In Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, it is clearly evident that thefluctuation in attitude to the dual role and situation and tribulations imposedupon the character of Viola/Cesario ends up in a better understanding of bothsexes, and thus, allows Viola to have a better understanding for Orsino. Nearthe opening of the play, when Viola is adopting her male identity, she createsanother self, like two masks and may decide to wear one or the other whileswinging between the two dentities in emotion and in character. She decides totake on this identity because she has more freedom in society in her Cesariomask, which is evident when she is readily accepted by Orsino, whereas, in herfemale identity she would not be. Thus, a customary role in society and to theoutlooks of others is portrayed. Orsino sees Cesario, as a young squire juststarting out in the world, much like himself as a young, spry lad, so he has atendency to be more willing to unload onto her with his troubles and sorrows,seeking a companion with which to share and to teach.Order now
Thus, Viola grows in hermale disguise to get a better feeling for his inner self, not the self thatheshows to the public, or would reveal and share with Viola in her true femaleself, but rather his secret self, as he believes he shares with a peer. So, shegrows to love him. But, Orsino’s motivation is actually not love for Viola, butrather he seems to be in love with love itself. His entire world is filled withlove but he knows that there might be a turning point for him, like when hesays: If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it, that,surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die.
(206) This quote shows that heknows that he is so caught up in “love”, that he hopes his appetitefor love may simmer when he takes more than he can handle. Near the end of theplay, when all tricks and treacheries are revealed and all masks are lifted,Orsino “falls” in love with Viola. He first forgives her/him ofher/his duty to him, the master; then says that she shall now be her master’smistress: Your master quits you; and for your service done him, so much againstthe mettle of your sex, so far beneath your soft and tender breeding, and sinceyou call’d me master for so long, here is my hand. You shall from this time beyour master’s mistress (237) This is sort of a switching love as he thought hewas in love with Olivia in the beginning, but, he readily switches his love toViola, as he feel she knows her personality well. As for Viola, she declares herlove for Orsino many times, as if by saying that she would love him if she werea lady.
When Orsino first sends Cesario to act as a messenger and send Orsino’slove to Olivia, Cesario proclaims: I’ll do my best to woo your lady; asideyet, a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife. (210) This showsthat Viola knows what a difficult situation that she is in, and that she mighttry to woo her out of loving Orsino, so that she might have him for herself;except there is a slight, unexpected twist of fate. . . After Cesario leaves fromOlivia’s, she declares: yet my state is well; I am a gentleman. ” I’ll besworn thou art.
Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, and spirit, do give theefive-fold blazon. Not too fast: soft, soft! Unless the master were the man. Hownow! Even so quickly may one catch the plague? Methinks I feel this youth’s per-fections with an invisible and subtle stealth to creep in at mine eyes. Well,let it be.
What ho, Malvolio! (212) Olivia, is thinking back to her question toCesario, and his response to it. Then she replies to Cesario’s response, toherself, thinking about him. She agrees with his response, then goes over hismany delightfulfeatures, and wonders how she so quickly has caught the plague oflove for young Cesario. She decides that it is her feeling towards his youthfulperfections that creep into her heart and to her eyes.
Then she agrees with herdecision, and sends for Malvolio, in hope that he may recall Cesario, so thatshe may talk with him again. Olivia feels a strong passionate love for Cesario,even though it was love at first sight for her. Cesario presented (himself) verymagnificently and left a lasting impression in Olivia’s mind. The next time thatCesario came by, Olivia declared: hood, honour, truth and everything, I lovethee so, that, maugre all thy pride, nor wit nor reason can my passion hide. (224) This verifies that Olivia is profoundly in love with Cesario, despite allhis pride.
But, Cesario does not possess the same sentiments for Olivia as hesays: By innocence I swear, and by my youth, I have one heart, one bosom and onetruth, And that no woman has; nor never none shall mistress be of it, save Ialone. And so adieu, good madam. (229) Here, Viola tells Olivia that she couldnever love her, nor any other woman because she only has one love (to Orsino)and is loyal. But, Olivia is still in love, and requests that Cesario return. Overall, Viola learns that in the role of Cesario she had to be quick on herfeet, and defend the probing questions and statements as to her love and otherslove for her.
As well she acquired the skill to bide her time, until the timewas right, lest she reveal her true self or intentions.Shakespeare