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In What Ways Might Viola Be Said To Be Seen As The Central Character Of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night?

1175 words - 5 pages

Viola can easily be perceived to be the central character of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. She sets the plot in motion, being the first character to start stirring up action in the play, becoming the indispensable link between characters and is connected to every single one. Eventually, she aids the resolution of all the impediments of the story. Viola is also the most intelligent character, the only one without any obvious faults, unlike most of the others, who make the play humorous in a satirical way.Firstly, Viola sets the play "in motion". It is her arrival on the island of Illyria which starts the confusion and chaos on the mythical island. Her poignant plight of the inconveniences with ...view middle of the document...

As she is connected to these three characters - Sebastian, Orsino and Olivia - she immediately has indirect links with every single character in the play. For example, without knowing it, Viola is the rival of Sir Andrew and Orsino, as they are supposedly both competing for the love of Olivia. This can clearly be seen when Sir Andrew, jealous and feeling jilted, challenges Viola to a duel, saying, "I saw your niece do more favours to the count's servingman than she ever bestowed upon me" (III. ii. 4-5). She is the one sought out by Olivia's uncle, Sir Toby, while he is acting as the messenger between Sir Andrew and Viola. She also has an in-depth discussion with Feste, the fool in Act 3, Scene 1. Finally, Antonio, the man who saved Sebastian from the shipwreck, mistakes Viola for Sebastian and throws himself into a fit of furious rage, narrowly being considered as insane in the process.However, Viola fulfils another purpose in the play, acting as the catalyst, solving the problems which arise during the play. Even though she creates many difficulties herself, for example, by dressing up as a man, she accidentally incites the attraction of Olivia and the anger of Antonio, Viola herself presents the solutions to many of the setbacks of the play, particularly in the final scene. For example, by marrying Orsino, she not only gains a wealthy, esteemed husband for herself and distracts Orsino from pursuing Olivia. Viola also builds a powerful, everlasting bond between the two without any of the connotations and obsessive love Olivia originally feared, as Olivia is now the sister-in-law of Orsino - "sweet sister, we will not part from hence" (V.i.361-2).Viola can be said to be the character representing true, pure love, when in Illyria, many of the characters claim to be "in love" when their "love" is really a combination of infatuation, self-deceit and self-indulgence. For example, Orsino and Olivia superficially fall in lust, Orsino with Olivia and Olivia with Cesario/Viola, but believe it to...

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