A Feminist Perspective of Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing, though a critically acclaimed play, seems to be truly a fuss of trivial details and sexist thinking. The title fits the play itself, in the sense that it is a case of a great amount of nothing, which perhaps can be assumed to be a mistake on William Shakespeare's part.
The characters in the comedy are not realistic, and those that could have been were transformed throughout the course of events depicted. The most trouble with the play, however, seems to come from the representation of the female characters, particularly in comparison with the males. It seems almost that the female characters are written off, rather than merely written out. The male characters of the play are given higher roles, and their characters are followed more faithfully, further proving its chauvinistic composition. The title of the play even suggests a sexist nature in its possible Elizabethan reference to the female genitalia. The play seems to reflect the common thought of its era concerning the social status of women, and shares the sexist view towards women with the society from which it spawned.
The first example of Shakespeare's betrayal of his female characters is, of course, displayed in Beatrice. Beatrice begins in the comedy as an outstanding example of a sharp-witted female. She is candidly funny, and brutally honest. She calls people as she sees them, though it might be offensive to those she chooses to observe. For instance, when she spars with Benedick, she hits him exactly where she knows it will hurt - his large ego. "Why, he is the Prince's jester, a very dull fool," (II, i, 130-131) she says of Benedick, to his face. In this statement, she is mocking his ability at verbal sparring, as well as turning his own intelligence into an amusement for the Prince, and whomever may be an audience for it at the time. Later in the play, however, Beatrice's intelligence is lessened greatly. Her character is made into that of the stereotype of an Elizabethan woman: easily gulled, and quick to fall in love. When she hears the planned conversation between Hero and...