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

Analyse Act Four, Scene One of Much Ado About Nothing to show how Shakespeare explores relationships between men and women and contemporary expectations of virginity, love and marriage.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Analyse Act Four, Scene One of Much Ado About Nothing to show how Shakespeare explores relationships between men and women and contemporary expectations of virginity, love and marriage. The play "Much Ado About Nothing" incorporates love, villainy, friendship, parent-child relationships, society and customs and relationships between men and women. Men dominated Elizabethan society and this play explores a wide range of men's attitudes to the place of women in society. At the beginning of Act four, Scene one, we immediately become aware that Leonato is displaying slight anxiety over the wedding ceremony and it seems he wants to fast track the procedure to get it out of the way. At this point in the play, the audience know more than Leonato. Previously, Dogberry, the constable of Messina, had tried to inform Leonato of how Hero would be humiliated publicly at the wedding. However, Leonato is so preoccupied, he never receives this information and so is completely unaware of what is going to take place. As the scene begins, Friar Francis asks Claudio "You come hither, my lord, to marry this Lady?" Claudio's response is a simple no. Leonato becomes unsettled by the Friar's disconcerting manner. He says hastily "To be married to her: friar, you come to marry her." This is an example of Leonato's anxious behaviour. ...read more.

Middle

When lashing out at Hero, Leonato continuously uses the word "mine". It is all completely personal now and Leonato no longer cares for Hero, instead he cares solely for himself. The wedding ceremony is one of the main scenes in the play, which demonstrates that Messina, at that time, was a very patriarchal society. The characters in the play belong to a stylised, highly conventional world in which the mundane needs of everyday life fade into the background. No one has to earn a living, the wars are over and all may devote themselves to revelry. In such a world as this, demure daughters find their husbands in accordance with their rank and fortune and their marriage was arranged by their parents. In his play, Hero belongs to this world. A woman was legal property and was rarely expected to think for herself. And in Shakespeare's time, a woman's honour was based upon her virginity and chaste behaviour. For a woman to lose her honour by having sexual relations before marriage meant that she would lose all social standing, a disaster from which she could never recover. Moreover, this loss of honour would poison the woman's whole family. Consequently, when Leonato rashly believes Claudio's shaming of Hero at the wedding ceremony, he tries to alienate her entirely. ...read more.

Conclusion

Benedick says "Come, bid me do anything for thee." Beatrice replies with "Kill Claudio" These words are monosyllabic and the harsh alliteration is powerful and creates a big impact on the audience. She asks this as a way for Benedick to prove his love for her. Her demand essentially forces Benedick to choose between the brotherly love of men and the loyalty of a man to a woman. Beatrice's request is completely irrational and Benedick refuses. As a result, Beatrice erupts into a tirade of words and bitterness for her wronged cousin until Benedick says that he will challenge Claudio. Surprisingly, it seems Beatrice plays the more dominant role in this scene and talks with a man's licence. Although Much Ado About Nothing is set in Messina, Shakespeare is really exploring sixteenth century England and men's attitudes at this time. Hero is a stereotype in this play and Beatrice, who speaks her mind is seen as unusual. Throughout the play Shakespeare emphasises the superiority of men and the fact that a woman's future relied purely on her social status. He also conveys how virginity is imperative when it comes to marriage. Today, although virginity is less important when it comes to marriage and people marry for love, men and women are still not seen as equal. Even today men hold most senior positions and in eastern societies, many women still live in a highly male-dominated world. Alex Scaman ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Much Ado About Nothing essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    How does Shakespeare Present Relationships Between men and women in much ado about nothing

    3 star(s)

    By doing this it shows people how they don't really like to have personal arguments as they wouldn't get the reaction of there remark towards each other from the rest of the characters. In addition, it means that Beatrice and Benedick have an audience for what they have to say.

  2. Much Ado About Nothing clearly shows the attitude of the Elizabethans towards women and ...

    Much Ado About Nothing also clearly illustrates the Elizabethan fear for men that they will be cuckolds. For men they wanted to produce a male heir who will carry on the family and inherit the wealth. This quotation is an example of the men talking about being a cuckold and

  1. In much ado about nothing act 4 scene 1, is the most dramatically significance ...

    from when she's speaking to Benedick because she's not allowed to be this way, and Benedick says 'I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?' She feels the same but is not vulnerable to this.

  2. Compare the characters of Hero and Beatrice, as they are presented by language and ...

    Benedick: Think you in your soul the Co8unt Claudio hath wronged Hero? Beatrice: Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul Benedick: Enough I am engaged... Benedick believes Beatrice about Hero because of his love for her and I think it's also because he also believes that it is not in Hero's character to do it either.

  1. Much ado about nothing - Attitudes to love and marriage.

    Jealousy and love are a major part in Hero and Claudio's relationship, we can see this in numerous parts of the play and with this idea of sexual intercourse before marriage we can get ideas on how Elizabethans handled virginity.

  2. Much Ado About Nothing - the relationships between men and women.

    The quote below shows what Hero and Ursula say. Hero and her maid have approached Beatrice's hiding place, aware that she is there, to make sure she is able to hear what is being said. Ursula But are you sure that Benedick loves Beatrice so dearly?

  1. How does Shakespeare present attitudes to love and marriage at the beginning of the ...

    sweet virginal. When it doesn't matter if the man isn't. It is also Claudio who chooses Hero and so he expects her to be in love with him. Here we also see that Benedick is angry with Claudio for being in love.

  2. How Does Shakespeare present the relationship between men and women in his play 'Much ...

    Shakespeare also mirrors Benedick's soliloquy in Beatrice's deception as she admits she "will requite" Benedick. As part of a contemporary audience, I feel that the deception of two individuals to fall in love seems unrealistic and old fashioned although Shakespearean audience's may have understood this better due to the fact

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