Viola is an opportunistic and clever young woman, who doesn’t allow her brother’s presumed death to get in the way of ensuring her own safety. She knows she’s unprotected in enemy territory, so she adopts his disguise and pretends to be him, to earn safety and protection at court. She would rather serve Olivia, but knows she cannot get close to her, so she becomes useful to Orsino instead. She goes so far as to woo Olivia on his behalf, even though she is in love with him herself, and analyzes the situation enough (and Olivia’s behaviors, with sending her the ring and interpreting her body language around her) to believe accurately that Olivia has fallen in love with her disguise (which later allows her to marry Sebastian, under the mistaken belief they are one and the same). She does whatever the situation demands of her, without complaint, including binding her breast, adopting a disguise, charming Olivia on her master’s behalf, and even agreeing to a duel to keep up the ruse. She’s forthcoming with her feelings, but never allows them to get out of hand. Viola shows a sense of knowing what she wants on an emotional level, when she decides she is going to marry Orsino, and makes that her ambition in life. She is good at talking her way in and out of trouble, and accurately getting a read on what other people are feeling, but also finds it absurd that Orsino is in love with a woman he barely knows. She finds it easy to get close to him, but doesn’t think ahead about what her disguise might demand from her, or how she can maintain it for the long term, or what it might mean later on (what if she’s exposed? Or has to pee in front of someone?).

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Viola is no fool. When she washes up on a foreign shore, she immediately knows she’s in danger from her enemies, and adopts a disguise to protect her from harm. She easily makes people like and trust her, by being approachable and friendly, but is also cautious about revealing too much. She doesn’t like to take risks, but also is clever, quick to think up solutions, and analytical. Viola was outgoing and popular on board ship, often up to shenanigans with her brother, but also dependent on him for protection and friendship. They entertained everyone together by performing theatrical productions and using intentional humor as part of their skits. She can be serious, but also playful and light-hearted. Viola can easily see the comedic side of her situation and isn’t above making a mockery of it.