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How Does Shakespeare portray Women in 'Much Ado About Nothing?'

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How Does Shakespeare portray Women in 'Much Ado About Nothing?' I believe eavesdropping plays a very important role in Much Ado. Therefore, I have chosen to answer this essay question, as I feel strongly about it. In the play, Shakespeare makes use of eavesdropping by using it as a comic device, but also to sort out situations so that the play is able to go on. I will be focussing upon two events in particular to show this. Each event will present a different form of eavesdropping being used. The first will be the gulling of Benedick and Beatrice (Act 2 Sc 3 & Act 3 Sc 1). The second, when the Watch overhears Borachio and Conrade discussing the plot against Hero (Act 3 Sc 3). Although both events create comedy, the scene with the Watch seems darker due to other circumstances, such as the shaming of innocent Hero about to happen. Whenever there is eavesdropping in Much Ado, it is always there for one main purpose, to give reason for plot development to proceed. It is a hint, preparing the audience for the following events about to take place. The eavesdropping during the gulling of Benedick and Beatrice is different to the one of the Watch. In the gulling scenes, the other characters are aware that Benedick and Beatrice are eavesdropping, this is a part of the plan to get the two together. Where else Borachio and Conrade are unaware that the Watch is listening and consequently put themselves in a mess. ...read more.


So by saying this Benedick is trying to say that he will never fall in love. The men talk about how much Beatrice loves Benedick, and at the same time compliment her. "she loves him with an enraged affection...she's an excellent sweet Lady". The eavesdropping on this conversation leads Benedick to a change of heart. He reveals his true feelings in his soliloquy, "I will be horribly in love with her.. she's a fair Lady". A stubborn and foolish Benedick at the start of this scene, turns into a more affectionate and loving one by the end. This is all due to the eavesdropping. In terms of plot development, eavesdropping is very powerful. In Act 3 Sc 1, Hero and Ursula do their part of the plan, to encourage Beatrice to fall in love with Benedick. Just like the previous scene with Benedick and the three men, this is the female version, and the other half of the plan. Benedick has been taken care of, and now it is Beatrice's turn. They speak highly of Benedick and "praise him more than ever man did merit". Beatrice is shocked at what she hears, "what fire is in mine ears?" However, like Benedick, Beatrice too quickly requires her love for him, regardless of her previous attitude towards him. Beatrice expresses how she is willing for her and Benedick to be together. In her soliloquy she says, "And Benedick, love on I will requite thee, Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand". ...read more.


This is a classic Shakespearean comic device, also in "Midsummer Nights Dream". This could be seen as a sigh of relief for the audience, because we are now able to relax and know that the situation concerning Don John's evil plan is being dealt with. If the watch had not eavesdropped on Borachio's and Conrade, Claudio and Hero would have been torn apart forever. Therefore it was indeed vital that this eavesdropping took place. This scene causes dramatic tension towards the end, when Borachio and Conrade are arrested. The tension is created because we do not know whether Hero's innocence will be revealed to Claudio just in time of the wedding, so that she does not get shamed but instead weds normally. The audience will be in suspense and excitement of what is going to happen next. If the eavesdropping in this scene didn't happen, Don John the villain would have got away, escaping from being revealed to everyone and escaping from his punishment. In the end, his plan fails because of the eavesdropping in this scene. All Shakespeare comedies end with one or more marriages. Shakespeare uses eavesdropping to bring the two couples together in the play. If this did not happen there would have been no marriages in this Shakespeare comedy, which would be breaking tradition. Without the use of eavesdropping, Much Ado couldn't have worked so well as a play. Eavesdropping determined plot development, dramatic irony, dramatic tension and comic devices. All of which make Much Ado a very effective and successful play. ...read more.

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