Viola: A Character Sketch

Viola is the most vital character of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a romantic comedy. She is the heroine of this play. In the play she appears late but the entire play revolves round her. She is Shakespeare’s idol of perfect love. In sweet feminine attributes, Viola is most charming character in the world of Shakespeare.

Viola’s appearance is charming. Her beauty makes her wildly sweet. People are amazed and stunned to see her. Wherever she goes she wins the heart with her ravishing and enchanting beauty. She is beautiful physically as well as mentally. That’s why almost all the characters admire her personal charms and dashing beauty.

 When Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, sees her for the first time in disguise, he exclaims:

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.

Viola wins Olivia’s heart by her beauty. Olivia is intoxicated by amorous feelings for her. She admires:

Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions and spirit,

Do give thee five-fold blazon.

It is only her feminine virtues that make her the greatest character of this play. She is perfect example of womanhood. Her heart is full of feminine sympathy and generosity. She performs her duty honestly. She goes again and again to Olivia and very earnestly and sincerely tries to enkindle love in her heart.

Viola’s character reflects her modesty. It is a precious jewel of her character. She disguises herself to protect herself from the world’s uncivil comments. We know that she has a great love for the Duke but due to her modesty she never expressed it.

Viola’s love is an embodiment of purity, piety, tenderness and profoundness. There is a spirit of self sacrifice in it. Her love is a treasure that she keeps hidden in her heart. It is based on constancy and devotion. She likes to smile even in grief. As an ideal sister, she has deep love for her brother, Sebastian. She is not sentimental in her love like Orsino or Olivia. She maintains patience. She hopes to discover her brother. In short, her love is marked with balance and depth.

Viola is very practical in her life. She has strong will power and she is the mistress of her will. She quickly picks her up from the misfortunes of shipwreck. She takes no time in making future plans for her. Within three days she wins the Duke’s favour by her sweetness and devotion. She plays the role of a boy so nicely. She knows well how to grab success. She is a keen observer of life and world. That’s why she is never deceived. Her radiant hope and sweet temperament make her an excellent character.

Thus Viola is a lovable character. In the play she is appreciated by all. She knows her duty well and follows it strictly suppressing all her personal feelings and emotions. That’s why a scholar exclaimes, ‘….Rosalind is woman, Viola is a poem.”

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