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Does this extract reflect Shakespeare's presentation of women in the play, and what is your response to this presentation 400 years later?

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Introduction

AS English Literature Coursework Much Ado About Nothing Antonio: Well, niece, I trust you'll be ruled by your father. Beatrice: Yes faith, it is my cousin's duty to make curtsy, and say, father as it please you. Does this extract reflect Shakespeare's presentation of women in the play, and what is your response to this presentation 400 years later? The presentation of women in the play is varied. Shakespeare has produced two very different presentations of women. One being Beatrice, the assertive, outspoken, almost masculine female and the other being Hero, the 'modest young lady' who does whatever she is asked. Beatrice has no mother or father in her life and therefore lacks a sense of duty. She doesn't have a father to control her and tell her what to do, which is a major contrast to Hero. Beatrice is perceived in the play as a threat to the masculine world. She engages in verbal battles with Benedick and openly criticises men, which goes against Elizabethan ideals. In that society, people would have disapproved of this and she would be perceived as lacking modesty, a great virtue of the time. ...read more.

Middle

After the terrible accusation thrown at Hero, Beatrice wants to challenge Claudio. Benedick is not suitable for revenge but Beatrice rejects him physically until he does what she wants him to do. Kill Claudio. She is very dominant and, in a sense, controls Benedick. She is clever in how she talks to Benedick. She is very demanding and takes advantage of his love for her. Enough, I am engaged; I will challenge him. I will kiss your hand, and so I leave you. Beatrice criticises Benedick and the other men for being too verbal in their challenges with one another. But manhood is melted into curtsies valour into compliment and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too. Beatrice seems to have 'tamed' Benedick rather than the other way around. Usually in a relationship of those times, the men took control of the women. However, Beatrice seems to lose her sharpness and wittiness after the accusation of Hero. Margaret, on the other hand, has become more like Beatrice. Ever since you left it. Doth not my wit become me rarely? ...read more.

Conclusion

Her 'arranged marriage' was quite different to that of Beatrice and Benedick, who had known each other and wanted to get married. Elizabethans would think of this as being quite radical and most probably disapprove of. Today, this is seen as 'normal'. Shakespeare has many conventional women in his plays and Beatrice breaks that mould of being a traditional woman in society. He presents women in a positive light. Shakespeare does reinforce this representation in the play in the character of Hero and how Beatrice changes. He is challenging this conventional role of women; for example, Beatrice controls Benedick in the relationship. In that sort of patriarchal society, the women would usually conform eventually. Beatrice has this strong, intelligent, witty and sharp character that slowly just fades away towards the end. I think Shakespeare has used this contrast of Hero and Beatrice for comical purposes to show that there were women like Beatrice. In Shakespeare's England, courtship was not the prolonged and romantic affair it is now. The young folks did not make and unmake engagements as they pleased, without consulting their parents. The etiquette of betrothal was almost as formal and rigid as that of marriage is today. Today, women are more like Beatrice the 'normal' female, independent and sociable. ...read more.

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