Olivia: A character Sketch.
Olivia is the second best character of Twelfth Night, a romantic comedy by Shakespeare. Her character is more complex than that of Viola. She is very sentimental. She is self-willed in her conduct, and conventional in her character. She is the paragon of beauty. She is an august lady of free and serious mind. She is like a princess of romance.
Olivia is woman of unusual beauty. It is that beauty which makes the Duke crazy and love-sick. Viola too is deeply impressed by her physical appearance. When she walks heaven walks on earth. Malvolio and Sebastian are also impressed by her physical beauty. When Viola meets her for the first time she bursts out spontaneously:
‘Tis Beauty truly blent, whose red and white
Nature’s own sweet and cunning hand laid on.
Olivia is a dignified lady and commands respect from one and all. She lives a life of virtue and self-restraint. She does not surrender before Duke. She loves Cesario (Viola) deeply but to maintain her dignity she does not express it. She is willing to sacrifice everything except her honour to win the love of Cesario.
Olivia is wealthy, beautiful and dignified. In spite of all these things she is a lady of soft and delicate heart. She knows the art of getting love and respect from those around her. She knows how to behave with the inferiors. She knows well how to keep them under control without suppressing them. She has great affection for all her dependents and kinsmen.