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What is your response to Shakespeare's presentation of ideas about dishonour and shame in the world of the play?

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AS English Lit: Much Ado About Nothing What is your response to Shakespeare's presentation of ideas about dishonour and shame in the world of the play? My response to Shakespeare's presentation of dishonour and shame in the world of Much Ado about nothing in this 17th century time in Messina, Sicily is that I believe it is of a very strict and serious type. The story represents a Patriarchal society which relies heavily on Nobleness and loyalty. Anything opposing these two things would be seen as Perjury or as serious as a sin worthy of being severely punished or even killed. An occurrence in the actual text is the aborted wedding ceremony, in which Claudio rejects Hero, accusing her of infidelity and violated chastity and publicly shaming her in front of her father, which is the climax of the play. Claudio first questions Hero's father Leonato "will you with free and unconstrained soul, give me this maid, your daughter" as if he were giving implication that Leonato already knew of the blemish on Hero's fidelity, and trying to influence him in owning up, but Leonato knew of no such thing and replied "As freely son, as God gave her to me" Claudio realises this and goes on to expose the shocking exposition of Hero's supposed infidelity Claudio says to Leonato " Give not this rotten orange to your friend; she's but the sign and semblance of her honour.....Can cunning sin cover itself withal!" ...read more.


Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea......Hath drops too few to wash her clean again". The language that both Claudio and Leonato use to shame Hero is extremely strong. To Claudio she is a "rotten orange" and to Leonato a rotting carcass that cannot be preserved "the wide sea .... Hath..... salt too little which may season give ....To her foul tainted flesh!". Leonato seems to be extensively remorseless; at her body that he believed to be dead he confesses "O fate! Take not away thy heavy hand, death is the fairest cover for her shame that may be wished for", This is something we in our time would fin hard to perceive or believe, because your daughter commits adultery, she is better dead, this is not right. I could never even contemplate doing that to my daughter or no anybody who could do the same; this is taking opposition to infidelity before marriage or dishonourable behaviour to an extreme. Claudio shows not his patriarchal way of thinking about the whole situation but his emotional hurt and heartbreak about it "Thou pure impiety and impious purity! For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love, and on my eyelids shall conjecture hang, to turn all beauty into thoughts of harm, and never shall it more be gracious". ...read more.


We also see the unregretful and remorseless pushing of the dagger deeper into Hero's back with the deviser of this whole situation Don John's words "Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true" placing fundamental emphasis again on my point of the heartlessness of the people in this world, primarily the men. Even though Hero is ultimately vindicated, her public shaming at the wedding ceremony is too terrible to be ignored. In a sense, this kind of humiliation contributes more to her lost honour and the fall of her family name than an act of unchaste behaviour, had it occurred, itself would have. Shame is also what Don John hopes will cause Claudio to lose his place as Don Pedro's favourite, once Claudio is discovered to be engaged to a dishonourable woman, Don John believes that Don Pedro will reject Claudio as he rejected Don John long ago. Shame is a form of social punishment closely connected to loss of honour. A product of being born out of wedlock himself, Don John has grown up constantly reminded of his own social shame, and he will do anything to balance it out in favour of himself. Ironically, in the end Don John is shamed and threatened with torture to punish him for deceiving the company. Clearly, he will never gain a good place in this society. ...read more.

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