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Love and Transgression - Shakespeare Assessment
Who's Who in Twelfth Night


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Who's Who in Twelfth Night


1.      Viola

A noble woman from another country who arrives in Illyria because of a shipwreck.  She decides to serve the Count Orsino as a boy, "Cesario".  Orsino has this Cesario off to charm Olivia.  Cesario does too good a job, and Olivia falls in love with Cesario.


2.      Sebastian

This is the twin brother of Viola, who is also on the ship that is wrecked.  He stays with a criminal called Antonio.  That is, until he walks along the street and is mistaken for "Cesario" by Olivia.  Olivia asks him to marry her, which Sebastian does.


3.      Orsino

This is the Duke of Illyria.  He thinks he loves more than any woman, and is constantly talking about love.  He loves Olivia, who cant stand him.  He sends his servant Cesario to charm Olivia.  When "Cesario" is revealed to be Viola, he falls in love with her and marries her.


4.      Olivia

A rich countess whose brother has just died.  She has a cousin, Toby, a maid, Maria and a butler, Malvolio.  She also has two men seeking to marry her Orsino and Sir Andrew Aguecheek.  She cant stand either of them and falls in love with Orsino's servant, "Cesario". 


5.      Sir Toby Belch

A rude cousin of Olivia, he just likes to spend his days and nights drinking and enjoying himself.  He has found a rich man to pay for his drinks, Sir Andrew Aguecheek.  He is also in love with Maria, the maid in Olivia's house.  Malvolio, the butler, doesnt want Toby staying at the house and tells him that.  Toby is insulted and arranges with Maria and Feste to trick Malvolio and humiliate him.  She ends up marrying Maria.


6.      Sir Andrew Aguecheek

A rich heir who was born with money but without sense.  He is always puzzled about what is happening around him, and despite an expensive education doesn't understand much at all.  This is why Sir Toby uses him.  Andrew wants to marry a rich woman, and Olivia would be perfect.  So, Toby uses this in order to have Andrew stay and pay for the drinking sessions.  He is encouraged to fight Cesario, because he is a rival for Olivia.  Needless to say, both fighters aren't keen to fight.


7.      Maria

The maid to Olivia, who loves Sir Toby, despite his flaws.  Malvolio is her boss, and is happy to bring him down to size when Toby wants it.  She marries Toby.


8.      Malvolio

The butler (senior servant) of Olivia.  He loves Olivia, and dreams of marrying her, just like the yeoman of the wardrobe married the Lady of the Strachy (2, 5).  He also dislikes Toby and Maria.  He looks down on them, just like many people looked down on the humour in Shakespeare's plays.  After the humiliation of reading a letter by Olivia and drooling all over his boss, Malvolio is imprisoned and teased by Feste and Toby.  This scene is done either as light hearted (isn't it funny to put him down) or as nasty (the punishment is worse than the crime). 


9.      Feste

Traditionally, the clown figure is the foolish member of any court / society.  In Shakespeare, however, the fool is often the most intelligent one.  Twelfth Night is no exception.  While most of the characters are cross dressing, falling in love or fighting, Feste is in the background, watching and being wise. 

Eg.   He plays while Toby is being rude to Malvolio.

        He is singing while Cesario is trying to tell Orsino about her secret.

       He is the main tormentor of Malvolio.

       He is the most difficult character to analyse.