Gender Roles In Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing"

1501 words - 6 pages

William Shakespeare said: “Women may fall when there's no strength in men” (Romeo and Juliet). Throughout history gender role have been a big, whether someone is a feminist or someone believes there is no equality between males and females; everyone has different opinions when it comes to the matter of gender roles. The same thing can be said about William Shakespeare who was a feminist (Shakespeare of Stratford). This ideology can be seen in his play Much Ado about Nothing. In this comedy Shakespeare focuses on two pairs of lovers named Claudio and Hero who are set to be married in a week but before their marriage day, they plan to conspire with Don Pedro, the prince of Aragon to trick their friends Beatrice and Benedick to admit their love for each other. Don John, the brother of Don Pedro, meanwhile plots to prevent marriage of Claudio and Hero by accusing Hero of being unfaithful. Don John initially succeeds in his plan as Hero is accused and ashamed at the marriage ceremony, but at the end Claudio and Hero are united and marry each other. Also, Beatrice and Benedick finally declare their love for each and dance at the end of the play. Shakespeare uses a lot of sources for this comedy and one of them is “Orlando Furioso” written in 1591, which gave Shakespeare the idea of Hero and Claudio’s marriage and Don John’s plot to prevent it. Another source Shakespeare used to write the play is the courtier written in 1588, which gave him the idea of the romance between Beatrice and Benedick. And also “La Prima de la Novelle” written in 1554 by Matteo Bandello gave Shakespeare the idea of putting the setting in Messina, Italy (Shakespeare in quarto). Because Shakespeare was a feminist, some of the women appear as supporting and central and strong in some of his plays which were different from traditional European plays during his life time (Radcliffe, Talbot). Gender role in Elizabethan era in England was clearly defined, even though the era was led by a female ruler, females were subservient to male and male were considered to be the leaders and as time went on some women became more “masculine” like.
The Elizabethan era, considered the Golden age of English history, was during reign of Queen Elizabeth I, beginning from 1558 to 1603. This is the period of the abundant flow of English literature with writers like Christopher Mallow, John Fletcher, and most importantly William Shakespeare (British Express). During this time, the society was patriarchal and men were considered to be the leaders and masters of the society. They receive basic education, have suffrage, and were the owners of the lands and properties. For example, in an agricultural society, land is an investment so the men try to establish social dominance through financial pressure. Men have the right to inherit their father’s properties and the properties are usually passed down from father to son to brother. They are also encouraged to be active in public affairs such as politics, war,...

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