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With specific reference to Act 2 Scene 1 examine the representation of women in

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Introduction

With specific reference to Act 2 Scene 1 examine the representation of women in "Much Ado About Nothing". How might a contemporary and a modern audience respond to them? The female characters who are in the play are all present and involved in Act2 Scene1, which makes it the perfect situation to describe Shakespeare's portrayal of women in "Much Ado About Nothing". Hero can be easily compared with Beatrice being of a similar class and very close relatives. Then you have the characters of Margaret and Ursula, the servants, who are also very comparable and show a portrayal of women in lower classes. This scene is cementing the idea that the play is a Shakespearean comedy and we can see this because the Party is used to create dramatic irony between Beatrice and Benedick in their amusing banter. A modern audience very easily understands the story of the play, and can react to its dramatics. Therefore the play still has an appealing plot. However the appeal of the characters is going to be interpreted differently by contemporary audiences, even though the play is very modern in its portrayal of Women. The play was written around 1600, in the Renaissance period, and was written about three quarters of the way through Shakespeare's impressive career. The view of women at this time was typified by the Queen's beliefs that women should be virtuous wives. ...read more.

Middle

This is an example of Shakespeare's portrayal of women, very modern, yet in conclusion very contemporary; it is almost as if the 'immoral' ways were changed by love into what they should be. In modern times the belief in marriage has become much less respected; people and their sexuality have became freer. Claudio describes Hero as a jewel, and in appearance she is fair, young, short, and dark-haired. Benedick describes her as fair in all aspects, and in Elizabethan times this would not have been a bad thing. Fairness, especially of skin, was something women were striving for. Therefore, the fact, that Beatrice describes herself as sunburnt is a way to emphasise their differences. Hero is just, in a modern sense, a spoilt daughter of a rich father; with the pressure put on her to be a virtuous model woman. People do anything for her because she is an ideal girl; and this is what attracts Claudio. She is the perfect wife for the perfect gentleman. She is obedient to her father and therefore to men. She is a virtuous maiden, proven beyond doubt in the climax of the play; and she is quiet in the presence of her 'betters'. Beatrice is on the other hand more mature than Hero will ever be, and therefore men shun her. This difference is what Benedick ultimately falls in love with. In the major difference between the two women is Hero's acceptance of her role in her world and as such she lets it control her, whereas Beatrice is questioning her role. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another major comparison that can be made between the two is a technique that Shakespeare used in many of his later plays. It involves the use of prose instead of verse and how the difference can be used to suggest ideas. Hero, Claudio, Leonato, and Antonio speak always in verse whereas Benedick and Beatrice (who speak far more often) speak in semi-realistic prose. This difference is again emphasising Beatrice's rejection of social conventions and Hero's obedience to them. The two other women in the play are Hero's attendants Ursula and Margaret. Margaret, unlike Ursula, is lower class. Though she is honest, she does have some dealings with the villainous world of Don John. Her lover is the mistrustful and easily bribed Borachio. Margaret loves to break decorum, especially with bawdy jokes and teases. So in contrast the two are smaller versions of Beatrice and Hero. Ursula keeps quiet and keeps within what others believe is acceptable, Margaret is outspoken and forward. Both are also involved in love stories of their own, although small parts of the overall story they follow minor parallels. They find men and begin courting in Act 2 Scene 1, at the same time as all the other love stories in the play. A modern audience can relate to the class struggle of the play, but it is not an important aspect but the play is in fact unrealistic in its depiction of servants; it is a romantic realisation to fit Shakespeare portrayal of women. The servants show other insights into the portrayal of women in Renaissance society, especially Margaret. ...read more.

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