Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night or What You Will is a classic story that focuses on the importance of identity. In the play the main character, Viola, or also known as Cesario uses two personalities to show that it is important to stay true to your identity. On the other hand the Duke and Olivia are unsure of their identity, and unlike Viola are not determined to do anything about it. In the first two acts of the play Shakespeare introduces the different identities while in the last three he focuses on each characters true identity. Through my first semester in college I have also learned a lot about my own identity through personal reflection as well as Zen Meditation.
Throughout the play Viola proves that she is determined and compassionate. When Viola learns of her brothers “death” she wastes no time and is motivated to work for the Duke and make a living for her self. She goes through extreme measures and disguises her self as a man. By becoming Cesario, Viola brings a new light to Illyria through her relationships with the Duke and Olivia. Viola becomes someone the Duke can confide in and truly be honest with. Because of Viola’s loyalty and respect for the Duke she agrees to woo Olivia for the Duke although she herself loves the Duke. Viola’s relationship with Olivia is also quite extraordinary. Shakespeare uses Viola’s character to emphasis that it is important to stay true to yourself regardless of the situation you are in. Although Viola switches identities she is the one character who is most true to herself.
Unlike Viola, Olivia and the Duke both have very fickle personalities. In the first scene, the Duke shows that he is very indecisive by first demanding to play the song and then all of a sudden demanding for it to stop. This shows that Duke is not only uncertain about little things like music but he is also unsure of his love for Olivia. Shakespeare shows that Duke is the one character who changes the most through the play, because he finally forms an everlasting bond with Viola, something he has never done before. Likewise Olivia shows that she can be swayed very easily. She starts off saying that she does not want to see anyone for the next seven years and would like to spend those years mourning; however when she meets Cesario she quickly changes her mind. We can learn from these two characters that it is imperative to be sure of your identity and to be confident.
As the semester has gone by I have had a lot of time to reflect on whom I am. During Zen mediation Dr. Davis encourages us to free our selves from all worries and just thinking about way we can improve ourselves. Twelfth Night or What You Will has also shown me that our identity is the one thing we have complete control over and we should take advantage of that. In addition to zen meditation, this class has really helped shape my first semester at Loyola. I particularly liked the transportation assignment because it required us to become familiar with our surroundings and be aware by using public transportation. It was interesting to see how all the works of literature not only relate to each other but also relate to the community around us.