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how Much Ado about Nothing reinforces and/or challenges the patriarchal ideology of Elizabethan Society.

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Introduction

TASK 6: EXTENDED WRITTEN RESPONSE Examine how Much Ado about Nothing reinforces and/or challenges the patriarchal ideology of Elizabethan Society. Patriarchy is the organisation of society on the basis of gender. Therefore, patriarchal ideology is the set of ideas adopted by those in the society, with which this organisation occurs. 1Patriarchy is bases specifically on the idea that traits and behaviours associated with manhood and masculinity are superior to those associated with womanhood and femininity. This generates many other ideas and assumptions about how both men and women should act. During the Elizabethan period in England (16th - 17th century) patriarchy reached its pinnacle and the roles of men and women were significant in both the public and private sphere. Some examples of these roles include man as father or man as bachelor and women as goddess or women as shrew. Both genders were represented as the opposites of each other, with men being seen as active, rational and powerful while women were seen as passive, irrational and publicly powerless. Men and women in this society were imposed with these ideas from birth and hence adopted the same patriarchal ideology in their later life. Even today, children are immediately identified by their gender and when growing up, are moulded by those around them to succumb to the gender expectations of their society. In the play Much Ado about Nothing By William Shakespeare, the patriarchal ideology of Elizabethan society is both reinforced and challenged. ...read more.

Middle

It seems that all conflict in the play arises from the somewhat irrational behaviour of men, which is seen in Claudio throughout Much Ado About Nothing, beginning when he has little more than met Hero. An example of this irrational behaviour is in the wedding scene Act 4 Scene 1 where the blush of Hero Claudio is interpreted as: "Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty" (4.1.41). This irrational interpretation of Hero's feelings is what brings the assumption of guilt, hence adding to the conflict. 4The remarks of Beatrice in this scene, in which she swears to have been in Hero's presence/bedroom every night other than the last, is also misinterpreted by the irrational men in the play. Instead of seeing the statement as contradicting Borachio's claim of wooing Hero in her bed chamber "a thousand such times," they see it as a sign of Hero's guilt on one night. Shakespeare had challenged the patriarchal idea that men are rational which ultimately challenges the patriarchal ideology of Elizabethan society. Patriarchy, in organising society on the basis of gender, creates a social hierarchy where men hold the highest positions in power. Therefore, one patriarchal idea is that men are publicly more powerful than women. This idea is one that is both challenged and reinforced in Much Ado about Nothing. Although it is heavily reinforced by characters such as Leonato, it is also challenged in certain aspects. ...read more.

Conclusion

When this play was shown, audiences would see Claudio and Hero's relationship at the beginning to be uninteresting because they are the 'norm'. Whereas Beatrice and Benedick's relationship would have been much more entertaining because their characters challenge patriarchal assumptions and their relationship is unusual. Viewer's reactions to the actions of characters would also differ greatly. For example in today's society 6Claudio's condemnation of Hero looks misogynist, patriarchal and petulant, whereas Renaissance audiences would have found it much more acceptable. The reactions of both Leonato and Claudio in the situation would have also been more accepted in Elizabethan society than in today's society due to the values we hold for family and for father/daughter relationships. The plays role in society is also very different. When the play was written and performed, those going to watch would be there merely for entertainment whereas now a play such as Much Ado about Nothing, is much more a source of insight into history than a source entertainment. In the play Much Ado about Nothing By William Shakespeare, the patriarchal ideology of Elizabethan society is both reinforced and challenged. This has been done through the careful characterisation of main characters such as Claudio, Leonato, Hero and Beatrice. He has also included the element of live music and used it to present ideas about patriarchy. By both challenging and reinforcing patriarchal ideas, Shakespeare has been able to create conflict and successfully engage and entertain viewers for over 4 centuries. ...read more.

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