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In 'Much Ado About Nothing' Shakespeare presents us with a conventional heroine (Hero) and an unconventional heroine (Beatrice). Which is more to your taste and why?

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Introduction

In 'Much Ado About Nothing' Shakespeare presents us with a conventional heroine (Hero) and an unconventional heroine (Beatrice). Which is more to your taste and why? In Shakespeare's plays, we are often presented with at least one heroine. Although frequently the character was conventional of Elizabethan periods, such as Hero in Much Ado About Nothing, who could be described as quiet, attractive, modest, obliging and 'proper', other of Shakespeare's heroines such as Beatrice were extremely different. Her more modern, outspoken attitude contrasts to what was expected at the time and may therefore have been rather surprising to an Elizabethan audience. In act 1, we are instantly introduced to Beatrice's witty and sarcastic character in addition to the fact she is against marriage, "I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me." (I.1 - line 123) We also learn about her relationship with Benedick, "There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her; they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them." ...read more.

Middle

one who only does what is expected of her and what she is told). When Claudio shames Hero at the altar, the idea that she has been wronged is introduced, thus portraying Hero as the victim. The fact she endures the suffering and takes Claudio back later once the wrong has been put right is also typical of the Elizabethan times because marriage was the ideal destination for women. However today, women would believe that taking back one who has purposefully shamed you because you are told to do so is very weak and may therefore prefer Beatrice who is more contemporary and does what she desires, "Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the next turning." (Beatrice, II.1 - line 139) It is for this reason that I personally prefer Beatrice. I feel Hero willingly accepts the position society has given her as a relatively powerless woman and therefore agrees to any plan, doing what she is instructed to. ...read more.

Conclusion

In this way, Shakespeare forces us to compare Hero to Beatrice. Having done this and comparing Hero, the conventional heroine, to Beatrice, the unconventional one, I can conclude that although Beatrice's wit and attitude may have been humorous for an Elizabethan audience, Hero's more conventional personality would probably have been easier to relate to during the 16th and 17th centuries. However, in today's society, Beatrice's strong female character is more likely to be admired. Her wit, humour, strength as a woman and loyalty to her cousin are the reasons I personally prefer her and why many others may to. In contrast to Hero, Beatrice is in fact an orphan and having no parents and therefore a less conventional background may be the reason why the latter is more free and uninhibited. Beatrice does not become lost in the conventions of an ideal woman but instead is critical of the traditional voiceless role of women in marriage. When at last she and Benedick are together, the audience can tell the marriage will be fulfilled with the couple's continuation of their merry war of words. ...read more.

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