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

Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents the two pairs of lovers in Much Ado About Nothing. Would we see them differently from the audience of Shakespeare's day?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents the two pairs of lovers in Much Ado About Nothing. Would we see them differently from the audience of Shakespeare's day? 'Much Ado About Nothing' would have been pronounced 'Much Ado About Noting' in Shakespeare's time. Noting would infer seeing how things appear on the surface as opposed to how things really are. This provides an immediate clue as to how the play and the presentation of the story of the two pairs of lovers would be received by an audience of the time, living as they did in a patriarchal society which was based on social conventions and appearances. It can also be taken as an initial comment by Shakespeare about that society and its values and moral codes. Modern audiences, however, live in a more sexually egalitarian society. Although appearances are still important, values are more dependent on self-analysis and self-knowledge. It is significant that the story of Hero and Claudio, the first of the pairs of lovers, is one that Elizabethan audiences would have probably been familiar with. Ariosto and also Spenser in the 'Faerie Queene' had presented this love story as a tale of chivalry and high morality. Therefore the audiences of the time would be familiar with the conventional characters of Claudio and Hero. Hero displays all the qualities the Elizabethan audience would have admired in a woman. She knows her place in society. ...read more.

Middle

The reaction of Claudio and Leonato seems excessively harsh, especially when they leave her for dead. Thus Shakespeare's presentation of the lovers may have less impact. Modern audiences may find it hard to believe in their relationship as anything more than short-lived lust. However, Hero also displays a certain firmness of mind when she says to Margaret on the subject of the wedding dress: "My cousin's a fool, and thou art another, I'll wear none but this". This shows us that she does have a mind of her own and with it she chooses to conform.. She also seems to understand why she must appear to have died in the church in order to have a successful relationship with Claudio after Don John's plot has been revealed. The accusation of dishonour had sullied her name whether or not she was guilty; a fact of the times. She therefore appears to see more clearly how society requires her to shed the slur of accusation totally in order to be accepted by all. Claudio, by contrast, still appears to be willing to make the 'blind' choice convention demands of him. He is willing to accept the masked maiden who happily turns out to be Hero. Again, Shakespearian audiences would be aware of the message that society is dependent on superficiality and that conventional relationships are therefore subject to grave difficulties. A modern day audience would be more likely to empathise and to direct their sympathies and admiration towards the characters of Benedick and Beatrice, ...read more.

Conclusion

She then replies, ''Yea, as sure as I have thought or a soul''. Benedick then prepares to act on this knowledge. Both characters' judgement depends on a deeper knowledge and understanding of the situation rather than an appraisal of appearances. At the time this play was written, this would have been unusual. Thus the way the two are persuaded to look at their own feelings for each other is the only method Shakespeare could have used to successfully fool these two quick thinking characters. They would not have blindly accepted what they were told like Claudio did confronted with Hero's 'deception'. This deeper form of understanding between two lovers would not occur in the normal course of events of the time, and the success of their relationship depends upon flouting conventions as discussed. In 'Much Ado About Nothing', one may argue that Shakespeare decided to have two sets of lovers to provide the audience with contrasting perspectives on similar situations. One may also argue that the two contrast between what was expected at the time against the unconventional. In both cases Shakespeare's presentation of the relationships between these two pairs of lovers implies criticism of his shallow society and its conventions. Perhaps he set the story in Italy as he may not have wished to upset his benefactors at home. Modern audiences may only perhaps gain an appreciation of this element in 'Much Ado About Nothing' as a study of Elizabethan society. Their empathy and interest may therefore be based to a greater degree in the characterisation of Benedick and Beatrice. 1,568 words. This is excluding quotations and the title! ...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. Compare and contrast the characters of Benedick and Claudio in

    It shows exactly how he feels towards women at this point of the play and how he says he "truly love none", which is referring to the fact that he doesn't love any women, not just Beatrice. Benedick learns throughout the play, that women aren't a sign a sign of

  2. Compare and contrast two characters from 'Much ado about nothing' as presented by Shakespeare.

    Here Shakespeare is using an extended metaphor to portray Beatrice's anti-matrimonial feelings. Of course, these feelings are not genuine. As we see throughout, disguise is one of the key themes in the play and Shakespeare makes it clear that Beatrice is disguising her true feelings, for she admits to Don

  1. Much Ado About Nothing - Elizabethan Women

    Benedick is quite convincing in the fact that he swears his oath on a lot of things- "I'll take my oath on it..." (2.3.23) "I will swear by it..." (4.1.271). Al though he feels that all women like him, Benedick does not want to be married.

  2. How does Shakespeare explore the nature of love in Much Ado About Nothing

    This again proves that Hero's and Claudio's love is more about looks than actual true feelings. In Act 4, 1, during the wedding day of Claudio and Hero, it is clear to the audience that Claudio is more concerned with his male honor and his image.

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

    Beatrice: I have twelvemonth been her bed fellow It is also in Beatrice's character to believe in her cousin innocence, and her defence for her is immediate. Beatrice: O, on my soul, my cousin is belined. Beatrice is so convinced that hero is wrongly accused of her crime that she also convinces Benedick of it as well.

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

    Evidence can also be gained from the fact that Hero makes an easy switch from believing she is marrying Don Pedro at the costume ball to getting betrothed to Claudio and setting the marriage for a "week" away. Similarities to Claudio can also be observed as he agrees to be

  1. How does Shakespeare present the relationships between Beatrice and Benedick and Hero and Claudio ...

    Claudio asks for the help of his good friend, Don Pedro to woo Hero at the party for him. A modern audience would interpret this as an act of shyness from Claudio and demonstrates his youth and immaturity. However, Shakespeare's use Claudio's characteristics contrast with the opinions of the Elizabethan audience and them of the modern day.

  2. Analysis of the themes of pairs and communication in "Much Ado About Nothing".

    All the arguments and encounters over the course of time give birth to a loving relationship that will be hard to break with a simple act of deception.

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