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Much Ado About Nothing clearly shows the attitude of the Elizabethans towards women and what was expected of women of the time. Shakespeare uses two main characters; Hero and Beatrice, to show how women were treated

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Introduction

Much Ado About Nothing Coursework 5. Explore Shakespeare's presentation of women in the play. What does the play show about women's roles in the society of the time? Much Ado About Nothing clearly shows the attitude of the Elizabethans towards women and what was expected of women of the time. Shakespeare uses two main characters; Hero and Beatrice, to show how women were treated. The status of the women also played a part in how women were expected to behave at that time. Even at the beginning of the play Beatrice and Benedick speak their mind but as the audience we know that deep down Shakespeare meant for them to be good willed and a blessing as both of their names begin with bene from the word benevolent. Beatrice was considered precocious for her time. We know this because Leonato, her uncle, often has to make excuses for what Beatrice says. Leonato justifies what Beatrice has said about Benedick from the text, "You must not, sir, mistake my niece; there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her". This quotation shows that Leonato is used to the kind of language Beatrice uses. Shakespeare allows Beatrice and Benedick to use spiky language so that some real emotions can be aired in a society that was very formal. Beatrice also gets away with saying what she wants as her parents have both died and she lives with her uncle. ...read more.

Middle

It is unclear whether Don Pedro was serious with his offer or was just deceiving Beatrice, even so she usually comes up with a quick-witted comment about everything, but here she lets the Prince down gently showing that she does have a softer side, this could be due to the fact that he is the Prince and so should be respected. "Your grace is too costly to wear every day". Beatrice also helps her cousin and Claudio by telling them how they should behave. This shows that she is interested in marriage and love. She is also being unselfish in getting the pair together. "Speak cousin or (if you cannot) stop his mouth with a kiss". In Shakespeare's time when a marriage was agreed upon publicly like that, it was as if they were already married this is because it was a solemn betrothal and it was binding. So this meant that when Hero had supposedly "talked" with another man by her chamber window it was considered so terrible. We also learn that Hero is not very enthusiastic about the prospect of marrying the Prince as at the dance she says to him "I am yours for the walk, and especially when I walk away". This means that Hero likes his company but prefers it when she leaves him. So although Hero is meek and mild she politely stands up for herself. ...read more.

Conclusion

By using alliteration it makes a statement stand out more from the rest of the script to the audience thus making more of a point. An example of this is of Hero at the wedding she says, "Is my Lord well, that he doth speak so wide?" the use of the words wide and well gives a greater dramatic impact to the audience as the words are more pronounced in the sentence. In Much Ado About Nothing we can clearly see women's roles in Elizabethan England. Women were the property of men; firstly it was their father and then he then handed his daughter over to a man whom he thought, was best for his daughter. Once they were married the women was her husband's property and any wealth that she had went to him, the man could do anything that he wanted with her. All higher-class women had to be virgins when they got married so when Hero had supposedly been intimate to some extent with another man it was very shocking. If it were true it would be nearly impossible for anyone to want to marry her. But for lower class women like Margaret it did not matter so much if she were a virgin or not because people who were lower class would court for a year or more, because they did not have much money involved so there was not the same pressure, so women were not always virgins when they got married. With Beatrice we can take a look at what women really thought about their circumstances. ...read more.

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