Courtship in Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
The themes of love, marriage and courtship are an important part of
'Much Ado about nothing'; they are presented in a way that reflects
the attitudes of the society at that time. I will explore the
different attitudes of modern audiences and Shakespeare's audience
towards these themes in the play.
The two examples of relationships I have chosen are Beatrice and
Benedick's and Hero and Claudio's. This is because I think they are in
contrast with each other, at the beginning of the play it appears that
Hero and Claudio will be the perfect couple formed in a conventional
way, Claudio goes through the right channels and their marriage is
arranged. Later we learn that even though Beatrice and Benedick seem
to deeply dislike each other and think they would be a rather an
unexpected couple we realise later their love is more sincere and
The couples communicate on different levels; this reflects how
comfortable they are in each other presence. Hero and Claudio's
marriage was by proxy; Don Pedro was to woo Hero in Claudio's name.
Hero's father is then immediately asked for Hero's hand in marriage.
This highlights the fact that there is little if no communication
between the couple before they decide to marry. Both Hero and Claudio
are apprehensive, Hero a virtuous female who would not approach
Claudio and he is anxious in wooing for himself.
To a modern audience Claudio's love for Hero may seem immature and
spontaneous, 'my liking may too sudden seem' as even Claudio admits.
His love for Hero seems to be based purely on looks, 'in mine eye she
is the sweetest lady that I ever looked on'. Claudio's attraction to
Hero is one that reflects the conventional notions of courtship.
Although Shakespeare's plays present love as unpredictable, as there
are many images of cupid in 'Much Ado' as well as love at first sight
in his other plays such as in Romeo and Juliet.
Beatrice and Benedick's relationship appeals more to a modern
audience, they are direct and confident in expressing their own
opinions and the opinion that they have of each other. Even when
Beatrice and Benedick are in agreement with each other that is, that
they are against marriage, they cannot help but quarrel.
Benedick: God keep your ladyship in that mind so some gentlemen or
other shall scape a predestinate scratched face
Beatrice: scratching could not make it worse and t'were such a face as
This constant bickering between Beatrice and Benedick is a passion
which their relationship is built upon, each are intuitive they echo
the others language. They are not wooing in the expected ways because
their relationship is one of equals. This is in contrast to the way
that Hero and Claudio court; he cannot imagine Hero as a passionate