• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the similarities and differences between Olivia and Viola in "Twelfth Night".

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Lisa Bishop Discuss the similarities and differences between Olivia and Viola in "Twelfth Night". Although Olivia and Viola possess a number of qualities which are not just different, but in complete opposition with one another other, they do in fact have a great deal in common. The names Shakespeare has given the two characters is perhaps a reflection of this; the words "Olivia" and "Viola" consist of almost exactly the same letters, yet are clearly arranged to form two different names. Firstly, and most obviously, their statuses in the play are very similar: they are both women, of approximately the same age, and have recently lost their brother. They are also, despite their individual flaws, both "good" people and possess many positive personality traits. However, although some of these positive traits are present in both Olivia and Viola, there are many that are unique to each and in order for these to be identified, careful attention needs to be paid to their thoughts and actions throughout the play. ...read more.

Middle

It is these qualities that enable Viola to gain Orsino's special confidence and that cause Olivia to all in love with her. Her conversations with Orsino and Olivia show that she is a straightforward and honest character in spite of the deception she is forced to enact for her own survival; she loyally continues to thy to win Olivia's love for Orsino, even though she loves him herself and she treats Olivia with dignity when she confesses her love for her (as Cesario). Such capacity for deep feeling is something which is most prominent throughout the play, in particular in Act 2, Scene 4, in which she tells Orsino a story, which begins, "My father had a daughter lov'd a man..." Olivia, however, possesses a number of altogether characteristics. Our first encounter with her is certainly less favourable than that of Viola. Having made an extravagant vow to mourn her brother for seven years, we soon witness her breaking her promise, and thus her capability of self-deception. ...read more.

Conclusion

sympathise, and when Malvolio claims, "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you", her compassionate nature causes her to respond, "He hath been most notoriously abused." So then, to conclude, Shakespeare undoubtedly intended the audience to draw some parallels and recognise a number of similarities between the characters Viola and Olivia, which is suggested by the similarity of their names, their situation and their link with Orsino. However, this does not mean to say they are necessarily similar in character - as illustrated above they are clearly not. Viola is, amongst many things, practical, sensible, sympathetic and very much in control. In complete contrast, Olivia is emotional, sentimental and changeable. However, this does not mean to say that one character is better or worse than the other - though throughout the play Shakespeare makes it very clear that they posses different traits, ultimately they are "good" people, and this "finished product" is a great deal more important than the route taken by each in order to achieve this. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Twelfth Night section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Twelfth Night essays

  1. Examine the Levels of Deception in Twelfth Night Twelfth Night is a play ...

    Olivia is also seeking only to please herself by remaining in mourning. Feste demonstrates that she really has nothing to feel miserable about: "The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brothers soul, being in heaven." Yet Olivia continues to mourn, while it suits her, and when a better alternative presents itself, she stops.

  2. Discuss the use of disguise and deception in Twelfth Night and its contribution to ...

    Antonio, for example, regrets the 'devotion' that Sebastian inspired in him (Act three, scene four). Ironically though, he is mistaken but his comments on the nature of virtue are relevant to the play as a whole, 'Virtue is beauty but the beauteous evil are empty trunks o'er-flourished by the devil' (Act three, scene four).

  1. What exactly is the purpose of Feste in 'Twelfth Night'?

    Feste however, uses his status and ability as a branded fool to become the play's commentator. During the play, Feste becomes almost the voice of a narrator and the insight for the audience. He explains the actions and activities going on around him.

  2. Examine the ways in which Shakespeare creates comedy for the audience in Act 3 ...

    One such situation arises in Act 3 Scene 4 when Malvolio refers to the handwriting in the letter he received by stating "I think we do know the sweet Roman hand." Olivia meets this statement with utter confusion, as she knows nothing of the letter; yet the audience know exactly

  1. Examine the Levels of Deception in Twelfth Night

    Feste, despite the act that he puts on, is obviously not a fool. Others who are not what they appear to be include Olivia who is not as sincere in her mourning as she would seem, and Sir Toby and Sir Andrew who are certainly not as staid and responsible as their elevated rank might indicate.

  2. how Shakespeare uses disguise to suit his comic purpose

    To be a good Courtier you have to have certain standards and Sir Andrew lies about having these standards, so therefore is a liar. By the end of the play everyone in the play and the audience realises Sir Andrew is not the perfect Elizabethan Courtier and is in fact

  1. Twelfth Night Act1 Scene 1 analysis

    This shows that he is an understanding and helpful character. In Scene 2 the Captain uses persuasive language when Viola is upset and unsure of what to do next; he also gives her suggestions about what she could do.

  2. Realtionship between Viola and Olivia

    she is in love with Cesario, and is quite astounded that it has happened so quickly. She describes it as a plague, creeping silently and capturing her off guard, making her fall sickeningly in love: 'How now? Even so quickly may one catch the plague?'.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work