antonio is taken away by the officers.
Has known that Viola is a helpless swordsman and encouraged by Sir Tony again, Sir Antonio has decided to challenge a dual to Viola, again. Out of the frying pan into the fire - the tension within the audience would have continued to remain.Finally, Sebastian appears in front of the people familiar with the audience. Feste (a crown), Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Olivia, who come across Sebastian, all have mistaken him for Viola-Cesario.
From it, they encounter unexpected consequences. Feste is treated as a beggar and threatened to be physically assaulted. Sir Andrew and Sir Toby challenge Sebastian and got injuries, badly bleeding. Olivia astonishingly gets married to Sebastian.
They don't know what is really happening. Being in incomprehensive situation, the people in Illyria seems to be mad to Sebastian and he shouts,Are all the people mad?(Act four scene 1 line23)Yes, the people in Illyria look to become insane. Things are becoming more complicated, moving quickly one after another. The tone of the play is becoming upbeat, releasing the audience from the tension of the duel and making them to feel optimistic about the end.The last scene of the play happens on the premises of Olivia's house. Everyone, apart from Maria, show themselves to create a final topsy-turvy climax.
Previously, the complications in the main plot were caused by Viola disguised as opposite gender, which are now topped by another element, a mistaken identification between Viola and Sebastian. Things have become more intervaven, although text has become rather plain and speeches start loosing sharpness.Orsino meets for the fist time the women with whom he has been obsessed. He notices that Olivia's attentions are committed to Viola. Believing that Viola is Sebastian Olivia feels annoyed that Viola is showing loyalty towards her master Orsino.
Olivia insults Orsino by saying,If be aught to the old tune, my load,It is as fat and fulsome to mine ear,(Act five scene 1 line 101)Hurt his pride, Orsino threatens Olivia to kill her as an Egyptian brigand in the old days killed a lover when he was surrounded by enemies. Orsino repeatedly has said that he is in be devoted to Olivia. However, underneath of the feeling, he is attached to Viola. Orsino suddenly flipped a logic and says that he could kill Viola.
Come, boy, with me; my thoughts are ripe in mischief;I'll sacrifice the lamb that I love,To spite a raven's heart within a dove.(Act five scene 1 line 122)Viola openly addresses her deep devotion to Orsino. The confession, made by Viola as a young man to the mature man, would have spread a scent of eroticism of forbidden love to the audience.After him I loveMore than I love these eyes, more than my life,More, by all mores, than e'er I shall love wife.If I do feign, you witnesses above,Punish my life for tainting of my love!Olivia becomes desperate, since Viola, who she believes her husband, tries to leave with Orsino, deserting her.
Olivia calls Viola 'My husband' and accuses that Viola-Cesario is frightened to tell what she is.Alas! It is the baseness of thy fearThat makes thee strangle thy propriety.Fear not, Cesario; take thy fortunes up;(Act five scene 1 line 140)And Olivia commands Viola to tell what she/he is.Be that thou know'st thou art, and then thou artAs great as that thou fera'st(Act five scene 1 line 140)As well as Olivia's command, this line is a great joke of Shakespeare.
Because Olivia believes that Viola-Cesario is a man who is hiding the identity of her husband, although the truth is visa-versa. This line also is a great irony of the play, because 'false identity' is the chief theme of the play and the story is followed by concealing the identity.Finally, Sebastian appears on stage where the love-triangle quarrel is taking place. While everyone is so astonished by seeing a duplication of Viola-Cesario that they freeze, Sebastian finds Antonio and gets excited with joy. When Sebastian finds Viola-Cesario, this is his turn to get astonished, because he has believed that Viola had died in a shipwreck.
He doesn't realise that the person standing in front of him is Viola, and he says,Do I stand there? I never had a brother;Nor can there be that deity in my nature,(Act five scene 1 line 218)They tentatively begin to come together, confirming their identify to each other. The audience would have expected them to embrace each other, yet they didn't, or couldn't. Sadly, Viola's mind is restricted by being disguising.If nothing lets to make us happy both,But this my masculine usurped attire,Do not embrace me till each circumstance(Act five scene 1 line 241)Everyone in the play has realised that Viola is a woman and Sebastian is her twin brother and their identities were mistaken. Sebastian feels disappointed, because he understands that Olivia initially fell into love with Viola, and not with him. Olivia feels confused about her own feelings; who does she really love? After that, she never address her love towards Sebastian, yet accepted him as her husband.
Orsino shows his interest in Viola, though he is not fully sure that he would be fond of Viola in woman dress, a possible admission of doubt?Give me thy hand;And let me see thee in thy woman's weeds.(Act five scene 1 line 265)As the story nearly ends, the problems encountered by Viola through being disguised seem to be creating future problems. This is a great paradox: Viola and Viola as a man is the same person, yet different personality. Because a personality is always described how a third person sees and understands it, and how it largely effects on person's judgement.
Orsio and Viola are to marry. Olivia offers to have a celebration together with her marriage at her expense. Orsio accepts it. However, what is going to happen in their respectable marriages? Because Orsio and Olivia don't know who they have fallen into love.
The essay only focused on the problems related with Viola, although there is a sub plot simultaneously happening with the main plot. In the sub plot, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Olivia's servant tricks Malvolio by sending a letter disguised as Olivia's love letter to him. The sub plot is narrated much more comically and hilariously, which stops the main plot from sliding into melodrama.Feste, a clown appears from time to time in the play.
He talks paradoxes or ironies, which injects periodic touch of spice to the play.