Beatrice is an extremely crucial character in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. She is one of the reasons that many plans and schemes fall into place to provide us with the outcome that the play finally reaches. Shakespeare depicts Beatrice as a very strong character who knows what she wants and how she wants to achieve it. Her characteristics of sharp wit and her ability to be acutely opinionated allow her to be a notable contrast from the other women in the play, whether this be in a positive or a negative way.
Shakespeare represents Beatrice as a very feisty, cynical and sharp woman during the play. We can especially see this when she uses her wit to shock the messenger saying, in act one scene one, that ‘he is no less than a stuffed man.’ This is exceedingly disrespectful to fashion such a rude comment about a man who is just about to arrive back from war. One thing Shakespeare clearly shows us is that Beatrice would not be the ideal woman for most men. To emphasize this he contrasts Beatrice with a weak and quiet character such as Hero who acts upon every mans instruction, we can see this when Beatrice says to Leonato that its her ‘cousins duty’ to say ‘father as it please you.’ Shakespeare makes such a clear contrast between the two women to the extent that Beatrice steals most of Hero’s attention from the other male characters in the play. Furthermore he shows us how Beatrice is perhaps a threat to the patriarchal society at the time, we can see this on page fifty-nine where she implys that it is her duty to please herself, whether or not her father consents. This is unlike Hero, who cannot do anything unless a man is fighting her corner, however Beatrice is willing to
do what she believes is necessary to achieve what she wants. However Beatrice only takes this up to a point, saying ‘o that I were a man for his sake’ which shows the audience that she does realize that being a women has certain limitations. This leads Beatrice to view men as weak as they are not able to carry out this task that she would happily complete if she were a man. Whether or not Shakespeare portrays Beatrice as a positive or negative role model, he certainly makes it clear she does
not fit into a mans world.
Beatrice is portrayed as quite a radical woman for her time. The audience witness her demand of Benedick to ‘kill Claudio’. She is quite irrational by requesting this, especially considering that just a few lines before they confessed their love for
each other. Acting in this way allows the men of their time to think that women did, in fact, fit their stereotype of being irrational and emotional. However Shakespeare unmistakably shows us that in most other ways, she breaks the mould of the ideal women in the seventeenth century. One can see this by her refusal to marry, she asks what should she do with a husband—‘dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a...