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How does Shakespeare challenge the conventional role of women within the patriarchal society of Much Ado About Nothing.

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare challenge the conventional role of women within the patriarchal society of 'Much Ado About Nothing'. 'Much Ado About Nothing' is set in a patriarchal society in the late 16th century. In a patriarchal society, men are the dominating sex and women are the oppressed ones. The title of the play also plays a part in showing how things are overly based on sexual relationships between men and women. The play takes place over a course of three days. As so much happens during these three days, the events take place rapidly and can create confusion and misunderstanding. 'Much Ado About Nothing' is a play of wit, deception and slander. It is full of darkness just as much as it is full of light. For Beatrice, a pre-occupation with death arises from her entrapment within a court whose practices she does not admire. She constantly tries to oppose the views of her society with which she doesn't agree. The treatment of gender issues in 'Much Ado About Nothing' would have been central to its impact on Elizabethan audiences. Women, stereotypically, were expected to be silent, gentle, passive and submissive. Independent women were regarded with suspicion and interest. In the first three scenes, the male characters continually criticise the females. ...read more.

Middle

She gladly and willingly submits to marriage, and she accepts the role of the relatively powerless woman. In gathering what we know about her, we discover that she is a kind "modest young lady" who falls in love with Claudio on their first encounter. It makes us question whether she is actually in love with Claudio or she is just her eagerness to be married off. Claudio refers to her as a "jewel". We get the idea therefore that she is a beautiful girl and that she is viewed as a possession, like all women were in the patriarchal society. Her belief in love seems to overshadow her personality. When Hero's is accused of being unchaste by Claudio, Leonato seems to question Hero's chastity too. This shows how a few words can change the love of a family and reverse the thought of another person. Leonato's quickness to doubt his daughter Hero is a sign of how little faith the men had in women in patriarchal societies. Hero still marries Claudio even after he disgraces her, even though he was prepared to marry her cousin. This shows her desperation for marriage and probably her lack of belief in what she is worth, but it could also just be that Hero is a forgiving and patient person. ...read more.

Conclusion

Beatrice gives her heart to Benedick in Act 3 scene 1 telling him to "love on; I will recite thee, taming my wild heart to thy loving hand", she refers to herself as if she were an animal and her 'wild heart' needed taming. Claudio and Don Pedro also compare Benedick to a wild animal, "in time the savage bull doth bear the yoke,'" Act 1 Scene 1, meaning that in time even Benedick, who is seen like a savage bull whose against marriage, will break to the taming that love and marriage brings. Beatrice and Benedick's developed love is shown after they are fooled into thinking the other loves them. In the end, the fact that the two were tricked into falling in love is irrelevant as their love for each other has been nurtured to a point were they are both willing to commit and get married. The character of Beatrice is used by Shakespeare to go against the conventional woman in a patriarchal society. She does everything that is unexpected of a woman. She rebels against the unequal treatment of women in the patriarchal society and refuses to marry until she finds her perfect match - Benedick of course. The character of Hero is an example of what the women were expected to be like. Shakespeare uses Beatrice to challenge the role of the conventional woman of this time. ?? ?? ?? ?? Musonda Malama. English Literature Coursework 12HT ...read more.

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Response to the question

This question asks candidates to analyse how Shakespeare challenges the accepted behaviour of women at the time to play was written. The candidate correctly identifies the characters that require analysis (Beatrice, with a comparison to Hero), and also draws on ...

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Response to the question

This question asks candidates to analyse how Shakespeare challenges the accepted behaviour of women at the time to play was written. The candidate correctly identifies the characters that require analysis (Beatrice, with a comparison to Hero), and also draws on a range of evidence from various scenes within the play to back up the points they make about Beatrice's unconventional insubordination.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis has all the telling signs of an A grade essay. Whilst on the lengthy side, very few points made don't earn any points. Where the candidate diverges a little and discusses Hero is quite possibly too much depth required for a question that orientates around Beatrice, there is sufficient reasoning evident meaning that it wasn't completely in vain. However, in an exam, under time constraints, it may be worth deciding which analysis is imperative and which is surplus, so as to make sure you don't run out of time.
The analysis of how Beatrice rebels against the convention of the time is very good and covers a diverse range of points spanning rom her hatred of Benedick being generalised to all men (I would rather hear a dog bark at a crow than a man say he loved me"), to how she commands Benedick once declaring her love for him ("Kill Claudio"), all of which create a very strong response to the question.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is excellent. The candidate shows an extremely well-attuned use of the English language, offering a variety of sentences structures and grammatical techniques. Spelling is flawless and the answer is punctuated accurately.


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 21/02/2012

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