What is the role of Viola’s disguise in Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

In William Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night”, Viola’s disguise plays an important role. Although a lady, Viola disguises herself as a gentleman to protect her youth and maidenhood in Illyria. This disguise helps her to get the job of a page at the court of the noble duke, Orsino. But when she visits Olivia as Cesario, with the duke’s message of love, a highly dramatic situation arises. The lady, Olivia, falls in love with her, sends a diamond ring to her, and later confesses her love openly. Her disguise brings trouble. Once, while she is leaving Olivia, a rejected suitor of Olivia challenges her to a duel. However, a stranger, Antonio, mistaking her for Sebastian, saves her. Antonio also brings the charge of ingratitude against her. Viola faces a terrible problem when Olivia claims Cesario to be her husband and the duke warns her not to come in his sight again. Once again, it is because of her disguise she could not express her love for the duke. Towards the end when Sebastian comes face to face with Viola in presence of all, her true identity gets revealed. Thus, Viola’s disguise is a dramatic device that creates complications and many interesting situations in ‘Twelfth Night’.