• 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 Present Relationships Between men and women in much ado about nothing

    3 star(s)

    is when Claudio finally speaks but once he had finished Beatrice once again had to say, "speak, cousin - or, if you cannot , stop his mouth with a kiss, and let not him speak neither. In this play Shakespeare doesn't only show relationships which turn into love but he also includes relationships between friends.

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

    This is a very effective image as in Shakespeare's day, boys used to take eggs from birds nests and take out yolk to preserve the egg. This compares exactly to how Claudio feels about Hero. When the friends are trying to set Beatrice and Benedick up and the men are

  1. Much Ado About Nothing - Elizabethan Women

    An infidelious wife was not tolerated. Henry the Eighth made infidelity in a Queen treason because it could threaten the succession. In fact, a wife who was proved to be unfaithful could be executed if the King granted her husband's permission to put her to death.

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

    Benedick is, because he is wearing a mask, when she does really. Benedick is unaware that she knows that the man behind the mask is him, and he acts as if he doesn't know who Benedick is. Beatrice then decides to talk of Benedick in a derogatory manner, and because

  1. How far does Shakespeare challenge Elizabethan society's ideas about gender in Much Ado about ...

    Hero's name represents faithful love so when Claudio accuses her of cheating she is distraught and does not understand how he could be so mistaken; she exclaims "Oh God defend me, how I am beset!" This shows that when she agreed to marry him she was perfectly contented with the

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

    Shakespeare also mirrors Benedick's soliloquy in Beatrice's deception as she admits she "will requite" Benedick. As part of a contemporary audience, I feel that the deception of two individuals to fall in love seems unrealistic and old fashioned although Shakespearean audience's may have understood this better due to the fact

  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