How Does Shakespeare portray Women in 'Much Ado About Nothing?'

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How Does Shakespeare portray Women in ‘Much Ado About Nothing?’

I believe eavesdropping plays a very important role in Much Ado. Therefore, I have chosen to answer this essay question, as I feel strongly about it. In the play, Shakespeare makes use of eavesdropping by using it as a comic device, but also to sort out situations so that the play is able to go on. I will be focussing upon two events in particular to show this. Each event will present a different form of eavesdropping being used. The first will be the gulling of Benedick and Beatrice (Act 2 Sc 3 & Act 3 Sc 1). The second, when the Watch overhears Borachio and Conrade discussing the plot against Hero (Act 3 Sc 3). Although both events create comedy, the scene with the Watch seems darker due to other circumstances, such as the shaming of innocent Hero about to happen. Whenever there is eavesdropping in Much Ado, it is always there for one main purpose, to give reason for plot development to proceed. It is a hint, preparing the audience for the following events about to take place. The eavesdropping during the gulling of Benedick and Beatrice is different to the one of the Watch. In the gulling scenes, the other characters are aware that Benedick and Beatrice are eavesdropping, this is a part of the plan to get the two together. Where else Borachio and Conrade are unaware that the Watch is listening and consequently put themselves in a mess.

The story involves two sets of lovers. Benedick and Beatrice, are almost kept apart by the rebellion and pride of their own hearts. Eavesdropping is the cause for these two to be brought together. The plan was the perfect solution to make them give in to their hearts. They wouldn’t have been capable of working anything out without the help of the others because of their alike stubborn natures. Claudio and Hero, the other couple, are destined to be almost torn apart by the actions of others. Luckily and coincidentally the Watch saves them from being separated through eavesdropping. The main plot and sub-plots are drawn together with this device, and to emphasise the importance of “nothing” from the title, the audience is unable to view the key episode, where Claudio and Don Pedro witness what they think is Hero’s unfaithfulness. Instead, we immediately observe the Watch eavesdropping on Borachio. This is how eavesdropping determines the narrative line of the play, because without it the play wouldn’t move on effectively. It is highly ironic that the word “nothing” in the play’s title is a play on the word “noting” which in Elizabethan slang refers to “eavesdropping”. This reflects the importance of eavesdropping, as it is partly in the title of the play, and therefore must play a big part.

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Benedick is the first to be tricked by the other characters (Act 2 Sc 3). He hides from Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio, these characters know that Benedick is hiding and so they start to lay the plot. They feel that Benedick and Beatrice would be right for eachother. The reason behind the trick is to bring Beatrice and Benedick together. At first, Benedick considers whether what he is hearing is true, “Is’t  possible?..  I should think this a gull..”. Benedick is gullible and believes what he is hearing is true because “the white bearded fellow speaks it”. This ...

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