Studying Viola

by Emily Ebong

Viola's Identity

In the play "Twelfth Night", Viola is independent. Viola knows that she will not last long without her brother, Sebastian, beside her. She decided to act as a man and become her own provider. "Oh, that I served that lady and might not be delivered to the world, Till I had made mine own occasions mellow, What my estate is" (I.ii.38-40). In this quote, Viola is telling the captain how she wishes she could work because it would be a great way to hide her identity until the time was right. With the help of the captain, she dressed up as Cesario, and got a job working for Duke Orsino. She is consistent because not once did she break character, or revealed her true identity until the end.

In the movie She's the Man, Viola is both determined and passionate. She is passionate for the game soccer. Even after the girls soccer team was cut at her school, she did not stop. Not only did she change schools to play, she dresses up as a guy to play on the boy's team (She's the Man). She did not do this only for herself. She knew that she could prove everyone wrong when people assume that girls are not as strong or athletic as girls.

Viola's Gender

In the play "Twelfth Night", females have limitations. We know this because Viola had to dress up as a male to do something that is done in everyday life. In Twelfth Night, Viola had to dress up as a man, Cesario, to get a job working for Orsino. "I prithee-and I'll pay thee bounteously- conceal me what I am, and be my aid For such disguise as haply shall become the form of my intent" (I.ii.48). In this quote, Viola is begging the captain to help her conceal her identity and in exchange she would pay him plenty. At the time, women did not work. They were expected to stay at home and take care of the house and/or kids.

In the movie She's the Man, females had low expectations. To some, girls were not equal to guys especially when it comes to athletics. The girls soccer team for Cornwall high school was cancelled because there were not enough girls to continue. Because of this, Viola decided to join the boys team. Viola was told by Cornwall's boys soccer coach that girls are not strong enough or fast enough to beat guys. She then dresses up as her brother, Sebastian, and joins the soccer team for the opposing school, Illyria (She's the Man).

Viola's Perception

Some may view Viola as deceiving. Not only did she lie about her gender, She lied about her identity for the benefit of herself. Since she was already so identical to her brother, she decided to dress up as him. "How have you made division of yourself? An apple, cleft in two, is not more twin than these two creatures. Which is Sebastian? (V.i.213-215). In this quote, Antonio elaborates on just how identical Viola as a man and her brother, Sebastian, look. He compares them to two halves of the same apple. Others, specifically Duke Orsino, see her as determined and loyal. On top of that, he sees her as a beautiful young woman. "Your master quits you, and for your service done him, so much against the mettle of your sex, so far beneath your soft and tender breeding, and since you called me "master" for so long, here is my hand. You shall from this time be your master's mistress" (V.i.309-315). This is where Duke Orsino tells Viola that she has been so loyal and did far more than any women is expected to and because of that she no longer has to call him "master" but can be the master's mistress.

In She's the Man, Viola is sort of seen as a liar from Duke Orsino. Duke first knew Viola as Sebastian, a fellow soccer teammate and roommate. Later in the movie, he met Viola at a carnival. Not only did the Duke and Viola introduce themselves, but they made out at the kissing booth and Duke Orsino had feelings for her ever since. Duke was not the happiest once he realized that the night he opened up to Sebastian about his true feelings, he was really opening up to Viola. (She's the Man). Also, in the movie, Viola may be seen as sneaky to Monique, which is Sebastian's ex girlfriend. From the beginning of the movie to the end, Monique and Viola never really got along well. They even got into a fight once in the bathroom. Monique knew that Viola did not really like her as a person, let alone her sister's girlfriend. As Sebastian, Viola broke up with Monique more than once, and it was not a small break up. Once Monique found out it was actually Viola dressed as Sebastian, it all made sense to her. This is different from how Viola sees herself. It has to do with what is being done and who is being affected. When Viola broke up with Monique as Sebastian, this affected Monique in a negative way. Even before then, they had a bad history. Monique did not know why she acted as Sebastian; nor does she know how it feels to feel so passionate about a sport that you would go out of your way. On the other hand, Viola does not know how it affects Monique.


In the play "Twelfth Night", Viola and I had more differences than similarities. I know that the life Viola lived could never be mine because the times are very different. Besides that, I have never even been on a boat across the sea and I don't plan on in. Because of this, the chances of me getting lost at sea are very low. Also, once she got to Illyria, she changed her identity to Cesario. I would not be bold enough to do that. Besides all the of the differences, Viola and I do have some similarities. In some situations, I would have made the same situations as her. For one, when Sir Toby instigated a fight between Sir Andrew and Viola, Viola refused. I would have done the same. Also, Viola is a very loyal servant to Duke Orsino and she gets the job done. I also do the same when I have a job of certain task.

In the movie She's the Man, Viola and I are the same, but at the same time we are two completely different people. Viola and I both have the same passion for the sport we play. The amount of love she has for soccer is the same amount I have for volleyball. One particular way we different, is in acting. She is plays the role of a man for the majority of the movie She's the Man. She sticks to her character and she plays it off well. I don't believe I could pull that off. Not because of my looks, but because I would either be too nervous, I would be laughing too much, or I would feel like I have to tell someone.