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In what way does Shakespeare's play 'Much Ado About Nothing' reflect the stereotypical views held about women by Elizabethan men

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Introduction

In what way does Shakespeare's play 'Much Ado About Nothing' reflect the stereotypical views held about women by Elizabethan men Introduction Much Ado About Nothing exemplifies a kind of deliberately puzzling title that seems to have been popular in the late 1590s. Indeed, the play is about nothing; it merely follows the relationships of Claudio and Hero, and in the end, the play culminates in the two other main characters falling in love, which, because it was an event that was quite predictable, proves to be much ado about nothing The pronunciation of the word "nothing" would, in the late 16th Century, have been "noting," and so the title also apparently suggests a pun on the word, "noting," and on the use of the word "note" as an expression of music. In II.3, Balthasar is encouraged to sing, but declines, saying, "note this before my notes; there's not a note of mine that's worth the noting." However, Don Pedro retorts, "...Note notes, forsooth, and nothing," playing on Balthasar's words, and also demanding that he pay attention to his music and nothing else. In addition, much of the play is dedicated to people "noting" (or observing) the actions of others (such as the trick played on Beatrice and Benedick by Leonato, Hero and Claudio). They often observe and overhear one another, and consequently make a great deal out of very little. Furthermore, women were very oppressed and maltreated during the time, and their status in society was very low. Their names were tarnished with classes, such as "Goddess," "Adulterer," "whore/wife" and "Shrew", and each woman was classed under those headings. They were classed as "nothing" and this title, again, could be a play with those words, as the play is mostly about women, and how they manipulate men, and how men manipulate women - hence, the woman ("Nothing") being the main character, consequently the title, Much Ado about nothing (women). ...read more.

Middle

This led way to some rather perplexing problems, such as necrophilia. This also shows that, now has another chance at Leonato's money, he is willing to love Hero again. By framing her, Don John places her into a category of an adulterer. Claudio does not believe the woman he loves, but moreover, believes Don John who is portrayed as evil, just because he is a fellow man. In this way, during Elizabethan times, women were always repressed. They were never believed, and a man's statement was always superior to that of a woman. This shows the true extent of the inequality of women to men. This is another factor to show how little Claudio loved Hero. Not even Hero's own father believes Hero's account of the events, which shows the extent of the inequality between men and women. This is shown when Leonato says: "Death is the fairest cover for her shame that may be wish'd for." This shows that, upon hearing the attesting of the men over his daughter, he would rather die to cover up the shame. This proves the inequality between men and women. Beatrice is the shrew in this play. She is outspoken throughout the play. She has a love/hate relationship with Benedick throughout this play. At the end, she ends up marrying Benedick. Beatrice says to Don Pedro: "I was born to speak all mirth and no matter." This shows that in her opinion, she was born to answer back and to be a shrew. She is a woman both intelligent and outspoken, a witty creature who faces men as equals. Although clearly related to Katharine, Beatrice is not a shrew. She is a witty and lively lady who is liked by all in spite of her deviation from accepted female behaviour. In this way, Shakespeare is trying to send a message that whichever way a woman is portrayed, she is still loveable and she is still accepted in society. ...read more.

Conclusion

Regarding reflections and stereotypes, it is my personal opinion that women were treated as objects - people to blame in the time of problems, items to use when it suited the men and the lowest of the low in the social hierarchy. The title poses the question: "In what way does Shakespeare's play 'Much Ado About Nothing' reflect the stereotypes views held about women by Elizabethan men." To answer it, I shall share the background to this play - In the past, women have been repressed and been treated inequally with men, initially because of the misconception that men were (and some people still portray that they are today) stronger than women. The men did all the jobs, including theatrical productions, in which, some played the role of women. They were seen as objects of material desire, and were placed into categories, such as shrew (who would speak out and had to be tamed), Adulteress, Whore/wife or goddess. Women still ARE portrayed as objects of material desire, with the pornographic world booming because of this. Also in the past, women were seen as holding more sexual power than men, as they could make two men turn against each other by having an affair. This is still true today; the affair-rate in Britain has been exploding over the last 50 years. Majority of the top jobs are performed by men, even though the percentage is slowly sliding downwards, as more women demand equal rights. Another Hierarchy is that of social class - people were split up into the top class, people like the king and people who were rich, the middle-class, people who were not rich, but not poor. Then, there was the poor class, who could not afford too much, and were very poor. In this play, not many people tell the truth. One of the only one's in the play who speaks the truth is Dogsberry - one of the poorest people in the play. He is adamant that the truth should prevail. This shows that even though he is a "commoner", he is still better than the upper-class. ...read more.

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