The Struggle of Viola’s Emotions in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’

Category: Actors
Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
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Viola is one of the main characters in Shakespeare's play the 'Twelfth Night'. She is dressed as Cesario a man, so you can see how hard it must be for her to show her emotions and reactions. In the play she falls in love with the Duke Orsino but finds it very hard to show her feelings for him because she is dressed as a man. I am using act 2 scene 4 and act 3 scene 1, where she is talking to the Duke in act 2 scene 4, and to the clown Feste in act 3 scene 1. These are very emotional scenes where Viola shows and mentions her feelings, thoughts, reactions and movement.

In these scenes Viola has many feelings. She feels mostly for Orsino because she is in love him. At the end of the scene where she is speaking with Orsino she talks about her fathers daughter that loved a man. Orsino gets interested because he is in love with Olivia but Olivia does not love him. Orsino wants to know what happened to the daughter because he is in despair. Viola feels for him and can offer him no comfort. Her words display how helpless she feels. "I am the daughters of my father's house, and all the brothers too-and yet I know not". Earlier on in the scene Viola feels jealous about Orsino because she feels that he might fall in love with another woman and that he will love that woman as much as he loves Olivia then Viola would never get a chance with him. "Say that some lady, as perhaps there is, hath for your love as great a pang of heart as you have for Olivia".

Viola's thoughts are like her feelings but not mentioned. She finds it very difficult because she is dressed as man and does not want to give her identity away. When she is talking with Feste the clown, he is acting silly and plays around with words. She says that she is sick for a beard but she turns aside and gives a hint that she is a woman. She says that she would not have it grow on her chin, because she is a lady. "I am almost sick for one; (aside) though I would not have it grow on my chin. Is thy lady within?" When she is talking with the clown she thinks that he cares for nothing because he plays around with words and she is quite angry with him. Viola is saying her thoughts out to the clown because she does not like him. "I warrant thou art a merry fellow and carest for nothing".

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Viola reacts to some things that the Duke says. She loves the Duke so she reacts to him in a kind way as not to make him angry or hurt his feelings. In act 2 scene 4 Viola says to the Duke that Olivia cannot love him but the Duke acts stubborn and says that he cannot be so answered. Viola reacts and tells him to calm down but she means not to be hurtful because she loves him. She tries to relax him and tells him to calm down. "Sooth, but you must".

There is very little of Viola's movement. I would say that Viola moved around with Feste the clown because the clown was getting on her nerves. It was in act 3 scene 1 where near the end of the conversation with Feste Viola gives Feste a coin. She moves a round a lot to get away from him because he is pestering her and she wants to get away. She gives the coin to Feste so he can go away. "I'll no more with thee. Hold, there's expenses for thee".

I think that Shakespeare's language is very difficult to understand. There are mixed emotions in the play because Viola is dressed as a man but some of it was quite obvious to understand. Overall I thought the way Shakespeare set this play out was very well and I thought the scenes were well organised.

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The Struggle of Viola’s Emotions in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’. (2017, Aug 27). Retrieved from

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