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Discuss Shakespeare’s Presentation of Men in Much Ado About Nothing

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Introduction

Discuss Shakespeare's Presentation of Men in Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare presents the men in many different ways and as the play unveils itself his portrayal of them changes. At the time of writing the play, men were considered to be the jokers, soldiers and respected people of the era and we see these characteristics portrayed in characters such as, Claudio, Benedick and Leonato. There was a definite hierarchy where the men were ranked and their mistresses or wives were ranked by the ranking of their father or husband. The men had the power to do everything and it all rested on their ranking in society which rested on their wealth. Shakespeare portrays the men as loyal to their friends but only to their own close friendship groups rather than to their lesser friends. We see a change in the characters as the play unfolds which shows us another side of their character. This different perspective of the characters takes time to come through due to the complexity of the men. Benedick is very versatile as we find out later on in the play, due to the way that by the end of the play Shakespeare has portrayed his character inside out. At first although we are given to understand that, "He hath done good service" in the wars, but shortly after his arrival we see his comical side emerge, "You always end with a jade's trick." Beatrice and Benedick jest with each other and the undertones are usually to do with how they can, "love none." ...read more.

Middle

(105) This is due to the difference in their ages, with Claudio being the younger, so it is right that he shows respect. Shakespeare uses these two characters to show the hierarchy in men depends on age also. Claudio didn't stop at offending Hero as she is a young women but no one felt sure enough of themselves to insult Leonato directly, "Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?" he moans.(105) Leonato looks for support against the raging Claudio by going to the well respected bachelor Prince, Don Pedro, "Sweet Prince, why speak not you?" (103) This shows that Leonato wanted the marriage to go ahead with Claudio but that he couldn't understand his sudden change of heart. He is looking to the Prince to stop Claudio because he obviously believes that he has some control over Claudio that he hasn't got. This could be paralleled to a child asking a teacher to get his toy back from a bigger boy because he assumes that the bigger child will listen to the teacher more than he would to him. Don Pedro is a bit like Claudio's big brother in the sense that Claudio looks up to him and admires him. There is a mutual respect for each other, probably due to the feats that Don Pedro has done and, the promise that Don Pedro can see in Claudio. We know that Don Pedro is a good fighter because we hear of his great victory at the start of the play, "A victory is twice itself, when the achiever brings home full numbers." ...read more.

Conclusion

(17) He feels that he must stay true to his feelings if they are true, because he feels that, "God forbid my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be otherwise." (13) He does not want to offend the powerful Leonato who we know has, "Ability in means, and choice of friends." (111) We can see that Leonato's money makes him powerful but also his friends. Shakespeare is trying to show that allegiance is important and that men make money but money is men. In general all of the men have similar traits depending on their rank in society and their age. I can predict that Claudio will be a wise old man similar to Leonato in rank, when he gets to his age because Don Pedro thinks that "He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age," (3) already, which shows that he has abundant potential. We can see from Shakespeare's portrayal of Benedick and Don Pedro that it would be ideal for them both to have wives as with all men. There are also difference in the way the two men go about this fact, Benedick pretends that he doesn't want a wife and Don Pedro doesn't mention it very much. The main characteristics in the men that Shakespeare portrays are, wit, kindness, affection and allegiance. In the men in general Shakespeare shows that there is a hierarchy and using Don John that there are good men and bad men with the good men in control, as they have the power to forgive as Don John has been, "Reconciled to the Prince." (9) ?? ?? ?? ?? Luke Roberts 12SS 1 ...read more.

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