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

"Far from endorsing a conventional idea of the battle of the sexes, Much Ado About Nothing is a powerful plea for dignity and equality in the public and private relationships of men and women".

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"Far from endorsing a conventional idea of the battle of the sexes, Much Ado About Nothing is a powerful plea for dignity and equality in the public and private relationships of men and women". In 'Much Ado About Nothing' Shakespeare subtly argues against the Elizabethan stereotype of women being inferior to men and asks that women's dignity or *"state of being worthy of respect" is equal to that of men. He has done this by creating both the witty, scintillating character of Beatrice whose shrewdness surpasses most of the male characters and also the tranquil, virtuous character of Hero who remains loyal towards Claudio despite his and Don Pedro's unjust accusations. For an Elizabethan audience, the idea of a woman like Beatrice publicly making insulting, profane jokes like calling Benedick, "Signior Mountanto1" would have been very forward thinking and relatively shocking despite England having a female monarch who was reputed for her wit. To lessen the shock and indignity that this lead character might create, Shakespeare created the role of Benedick who is nearly able to equal Beatrice's shrewd repertoire. The two characters are very similar; they are both "scorners" of love who end up falling for each other, which were stock characters of comedy. They compliment each other with their "war" of wits and hide their emotions behind their sarcasms and disagreements. ...read more.

Middle

Leonato loses his dignity with the audience because of his quick acceptance of Claudio's story and melodramatic response; only a few moments after hearing the story, he claims to be so ashamed that he asks to die, "Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?4" This is utterly ridiculous to the point where the audience think that he just wants people to notice him in all the excitement. He loses even more of the audience's respect when he tells Claudio to wed his brother's daughter, who is "Almost the copy" of Hero; he has moved on so quickly from sorrow for his daughter that there is little he can do to redeem himself. What is the most ironic thing about the way Shakespeare has written this play is that Hero manages to uphold her dignity throughout the entire play, and is polite and respectful all the way through as a typical Elizabethan women was expected to be, for example when Claudio accuses Hero to her face of being promiscuous "betwixt twelve and one," she merely replies politely, "I talk'd with no man at that hour, my lord.5" Even when Claudio and Don John accuse her of having an affair and her father is the first to accept the story as the truth she is still courteous and dutiful towards them. ...read more.

Conclusion

He had to subtly imply his message through his writing and then hope that people no matter how intelligent would be able to think about and come to a decision. Shakespeare appealed for women to have equal amounts of dignity in both a private relationship but also for public figures like the queen to be treated like an equal by men even though she was far superior to any man in Britain. Perhaps the fact that the reigning monarch was a strong feminist woman who had already shown that she was any mans equal just by ruling for the length of time which she did. If England had been ruled by a male chauvinist would Shakespeare have written such equal minded and ahead of his time plays? 'Much Ado About Nothing' stands strongly as a witty, perceptive play which goes conclusively against the conventional ideas of a battle of the sexes and tries to educate the public to give women equal dignity and respect whether they be the queen, a wife or peasant. 1 Act I, Scene I, line28 2 Act IV, Scene I, lines 59-60 3 Cuckold - man married to an adulterous wife 4 Act IV, Scene I, line 109 5 Act IV, Scene I, line 86 6 Sir. H. Walpole - Letters. 1776 7 T. Campbell - "Dramatic Works of Shakespeare. 1838 ...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 challenge the conventional role of women within the patriarchal society of ...

    5 star(s)

    she "would rather hear her dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves her". Her demanding personality comes out when she tells Benedick to "Kill Claudio" for Hero's sake. The words "kill Claudio" can provoke laughter and tension from the audience as it was not common for a woman to give orders.

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

    talking loudly so that Benedick can hear Don Pedro says, "in despite of his quick wit, and his queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice". This is quite a humorous line because his friends know that Benedick does put on pretence that he will never love nor marry

  1. Much Ado About Nothing - Elizabethan Women

    A wife who killed her husband was guilty of petty treason instead of murder; unfortunately, this offence was punishable by burning. Tudor society did not have many avenues open to single women and the avenues were even less following the Reformation.

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

    Benedick is disguised and doesn't wish to reveal his identity, he cannot complain about the remarks Beatrice is making or defend himself, as he doesn't know who Benedick is. This shows that Benedick is trying to disguise himself, but the mask that he is wearing does not fool Beatrice.

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

    Beatrice and Benedick really do seem to unite as a couple when the crisis of Hero's denunciation occurs. Whilst his friends' leave, Benedick stays loyal to Beatrice leaving both modern and Shakespearean audience's to wonder whether or not this illustrates a confirmation of his love for Beatrice.

  2. How does Shakespeare dramatically present power and authority in the relationship between men and ...

    The male character who has the lesser rank in that patriarchal society, Benedict, seems to do best where love and valid judgment are concerned. Men are shown as fallible and prone to mistakes where love is concerned, where the suffering character of Hero is used as a reproach for this weakness in male characters.

  1. How in "Much Ado About Nothing" does Shakespeare create dramatic tension?

    between the curiosity of Beatrice and Benedick and their reactions to comments from the tricksters would create humour for the audience dramatically, something that is much needed to alleviate the tension from the previous scenes in which we hear of Don Pedro's second plot.

  2. A battle of the sexes- Much Ado About Nothing

    Hero survives a misogynistic plot to defame her, ?the princes left for dead, let her awhile be secretly kept it.? When the plot succeeds and Claudio is convinced that Hero is ?unclean?, due to the chauvinistic society, Leonato is forced to support Claudio in leaving Hero.

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