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An Exploration of the Theme of Love inMuch Ado About Nothing The Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing is considered to be a play about deception

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Introduction

Katy Fullilove An Exploration of the Theme of Love in Much Ado About Nothing The Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing is considered to be a play about deception. However, love in its various forms is intertwined with this and is one of the central themes. Throughout the course of this essay I will explore how Shakespeare has presented the different forms of love to his audience. Shakespeare took his inspiration for the main love theme of the play from many sources. The basic story is an ancient one; a lover from the couple is betrayed by an enemy into believing that his loved one is false. In Much Ado About Nothing, these two lovers are represented by Claudio and Hero, and the love which Shakespeare presents between them is meant to be romantic love or love at first sight; in my opinion, this is simply lust. There is no evidence in the play to suggest that Claudio's motivation for marriage is actually real love, the love of Hero's personality. He 'loves' her for what she is, not who she is; she fits Elizabethan society's ideal of the perfect woman. Claudio describes her as 'modest' (Act one, Scene one, line 147), meaning chaste, an essential quality of an unmarried woman in the Elizabethan era, and in lines 167-168 of Act one, Scene one says: '...she is the sweetest lady that ever / I looked on.' He makes no comment on her character, but this would have been seen as normal in Elizabethan times; women were expected to be seen but not heard, and Shakespeare presents Hero as the conventional woman of her day. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare presents Leonato's love as dependant on Hero's perfection and submission. In stark contrast to Hero, Beatrice is anything but submissive. She is introduced to the audience in the first scene of the play and she dominates the conversation, interrupting the messenger and totally bewildering him with her witty wordplay, as in line 47, where the messenger comments on Benedick: 'And a good soldier too, lady.' Beatrice replies, 'And a good soldier to a lady. But what is he to a lord?' This is an example of the form of pun where a word is repeated to possess a different meaning. In Elizabethan times, it was extremely unusual and socially unacceptable for a woman to be so forthright as to interrupt a male conversation; Beatrice is non-conformist as opposed to Hero who represents society's ideal, and an Elizabethan audience might have found her quite shocking. She is also independent and assertive, unlike Hero who is submissive and controlled by the men around her. These two women create a contrast, as do the two men from the pairs of lovers, Claudio and Benedick. Claudio is presented as the traditional romantic lover, and when Benedick falls in love with Beatrice he tries to be. In Act five, Scene two he makes a humorous attempt at rhyming and fails miserably: (line 35) 'I can find out no rhyme to 'lady' but 'baby' - / an innocent rhyme; for 'scorn', 'horn' - a hard rhyme; for / 'school', 'fool' - a babbling rhyme; very ominous endings.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Although he eventually gives in to her, his first reply is: 'Ha, not for the wide world.' For a moment the love that Benedick has for Claudio is stronger than his true love for Beatrice. There is a great deal of banter between the three men but none of it is taken to heart; this is further evidence that the men know each other well. An example of this can be seen in act one, scene one where the three characters are discussing Hero. Their teasing of each other is good-natured, as is the conspiracy between Claudio and Don Pedro behind Benedick's back. In conclusion, I think that Shakespeare's presentation of love in the play reflects his beliefs and also society's stereotypes. The fact that Beatrice and Benedick's love is presented to be more attractive to the audience than Claudio and Hero's could portray Shakespeare's own opinion; true love between two independent personalities for their own contentment is far superior to the empty, superficial love emphasised between the two insubstantial characters of Claudio and Hero. His portrayal of love also reflects the expectations of Elizabethan society, in that women were expected to be passive and submissive, and be chaste and pure before marriage, and everyone was expected to marry. Even Benedick and Beatrice are made to obey convention in the end. I wonder though, why Shakespeare makes Beatrice conform? Perhaps it is because he knew that, realistically, she would never have been accepted in society and he wanted the play to resemble to reality, or maybe he is simply reacting to the conventions of his time. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

The essay writer follows the "love" theme of the discussion very effectively, with close reference to the text. There are a few cases where conclusions are drawn without adequate support, especially early in the essay. The best analysis is shown where the essay writer is comparing/contrasting the evidence of the love shown by the main characters, including asexual love expressed for companions of the same sex (as in Benedict for Claudio, Beatrice for Hero).

Paragraph and sentence construction are well controlled and lexis is fully up to the task.

4 stars.

Marked by teacher Jeff Taylor 13/08/2013

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