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Through comparing the relationship of Claudio and Hero with that of Beatrice and Benedick we understand how differences in experience, maturity and conformity can seriously affect a relationship

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Introduction

´╗┐BATTLE OF THE SEXES IN SHAKESPEARE?S ?MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING? It is fascinating that a dramatic narrative can create such a strong representation of a person through words alone, determining their social class, their gender, their relationships and even their intelligence. ??Much Ado About Nothing?? by the respected dramatist William Shakespeare explores the shallowness, the naivety and the innocence of human beings through the characters of Hero and Claudio, the two protagonists who dominate our generation today. However through the seemingly minor characters of Don John and Don Pedro, a contrasting analysis may be made of how someone?s actions can affect others and through comparing the relationship of Claudio and Hero with that of Beatrice and Benedick we understand how differences in experience, maturity and conformity can seriously affect a relationship. Count Claudio, the leading male in ??Much Ado About Nothing?? is an impulsive, handsome, young man, who initially gives us the impression that he will make the ideal husband. However we soon learn that in that traditional, militaristic ideology of feudal aristocracy, male comradeship is much more important than really loving a female. Claudio is insecure and wanting as a lover, forcing us to question whether underneath his flawless brilliance there really is the heroic soldier that we hear about in the opening scene. Leonato describes him as an honourable soldier: ?I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio? and we understand that this boy is some sort of patriotic symbol to the Messinian community, but we as an audience never see him fight or even show the bravery for which he is renown and for this reason we are compelled to believe that he really is just another naive adolescent in love with an idealistic idea of militarism. ...read more.

Middle

The idea of impurity before marriage was inconceivable for any respectable woman in the Elizabethan era and Hero?s innocence is poignantly captured as we see her view her wedding night with both fear and trepidation. Hero embodies the enormous pressure placed on the women of Messina to conform to the male ideal. In Elizabethan times, a woman like Hero submitted herself to her man and rarely retained a voice for herself, but Hero?s willingness to marry Claudio after he has disgraced her is problematic. Her fidelity to an unworthy man who vindicates himself in terms of the male code of honour is disappointing as she condemns herself to a life shared with an untrusting lover. She herself says ?And as surely as I live, I am a maid,? and true to her role as a conventional, romantic heroine, she is exemplary in her patience and forgiveness. The relationship that Hero has with Claudio is your typical ?Twilight? romance and markedly different to the one Beatrice shares with Benedick and it is through comparing these two young couples that we gain a deeper understanding of the battle that individuals have within the bounds of society to be themselves. Claudio and Hero?s relationship provides the spine of the play and presents the ideal of beauty, love, reconciliation and sexual attraction prevalent during Elizabethan times, a relationship that is no different to the typical high school relationships of today. Hero and Claudio seem to be at ease with indirect ways of communicating through their friends, just as today?s relationships communicate through means of cyberspace. ...read more.

Conclusion

Contrastingly, his brother, the bastard villain Don John, also orchestrates a deception, Hero?s denunciation, but here he is using power for nefarious purposes. Through the concept of static villainy, Don John is conveniently portrayed as the ?author of all? and thus becomes the scapegoat for a society looking to free themselves of the guilt and drama that ??Much Ado About Nothing?? personifies. By only blaming Don John, Claudio, the Prince, and Don Pedro are exonerated and Hero?s humiliation, which destroyed her reputation without hard proof of her infidelity, is blamed on Don John?s villainous deception. So in reality the whole purpose of Don John?s character is to have somebody to blame for everyone else?s mistakes, because nearly all the characters in ??Much Ado About Nothing?? play some role in the climatic rejection of Hero at the altar. In ??Much Ado About Nothing??, whether it be Claudio the misunderstood returned war romantic, Hero the innocent and wrongly accused wife-to-be, Beatrice and Benedick, the witty yet confused couple or Don Pedro and Don John, the conflicting brothers, Shakespeare has cleverly crafted these characters in such a way that we can relate them to our own lives and it is our identifying with these characters that allows us to fully understand their motives and reasoning. When this play is analysed it is obvious that in ??Much Ado About Nothing??, it is difficult to think beyond the aristocratic code of honour, complicated as it is by conflicting ideas of love and that if the battle between the sexes is ever to be resolved the key lies within each of us if only we are brave enough to love as individuals. ...read more.

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