Viola (Twelfth Night)

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Viola
Twelfth Night character
Scene from Twelfth Night - Francis Wheatley.jpg
Francis Wheatley painted the character Viola preparing to duel, circa 1771
Created by William Shakespeare
Information
AliasCesario was disguised as a man
FamilySebastian (twin brother)

Viola is the protagonist of the play Twelfth Night , written by William Shakespeare.

Contents

Role in the play

Viola's actions produce all of the play's momentum. She is a young woman of Messaline. In the beginning, Viola is found shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria and separated from her twin brother, not knowing whether he is alive or dead, the Sea Captain tells her that this place is ruled by the Duke Orsino, who is in love with the Countess Olivia. Viola wants to serve her, but, finding this impossible, she has the Sea Captain dress her up like a eunuch, so she can serve the Duke instead.

Viola chooses the name Cesario and secures a position as a page working for the Duke. He then entrusts Cesario (Viola) to express his love for Olivia. Cesario continues to pass messages back and forth between the Duke and Olivia, but this eventually places her in somewhat of a quandary: she is forced by duty to do her best to plead Orsino's case to Olivia, but an internal conflict of interest arises when she falls in love with Orsino, and Olivia, believing her to be male, falls in love with her. Upon receiving a ring from Olivia's steward, Viola contemplates the love triangle her disguise has created, admitting only time can solve it.

When Sebastian, Viola's lost twin, arrives alive and well in Illyria with a pirate named Antonio, the chaos of mistaken identity ensues because of their remarkably similar looks, only made more similar due to Viola dressing up as a male. The absurdity of the identity crisis builds until Sebastian and Viola as Cesario meet for the first time, and eventually recognise one another. Olivia and Sebastian have already been secretly married, as she mistook him for Cesario, and Sebastian, ignorant of the foregoing love triangle, was simply entranced by a beautiful woman. Ultimately then, given what he has witnessed, Orsino admits that he will no longer pursue Olivia, agreeing to love her as his sister, and decides to take Viola as his wife once she quits her disguise.

Although Viola is the play's protagonist, her true name is not spoken by any character—including herself—until the final scene of the play (Act 5, scene 1).

Art and stage depictions

Circa 1771 Francis Wheatley used actress Elizabeth Younge as a model to paint Viola in Act III, Scene 4 after she and Sir Andrew have drawn swords (painting top-right). [1]

Viola (in orange, left) as Cesario; Olivia (in yellow, right). William Hamilton c. 1797 William Hamilton, A Scene from Twelfth Night.jpg
Viola (in orange, left) as Cesario; Olivia (in yellow, right). William Hamilton c. 1797

William Hamilton painted the confrontation between Olivia and Viola circa 1797: in Act V, Scene 1 Olivia believes Viola (dressed as Cesario) to be Sebastian (Viola's twin brother) who she has just married. After Viola denies any knowledge, incredulous Olivia asks the priest to confirm they were married just two hours prior. [2]

Walter Howell Deverell used model Elizabeth Siddal in his 1850 painting, showing Viola as Cesario looking longingly at Duke Orsino. [3]

Frederick Richard Pickersgill painting of Orsino and Viola, mid-1800s Orsino and viola Frederick Richard Pickersgill.jpg
Frederick Richard Pickersgill painting of Orsino and Viola, mid-1800s
Viola and the Countess (F. R. Pickersgill, 1859) Viola and the Countess - Frederick Richard Pickersgill.jpg
Viola and the Countess (F. R. Pickersgill, 1859)

In the mid-19th century Frederick Richard Pickersgill painted a few scenes, including: in Act 1, Scene 4 after the character Viola is shipwrecked, when she cross-dresses as Cesario, enters the service of Duke Orsino as his page and falls in love with him; and in Act 3, Scene 1 when Olivia declares her love for Cesario (1859 painting). [4]

Lucie Hoflich as Viola in a German version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in 1907 at the Deutsches Theater Bundesarchiv Bild 183-U0920-507, Lucie Hoflich.jpg
Lucie Höflich as Viola in a German version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in 1907 at the Deutsches Theater

In the 20th century German actress Lucie Höflich played Viola in Was ihr wollt (Twelfth Night in German) at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. [5]

Tallulah Bankhead played Viola in a 1937 radio broadcast of the play. [6]

Eddie Redmayne made his professional stage debut as Viola for Shakespeare's Globe at the Middle Temple Hall in 2002. [7]

In 2009, Anne Hathaway played Viola in the Shakespeare in the Park's production of "Twelfth Night" in New York's Central Park, directed by David Sullivan.

