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mbjohnse eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Viola is a smart and resourceful character. As a young woman shipwrecked alone, she successfully disguises herself as a man, and quickly enters the service of Duke Orsino. This shows her ability to imitate others, move comfortably in social situations, and problem-solve on the fly. Very few people could so easily resolve their problems in this way. Orsino quickly comes to trust her so much that he entrusts her to be his messenger to his beloved Olivia. She has only arrived and already she is in the inner circle. Viola performs this duty well, playing her role as Cesario so convincingly that Olivia falls in love with her. Then, later in the play, when Olivia mistakenly marries her twin brother, she is socially skilled enough to reveal her identity in a way that does not confuse or offend the other characters too deeply. She marries Orsino, whom she loves. Through the course of the play, a young woman shipwrecks alone in a strange place and is resourceful enough to turn this bad situation into a marriage with a Duke she loves. That shows a huge amount of intelligence and resourcefulness on her part.

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Twelfth Night

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