• 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...


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.


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.


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)

    Once I had read to the end of Act 2 Scene 1 I had realised that Shakespeare presents his characters Beatrice and Benedick in crowds of people every time they have a quarrel because this then shows the relationships between the two and how much they have to make one remark better then the other.

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

    Beatrice is clearly frustrated by the double standards of men and the way they treat women and the restraints there governing has on her. This is shown by Beatrice's loyalty to Hero, she wishes that she could eat Claudio's heart in a public place for the grief that he has caused Hero.

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

    After Benedick tells her he loves her, she asks him to 'Kill Claudio' this shows us she's being quite sly and clever as she is a woman and is incapable of killing Claudio. She is very manipulative as then she says 'O God that I were a man!'

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

    When Benedick and Beatrice fall in love with each other they exhibit the traditional Elizabethan symptoms of falling in love. The Elizabethans believed that when somebody fell in love they would become melancholy. Another symptom is feeling ill and when Benedick meets with Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonato he tells them, "I have the tooth-ache."

  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 represent love in 'Much Ado About Nothing'?

    Here, Don John tells Claudio and Don Pedro that Hero has been unfaithful. Claudio has no proof yet of this accusation and Don John is well known for his evil ways but he is still willing to put Hero to shame without considering what she has to say.

  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 - Elizabethan Women

    Before then, women could become nuns and look forward to a rewarding life in Abbeys, perhaps be a Mother Superior one day. But with the Reformation, the convents were closed. Wealthy women, heiresses of property, could look forward to being mistress of their estates and wield the power in the

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