• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"Much Ado About Nothing"

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"Much Ado About Nothing" AS English Literature Coursework * Extract from Act 2 Scene 1 * Line Antonio: Well, niece I trust you'll be ruled 43 by your father. 44 Beatrice: Yes faith, it is my cousin's duty to make 45 curtsy, and say, father as it please you. 46 Does this extract reflect Shakespeare's presentation of women in the play, and what is your response to this presentation 400 years later? Shakespeare's presentation of the main female characters in "Much Ado About Nothing" is insightfully conveyed in Act 2, scene 1. "Well niece, I trust you'll be ruled by your father". The dominant nature of the male characters in the play is expressed with reference to being "ruled", which suggests the oppression of women in Elizabethan society. In the context of the quotation, this implication of patriarchy is in regards to the act of marriage. However, deeper meaning may be established in assuming this ascendancy in terms of all aspects of an Elizabethan woman's life. To a modern audience, such patriarchy would seem irrational and unacceptable. However, the context in terms of time period to which this play was written must be considered. With reference to the use of the word "father", it may be construed that father figures determined the decisions of Elizabethan women until marriage. ...read more.

Middle

Act 3, Scene 1 portrays Hero exclusively in the company of women, no longer restrained in a modest manner, revealing dominating and opinionated characteristics in herself which were previously unseen. Hero's more outspoken character when in the company of women is not reflected in the extract Act 2, Scene1. This leads to the suggestion of an additional facet to her personality revealed only in the presence of other women. Perhaps Beatrice's absence in this scene is further justification of Hero's newfound confidence. Rather than obeying others, Hero is seen to be making commands, while her waiting ladies follow her every instruction. The portrayal of female characters in the extract of Act 2 Scene 1, lines 43-46,upholds the patriarchal mindset of the Renaissance's society. Through Hero's silence, she is established as a compliant saint, whereas her talkative cousin is typecast as the wild shrew. Unlike the complex personality of Beatrice, all that is admirable about Hero is embodied entirely in her modesty which proves to be her Achilles Heel, as any tarnishing of it destroys her entire character. This is made apparent at the climax of the play, when she is accused of having an impure relationship with a man- a sin of great dishonour warranting severe punishment in Elizabethan times. As more of Hero's personality flaws are revealed, she becomes more disliked by a modern reader. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mirroring Hero and Beatrice, Margaret and Ursula represent two women of similar social class who behave in very different manners. "To one method of characterization Shakespeare seemed to have been especially partial; it is that of providing his major characters with contrasting opposites or foils designed to set them off." (http://sites.micro-link.net/zekscrab/Muchado.html#Much%20Ado) Unlike Ursula, Margaret frequently acts against convention: "Not so neither: but know that I have tonight wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero's gentlewoman, by the name of Hero. She leans me out at her mistress' chamber-window, bids me a thousand times goodnight- I tell this tale vilely- I should first tell thee how the prince, Claudio, and my master planted and placed and possessed by my master- Don John, saw afar off in the orchard this amiable encounter." Through this extract the gullibility and ignorance of the character of Margaret is highlighted. Borachio's speech indicates that Margaret is easily seduced and deceived by him. Although any suspicions of such unchaste conduct would be dealt with extremely if applied to of Beatrice or Hero, Margaret would not have been received as badly, due to lower expectations in the Elizabethan period for women of the lower classes. Margaret's promiscuity can be contrasted with the reaction to the slander of Hero. Hero had to "die" in order to surpass the shame associated her reputation, whereas Margaret's promiscuity is casually overlooked by characters. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Much Ado About Nothing section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Much Ado About Nothing essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    In "Much Ado about Nothing", Shakespeare presents us with a conventional and unconventional heroine ...

    5 star(s)

    (a falconry allusion). Unlike Hero, Beatrice is not portrayed as the gift of a father to a husband. Instead, we are very aware of a woman determined to be in charge of her own destiny, disdainful of the tradition of romantic love: "I would rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me".

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Claudio-'a man of honour betrayed'?

    3 star(s)

    He doesn't talk about Hero with passion, whereas Benedick uses poetry and sonnets to show and represent his love towards Beatrice. There is irony in the play when it comes to the denunciation of Hero, where Claudio speaks with passion to Hero for the first time, out of hatred.

  1. Discuss in detail Shakespeare's presentation of women in Much Ado About Nothing

    messenger who is saying "he hath done good service, lady, in these wars." It can be interpreted, however, that Beatrice is perhaps trying too hard to convince the other characters of how much she dislikes Benedick, suggesting her stubborn and cruel nature is all just an act, Shakespeare uses Beatrice's

  2. Shakespeare's presentation of Beatrice in Much ado about nothing

    Marriage is generally regarded as a conforming act in the Messina society, Beatrice's refusal to marry shows her non conformity to the traditions. Language and structure are incidentally linked in the play, i.e. Shakespeare presents Beatrice's language in the early acts pre her involvement with Benedick, as harsh and independent.

  1. How Is The Theme Of Deception Apparent in Much AdoAbout Nothing

    of self-deception; during a conversation with Conrade he claims that he is a 'plain-dealing villain' which in itself is an oxymoron and furthermore seems a direct contradiction to his actions in which he is very far from 'plain-dealing', instead he deals in conspiracy, deceit and betrayal.

  2. Shakespeare employs a wide range of literary techniques to define the characters of Beatrice ...

    This further reveals to the audience Benedick's assumption that life as a bachelor would be far preferable to life as a husband. The pun also reveals that Benedick's desire to remain a bachelor stems from to his inability to trust a woman.

  1. To what extent does the portrayal of women in Much Ado About Nothing subvert ...

    Moreover, deception and mistaken identity, features typical of comedy, allow Beatrice to subvert the status quo even further when she has the upper hand on Benedick, at the masked ball. The humour present is in the dramatic irony that Benedick is unaware that she knows who he is; he feels

  2. Explore how Much Ado About Nothing uses the comic genre to allow Shakespeare to ...

    Baring this in mind, a contemporary audience would be more sympathetic with Claudio?s rash decision as they would share a better understanding of Claudio?s fear of shame. On the other hand, a modern audience would not be as sympathetic because social norms and values, especially gender inequality, has changed.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work