One example of confusion in this play is Viola’s secret identity. She wanted to change her image to a male in order to have the ability to work for the Duke. The Captain helps her by making this possible. Begging the Captain for help she says: I prithee, and I’ll pay thee bounteously, Conceal me what I am, and be my acid For such disguise as haply shall become
The form of my intent. (I.ii.54-57).
The Captain agrees to help Viola create the disguise. He dresses Viola as a man and she becomes Cesario. As Cesario, Viola goes to the Duke for work and he is completely fooled. The Duke’s inability to recognize Viola shows how identity can easily deceive people. The Duke requests Cesario to woo Olivia in order to flourish his love for her. Cesario’s plan to charm Olivia makes her fall in love with Viola’s disguise instead of the Duke. Furthermore, Viola’s identity creates another conflict when Olivia develops feelings for Cesario. Olivia hints towards her feelings by saying: Get you to your lord; I cannot love him. Let him send no more,
Unless, perchance, you come to me again,
To tell me how he takes it. Fare you well;
I thank you for your pains; spend this for me. (I.v.259-263).
This quote demonstrates the formation of Olivia’s feelings for Cesario. Olivia refuses the Duke because she is still in morning for the loss of her brother and does not believe in the strength of the Duke’s love for her; Although, Cesario’s charm and knowledge of women stands out to Olivia. Instead of falling for the Duke, Olivia falls in love with Cesario. William Shakespeare developed the theme of betrayal to create conflict in this play. Viola’s change in identity becomes the biggest betrayal throughout Twelfth Night. She is acting as someone else so the Duke does not get to see who she really is. The Duke and Olivia have already been lied to and this is only the beginning.
In addition to Viola, Malvolio also changes his identity. Although this time not for work but for love. He believes he is in love with Olivia and has faith that she loves him too. He finds a letter in the garden, which is placed by the servants to fool him. The letter is from Olivia, who asks him to show her his love by wearing yellow stockings, cross-garters, behave strangely and rude to the servants and Sir Toby, and to smile all the time. Malvolio discards his arrogant attitude and follows these orders. He speaks to Sir Toby as Olivia requested, “I extend my hand to him thus, quenching my familiar smile with an austere regard of control” (II.v.59-60). This statement to Sir Toby is evidence that Malvolio followed every one of Olivia’s orders to show her that he loves her in return. Later Malvolio is sent to see Olivia but not for the reason he thinks. He quotes the letter she sent him but Olivia has no idea what he speaks of and she leaves him lonely and confused. As well as changing his image for a woman he also experiences betrayal towards himself. Malvolio believes he might have gone mad and is locked…