She states simply that no matter how suitable he is for her, she wants to stick to the romantic notions of love and says simply, “I cannot love him”  Dramatic irony is continually featured specifically in this scene, the audience are capable of knowing the immediate circumstances of the story more than the actual characters within it; we are able to see a discrepancy between character’s perceptions and the reality they face. Viola and Olivia’s beliefs become ironic since they are different from the reality of their immediate situation, and their intentions are likewise different from their actions.
This not only creates tension between the characters, but between the audience and the characters who wait in suspense for the truth to be revealed. Olivia combats her issues of class difference, while Viola attempts to control her jealously of Orsino’s love demoting Olivia’s womanhood. After introductions they become very personal, and Olivia asks, “what are you what would you? “ in a very impersonal manner, to which Viola ironically replies, “What I am, and what I would, are as secret as maidenhood.
” This has an overt meaning as well as an ostensible one. “Viola intends to examine her rival more closely but is drawn into an increasingly intimate exchange that grows out of the secret of their shared maidenhood” her maidenhood is oblivious to Olivia, who only sees the surface truth. Viola moreover is left in the dark about Olivia’s character, “I see what you are”, thinking she is seeing the real Olivia, however blinded by her jealousy, fails to notice the humility and honesty of Olivia’s tone.
Refusing to believe that Olivia could be as good of a suit as herself for the Duke, is only visible to the audience. The initial formalities carried out by servant and Lady is lost, as they continue their conversation in a more familiar manner. Olivia is entangled in Cesario’s romantic vision of how he would love her if he were the Duke and ironically Viola is wishing that she was also the object of such passion from the Duke.
Olivia is so used to the passive images that the Duke leaves her to imagine in his speeches, that she is overwhelmed when this attractive youth is romantically preaching about the “willow cabin”  and love that is beyond “the elements of air and earth”116,264, she is captivated by the romantic image Cesario creates. Viola’s objective was not to attract Olivia for herself though this is clear through Olivia saying very enthusiastically, “You might do much” , a turning point in the scene. The audience is aware that this is in fact what she has succeeded in achieving, yet Viola does not yet see.
“What is your parentage? ”  asks Olivia, keen to know Cesario’s social status and background, as we also know in addition to not loving Orsino she does not wish to marry above her station. On finding Cesario is in fact a gentleman she is keen to pursue him inviting him back “unless perchance you come to me again/to tell me how he takes it”. On departure Viola turns down the money that Olivia tries to give her, reinstating her original noble status claiming “my master, not myself, lacks recompense.
“ Olivia’s repetition of “above my fortunes” discloses her contemplation of Cesario as a potential husband furthermore “even so quickly may one catch the plague”  she is surprised herself and the speed of her infatuation and paralleling love to the plague implies the overt threat of the plague of love throughout the play, moreover echoing Act 1 scene 1 showing the grave reality of her situation. Olivia herself is aware of the irony of her situation perusing Cesario however this is where her age comes into consideration.
Olivia could either be a mature lady of gracious manor, or a young girl forgetting to be discreet for her eagerness  Expressing interest in Cesario for first time, these broken lines are what Viola later refers to as Olivia speaking in starts distractedly  she now too is very aware of the grave yet comical situation. Olivia declares that she had found Viola attractive, “Methinks I feel the youths perfections. ”  Acting on this, and going against her seven years of not seeing another man, she sends for Malvolio to take a ring to Viola so that he may return with it.
Some disguises are deceptive and some deceptions are disguised, Feste at the beginning of the scene calls Olivia is a ‘fool’ redirecting our attention to her rash vow and other speeches of his which obscurely foreshadow its abandonment and her marriage. “As there is no true cuckold but calamity… jove cram with brains”  Love is an irresistible passion, whether it be Orsino’s for Olivia or Viola’s for Orisno, or Olivia’s for the disguised Viola all are fundamental to the play. Shakespeare challenges gender roles and the conventions of romance in his use of disguise however Viola does not conform.
The sea captain never returns with her “maiden weeds” . In refusing to readmit a feminine Viola at the conclusion, the play seems hesitant to renounce the social and sexual inversions, moreover there is no real resolution for Malvolio who threatens revenge “on the whole pack of you! “