Much Ado About Nothing Practice Essay

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Much Ado About Nothing – Practice Essay
Through the female characters in the play, Shakespeare is able to showcase different
stereotypes through the characters of Beatrice, Hero and Margaret. These all represent the
patriarchal society evident throughout the play. Beatrice’s witty and strong personality is
contrasting to both Hero’s and a standard Elizabethan woman’s. Hero’s pure and innocent
character symbolises her easily controlled nature, questioning the patriarchal views of men
during Elizabethan times. Both high class females are compared with Margaret’s lower class
freedom and sexual innuendos, shifting the views of women completely. Shakespeare
carefully molds each character to fit their personality, all which deify stereotypes and
patriarchal views.
Beatrice is portrayed by Shakespeare as a strong, independent woman who challenges
stereotypical Elizabethan women. This is seen in Act 1 Scene 1, when Beatrice and Benedick
meet each other after Benedick returns from war through Beatrice’s intelligent banter with
Benedick. The metaphor ‘a bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours’ illustrates
Beatrice’s comparison of her being a bird and Benedick being a beast. This shows her quickwitted nature as well as her defiant personality, contrary to Elizabethan women. Beatrice’s
defiancy rebellious character is also shown through her dislike towards marriage. The
hyperbole ‘I had rather here my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me’ in Act 1
Scene 1 shows Beatrice’s strong dislike towards marriage intense hatred towards the
conventional ideals of marriage, something that was considered unacceptable during
Elizabethan times. Despite Beatrice’s tough exterior, her tender and vulnerable side is
revealed in her soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 1. When Beatrice hears that Benedick is in love with
her, she professes that ‘if thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee’. By showing her love
to Benedick, Beatrice unveils a side to her which is highly contradictory to her strong,
defiant personality. Beatrice’s representation is one that non-conforms to women of the
Elizabethan era.
Shakespeare however characterises Hero as a young and naïve girl, who is very similar to a
standard Elizabethan woman. In Act 3 Scene 4, Hero’s purity is captured through ‘God give
me joy to wear it, for my heart is exceeding heavy’. The use of metaphor denotes Hero’s
happiness and joy to be wed. However, the figurative metaphor ‘my heart is exceeding
heavy’ foreshadows the ill – fate of her wedding, an event which Hero is unprepared for.
Hero’s innocence also allows her to be easily controlled and manipulated. This is shown
through the quote ‘Leonato’s Hero, your [Claudio’s] Hero, every man’s Hero’ in Act 3 Scene
4. The repetition of Hero’s name after a man’s name signifies how she will always belong to
a man, similar to women during the Elizabethan period. As well as ‘belonging to a man’,
Hero is also objectified by men and this is also due to her quiet and easy nature. This and
this is conveyed through Claudio’s expression of anger towards her in Act 4 Scene 1. ‘This
rich and precious gift’ is metaphoric of how Hero is objectified and can be ‘handed over’ and
‘taken back’ with no regard to Hero’s emotions. Shakespeare’s representation of Hero is one
who is very quiet and chaste, similar to a woman of the Elizabethan era.
Due to Margaret being of the lower class, Shakespeare develops her character full of bawdy
jokes as well as freedom. Margaret’s sexual implications is seen in Act 3 Scene 4, when she
prepares Hero for her wedding. The sexual innuendo ‘Twill be heavier soon by the weight of
a man’ is said by Margaret and implies that Hero would be consummating her marriage that
night. Margaret’s freedom as a lower class is also shown in this quote as Margaret casually
says the innuendo without any thought, something which would not have been done by a
woman of a higher class. Being of a lower class enables Margaret of less strict rules, in
comparison to characters such as Hero. Despite being linked to both Borachio and Don John,
Margaret is not shamed upon which is seen in Act 5 Scene 4. In Leonato’s monologue, he
says ‘But Margaret was in some fault for this, although against her will, as it appears in the
true course of all the question’. The quote shows how Leonato gives no regard to
Margaret’s actions despite a contrasting reaction to Hero’s assumed relationship with
another man. Through the character of Margaret, Shakespeare is able to convey the idea of
lower class women and their freedom and jokey nature.
(INSERT IN INTRODUCTION) Through the female characters in the play, Shakespeare is able
to showcase different personalities stereotypes through the characters of Beatrice, Hero
and Margaret. These all represent the patriarchal society evident throughout the play.
Beatrice’s witty and strong personality is contrasting to both Hero’s and a standard
Elizabethan woman’s. Hero’s pure and innocent character symbolises her easily controlled
nature, questioning the patriarchal views of men during Elizabethan times. Both high class
females are compared with Margaret’s lower class freedom and sexual innuendos, shifting
the views of women completely. Shakespeare carefully molds each character to fit their
personality, all which deify stereotypes and patriarchal views.
In Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing, the representation of women defies
stereotypes of Elizabethan women, through the diverse portrayal of his female characters.
This is shown through the characters Beatrice, Hero and Margaret. With Beatrice’s witty and
self-confident personality in comparison to Hero’s quiet and chaste nature along with
Margaret’s sexual puns, Shakespeare demonstrates the various women in their own
significant way.
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