Film representations

Twelfth Night (1910) – Directed by Eugene Mullin – Viola: Florence Turner

Twelfth Night (1937) – Director N/A – Viola: Dorothy Black

Twelfth Night (1939) – Directed by Michel Saint Denis – Viola: Peggy Ashcroft

Twelfth Night (1957) [TV] – Directed by David Greene – Viola: Rosemary Harris

Twelfth Night (1957) – Directed by Caspar Wrede – Viola: Dilys Hamlett

Twelfth Night (1969) – Directed by John Sichel – Viola: Joan Plowright

Twelfth Night (1974) – Directed by David Giles – Viola: Janet Suzman

Twelfth Night (1980) [TV] – Directed by John Gorrie – Viola: Felicity Kendal

Twelfth Night (1987) – Directed by Neil Armfield – Viola: Gillian Jones

Twelfth Night or What You Will (1988) – Directed by Kenneth Branagh of the Royal Shakespeare Company/produced for television by Thames Television Ltd. – Viola: Frances Barber

Twelfth Night, or What You Will (1988)– Directed by Paul Kafno – Viola: Frances Barber

Twelfth Night (1992) – [Animated Tales] – Directed by Mariya Muat – Viola: Fiona Shaw

Twelfth Night (1996) – Directed by Trevor Nunn – Viola: Imogen Stubbs

Twelfth Night, or What You Will (1998) [TV] – Directed by Nicholas Hytner – Viola: Helen Hunt

Twelfth Night, or What You Will (2003) – Directed by Tim Supple – Viola: Parminder Nagra

She's the Man (2006) – Directed by Andy Fickman – Viola: Amanda Bynes (Inspired by Twelfth Night)

Related Research Articles

<i>Twelfth Night</i> play by William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night, or What You Will is a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written around 1601–1602 as a Twelfth Night's entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. The play centres on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola falls in love with Duke Orsino, who in turn is in love with Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man.

Sir Andrew Aguecheek character in Twelfth Night

Sir Andrew Aguecheek is a comic character in William Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night, or What You Will. One of the minor characters, Sir Andrew is a stereotypical fool, who is goaded into unwisely duelling with Cesario and who is slowly having his money pilfered by Sir Toby Belch. He is dim-witted, vain and clownish. His role in the play not only provides comedy through his pathetic situation and his long speech, but also by his distinct, long-faced appearance and garish dress sense. The role has been a favourite for noted actors such as Alec Guinness, Christopher Plummer, Paul Scofield and Roger Rees.

Sir Toby Belch character in Twelfth Night

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Feste character in Twelfth Night

Feste is a fool in the William Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night. He is attached to the household of the Countess Olivia. He has apparently been there for some time, as he was a "fool that the Lady Olivia's father took much delight in" (2.4). Although Olivia's father has died within the last year, it is possible that Feste approaches or has reached middle age, though he still has the wit to carry off good 'fooling' when he needs to, and the voice to sing lustily or plangently as the occasion demands. He is referred to by name only once during the play, in answer to an inquiry by Orsino of who sang a song that he heard the previous evening. Curio responds "Feste, the jester, my lord; a fool that the lady Olivia's father took much delight in. He is about the house" (2.4). Throughout the rest of the play, he is addressed only as "Fool," while in the stage directions he is mentioned as "Clown."

<i>Your Own Thing</i> musical

Your Own Thing is a rock-styled musical comedy loosely based on Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. It premiered off-Broadway in early 1968. The music and lyrics are by Hal Hester and Danny Apolinar with the book adaptation by Donald Driver, who also directed the original production. Dorothy Love was the show’s producer. The show was a success, running for 937 performances Off-Broadway and then touring and playing in London and Australia.

<i>Twelfth Night</i> (1996 film) 1996 film by Trevor Nunn

Twelfth Night is a 1996 British-American-Irish film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play, directed by Trevor Nunn and featuring an all-star cast. Set in the late 19th century, it was filmed on location in Cornwall, including scenes shot at Padstow and at Lanhydrock House near Bodmin, with Orsino and his followers wearing uniforms that evoke the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

<i>Twelfth Night</i> (1955 film) 1955 Soviet film by Yan Frid

Twelfth Night is a 1955 Soviet comedy film by Lenfilm based on Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night, or What You Will. The script was written by Yan Frid. The film was released in the Soviet Union on November 21, 1955, and in the United States on March 3, 1956.

Orsino (<i>Twelfth Night</i>) character in Twelfth Night

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Olivia (<i>Twelfth Night</i>) character in Twelfth Night

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<i>Illyria</i> (musical) musical

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Twelfth Night, or, What You Will is a videotaped 1988 television adaptation of Kenneth Branagh's stage production for the Renaissance Theatre Company of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night first broadcast in the UK by ITV on 30 December 1988. Made by Thames Television, in collaboration with Renaissance, it stars Frances Barber as Viola and Richard Briers as Malvolio. The recording was shot on a single set with the appearance of a wintry garden. The costumes are Victorian, and the time of year is Christmas.

Sebastian (<i>Twelfth Night</i>) character in Twelfth Night

Sebastian is one of the main characters from William Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night, believed to have been written around 1600 or 1601. It has been played by several famous actors, and even by actress Vivien Leigh in an acclaimed production directed by John Gielgud in 1955.

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References

  1. Shakespeare Illustrated, Emory University, 2003, retrieved 12 May 2009
  2. Shakespeare Illustrated, Emory University, 2003, retrieved 12 May 2009
  3. Walter Howell Deverell, Twelfth Night (1850), Emory University, 2003, archived from the original on 13 June 2010, retrieved 13 May 2009
  4. Frederick Richard Pickersgill, Viola and the Countess (1859), Emory University, 2003, retrieved 12 May 2009
  5. Bundesarchiv – Picture database: Picture archive (in German), retrieved 14 April 2009
  6. "Eddie Redmayne: The darling of the Donmar is making tracks into Hollywood". The Independent . 7 January 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2015.