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How does Shakespeare present the developing relationships of the lovers in the play?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare present the developing relationships of the lovers in the play? Shakespeare wrote in a time of theatrical excellence, his love of language and sense of theatre aided him in the production of countless plays and poems. Much Ado About Nothing is a play of love and war, with a twist of comedy to lighten the tension ensuring the audience does not become overwhelmed with the emotions of the characters. According to the Elizabethans, a woman's aim was to be a good wife, as their ultimate goal was marriage and their status was to be 'seen and not heard'. Shakespeare's intention was to show two contrasting women, Beatrice and Hero, and to demonstrate how they deal with the pressure of a male dominated world. Because of her wit and determined outlook on life, Beatrice is accepted in the male community but is thought to be obdurate by most men. Whereas Hero, has a submissive attitude to life and this is exposed early on; Act 1 Scene 1 she does not speak throughout the entire scene until she is spoken to. Hero portrays the accepted standard of a woman of her time, which she is expected to do, as she is the daughter of the governor of Messina. During the play the men's dominating power draws to a climax, and the men unite and condemn Hero and despite her independent outlook, Beatrice cannot express her deepest feelings. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare's sexual innuendoes are a major aspect of this play for example there is much talk of sexuality in Act 5 Scene 2 between Margaret and Benedick: "... You must put in the pikes with a vice..." Another device used by Shakespeare is dramatic irony; a prime example of this in the course of the play is Act 2 Scene 3, for we know Benedick and Beatrice have been set up by their friends. Soliloquies are an additional contrivance that Shakespeare uses; both Benedick and Beatrice use this device, which I find very interesting. Primarily because I think it shows they have more depth than Claudio and Hero as they express their feelings through words rather then actions. For example in Act 2 Scene 3 lines 7-28 Benedick gives a long speech of love and how it differentiates between different couples, also when Beatrice is on her own (act 3 scene1 line 107-116) she conveys a heart warming difference from her usual viciousness toward Benedick. It is interesting how Beatrice forfeits her future to save her cousin by asking Benedick to "Kill Claudio" it shows she has more depth than you care to consider. It seems ironic how love and destruction are mentioned on the same page as Beatrice finally declares her love for Benedick but then asks him to "kill Claudio" (Act 4 scene 1). ...read more.

Conclusion

Margaret is Hero's maid, so she is immediately thought of at a lower division, when she sleeps with a man to whom she is not wed, because she is in the lower ranks of society nobody minds. However her situation is not resolved at the end of the play, Borachio is not blamed for the circumstances simply because he is a man, and although one of Don Johns minions and known for causing trouble he is still not considered to be the one in the wrong. I feel that in this play it takes a tragedy to bring the couples together, for after the disastrous wedding Benedick swears his undying love for Beatrice and they are finally united. Don John's plot is discovered and Claudio and Hero are finally wed. My first feelings at the end of this play were that all was resolved and that it was a satisfactory ending after all the trauma. But then looking back if I had watched this play then walked away afterwards, I would not have wanted Beatrice to walk away from her strong beliefs and carry on in silence and I would certainly not want Hero to marry the man who shamed and condemned her to death on her wedding day. Shakespeare achieved all except female accomplishment, I feel, as the women walked away after watching that play would have felt lumbered with a sensation of apprehension and a desire to rebel against the unjust cause that this play imparts. Laura Baker ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is a response to a question asking candidates to consider how Shakespeare presents the relationships between Benedick & Beatrice and Claudio & Hero. In the answer, there is a religiously unbroken focus on the question, and where the candidate ...

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Response to the question

This is a response to a question asking candidates to consider how Shakespeare presents the relationships between Benedick & Beatrice and Claudio & Hero. In the answer, there is a religiously unbroken focus on the question, and where the candidate does diverge from the beaten track in their analysis is only to incorporate highly valuable context marks or brief personal consideration of Shakespeare's presentation of developing love. It is very encouraging to see such a wide variety of addressed scenes and lines that have been drawn from the play to emphasis and evidence points made by the candidate to create a fully-fledged answer that directly answers the question.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis shown here is very good. Though it is not just what the candidate says that gains them marks, but also how they acutely structure their essay in chronological order, with the two lovers' relationships as separate; one after the other, rather than simply commenting on any development of love as they play goes on. This structure shows someone who has planned their answer and has taken care to ensure clarity in the response, and this is a sign of a candidate who shows great enthusiasm for the play and their answer.
I also enjoy the depth of analysis given, with an adept comprehension of how the relationships do not simply develop as an ongoing learning curve, but that there are dips and these are recognised, particularly between the highly conventional Hero and the patriarchal Claudio. There is also a thorough and consistent contextual analysis which shows that independent external research has been conducted and this fortifies the answer as it show an incentive to produce an interesting and individual response.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is very high. There is a well-developed use of grammar to vary sentence syntax and convey the intended meaning correctly (this is very important, as ambiguity can lead to an examiner not fully comprehending the answer as intended) and there are no spelling errors either. There is a very good use of a range of complex punctuation points including colon and semi-colons (all used accurately) which show a candidate who's knowledge of the English language is thorough and profound.


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 13/03/2012

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