Analyzing Viola

Character Analysis

Twelfth Night vs She's The Man

  • Identity
  • Gender
  • Perception
  • Similarities/ Differences

Identity

Twelfth Night Character (Viola/Cesario)

In Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" text, Viola disguises herself as Cesario after a shipwreck where she believed she lost everything. In order to get a job in Illyria, she needs to dress as a man and support herself, and get to Orsino. Viola knows she is capable and determined to get what she wants, and cant go back. Believing her brother being dead she has nothing to lose and now she is strong willed and intelligent to get Orsino. "Conceal me what I am, and be my aid. For such disguise as haply shall become. The form of my intent. I’ll serve this duke. Thou shall present me as an eunuch to him. It may be worth thy pains, for I can sing. And speak to him in many sorts of music. That will allow me very worth his service." (Act I, II).

She's The Man Character (Viola/Sebastian)

In the film I watched in class called "She's The Man", Viola is a character who disguises herself as her twin brother Sebastian. Viola's soccer team is cut so she pretends to be her brother so she can get on her brothers school's soccer team and beat her old school's team. Viola tries to prove a point that girls can play soccer like boys. Not only is this Viola determined to prove her old school wrong, but she knows she could be discovered at any moment because she immediately finds out she can hardly blend in (She's The Man). She is capable to finish what she started even if it is a very, very long shot.
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Gender

Twelfth Night (Viola/Cesario)

Gender in Twelfth night is definitely not hard to spot and discuss. For example "If the duke continue these favors towards you, Cesario, you are like to be much advanced. He hath known you but three days, and already you are no stranger." (Act I, III). Meaning Viola could not even approach Orsino as a female and had to be a male in order to get to be Orsino's servant. Viola has to disguise herself as a man just to survive and seemingly has no going back because she believes her only family has died.
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She's The Man (Viola/Sebastian)

The character Viola in the film "She's The Man" she is forced to act manly and as a guy shes expected to speak and think like one. Viola experiences her gender role switching, although even as a girl she is a tomboy, when she acts like her brother Sebastian she begins at square one in the world of typical guys. In the film Viola cares a lot about her soccer game that was before, a predominantly male game at her old school. The gender inequality there sends her to the new school to prove gender doesn't matter. Using her brothers identity to prove this.

Perception

Twelfth Night (Viola/Cesario)

In Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", Viola dressing as Orsino is perceived as lower class and deceptive. Although she tries to not stand out many recognize her fairly feminine features. "Dear lad, believe it. For they shall yet belie thy happy years. That say thou art a man. Diana’s lip. Is not more smooth and rubious. Thy small pipe. Is as the maiden’s organ, shrill and sound. And all is semblative a woman’s part." (Act II,III) Viola doesn't have a hard time being a male and becoming Duke Orsino's closest servant in a small amount of time. Because she is new to Illyria she is mysterious and without history, as Cesario.
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She's The Man (Viola/Sebastian)

Other characters think Viola dressed as Sebastian is awkward and strange. Sebastian stands out in the beginning and at one point even avoided. But with the help of her trusted friends she becomes popular in a good way. Viola gets help from her friend Paul to transform into her brother. In this film the character Orsino and his group of friends try avoiding Sebastian in a restaurant scene, after Sebastian's friend sends in girls to make Sebastian seem like he has many girlfriends and such, Sebastian instantly wins them over (She's The Man).
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Twelfth night (Viola/Cesario) and She's The Man (Viola/Sebastian)

Similarities

Between both, they similarly disguise themselves to achieve what they want and get help from a friend, turning female to male. Also, both Viola's are extremely courageous, brave, and strongly determined even when the obstacles deify everything that every other character in each story has ever heard of or seen. Another similarity is that both Viola's begin with nothing and thinking they have just about nothing to lose. Finally, both Viola's are involved with a Duke Orsino Character eventually dating and even marrying them.
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Differences

In Shakespeare's text, Viola sneaks into a country, for "She's The Man" Viola is just going to a new school, and the viola from the film rather than the text was not planning on falling in love with Duke Orsino. She's The Man, Viola played soccer because it was her passion especially after the inequality she experienced at her older school. Shakespeare's Viola however had intention of surviving and focused of getting Orsino to fall for her, not gender equality. Lastly, both Viola characters handled, acting like a man, much differently. Where one rose to high ranks with orsino, and one struggled and had to work much more to prove themselves.
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