What does Viola do with the ring that Olivia gives Cesario?

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The ring is a symbol of Olivia's infatuation with "Cesario," whom she does not know is really a woman, Viola , in disguise. Viola is initially a bit oblivious to Olivia's obvious affections, but when the ring is sent to her, she realizes what's going on. She tries to...

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The ring is a symbol of Olivia's infatuation with "Cesario," whom she does not know is really a woman, Viola, in disguise. Viola is initially a bit oblivious to Olivia's obvious affections, but when the ring is sent to her, she realizes what's going on. She tries to give the ring to Malvolio so he can deliver it to Olivia, but he angrily throws the ring aside. The sight of it on the ground makes Viola a little sad, since she knows Olivia is harboring a love for someone who does not even exist.

It is interesting to note that Viola's sympathy for Olivia might spring from her own unrequited (as of yet) love for Orsino. As long as she is pretending to be a boy, she knows she can never be with the duke in the way she wants. Viola understands unrequited passion most of any character in the play, with the exception of Antonio.

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Olivia has fallen head over heels in love with Cesario. Only it's not Cesario, it's actually Viola in disguise. Anyway, Olivia sends her unctuous steward Malvolio running after Viola, saying that "he" left behind a ring that Olivia had given to "him." Viola is puzzled; she knows of no such ring. But she plays along and pretends to know about it. She then asks Malvolio to return the ring to his mistress; but feeling like he's been sent on a fool's errand, he angrily throws the ring to the ground and storms off.

Viola realizes, much to her consternation, that the ring is a token of Olivia's affection for her, or rather Cesario. We don't know for sure what Viola does with the ring, but seeing it lying there in the ground where Malvolio left it makes her feel a twinge of sadness for Olivia, whose love for Cesario is destined to remain forever unrequited:

I am the man. If it be so, as ’tis, Poor lady, she were better love a dream. (act 2, scene 2).

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