To what extent is this interpretation supported by Act 1?
Watching the first scene of ‘Twelfth Night’, it seems quite obvious that Viola, shipwrecked with nothing, resourcefully survives and flourishes under Count Orsino’s court, successfully using her brilliant wit and intellect to maintain the disguise that she has adopts. Yet does this resourcefulness undermine the extent to which we feel sympathy for her and is there another character to which we should feel more sympathy towards? Does she hide her emotion from us in order to preserve her capability or is it truly cold-heartedness?
Viola shows herself as resourceful in taking the seemingly absurd measure of disguising herself as a man to survive. Her decision to disguise herself, setting up the whole plot of the play, is a ploy to obtain some control over the situation; ‘the form of my intent’ suggests that Viola is keeping a level, resourceful head in the situation and is carefully planning out her goals she wishes to achieve in disguising herself. The heroine of the play shows resourcefulness of language and a composed nature within her interactions with capricious characters such as Olivia; she uses controlled iambic pentameter and poetic phrases such as ‘tis beauty blent’ in a improvised speech, showing quick-wittedness and resourcefulness but also demonstrating that Viola has command through the use of verse over her emotions whereas Olivia, who even though is a high status figure, speaks loosely and melodramatically in prose. Viola consistently demonstrates her adept use of her wit and intelligence and uses it to her advantage in the early stages of the play. ‘Oft close in pollution’ (line 49) suggests that her intelligence gives her an understanding that appearances can be toxically deceptive but her resourcefulness allows her to use the knowledge of disguises to fashion a plan for survival. Ironically, Viola chooses the