Much Ado About Nothing Theme English Essay

1249 words - 5 pages

As William Shakespeare famously wrote in Sonnet 116 “Love is not love/ Which alters when it alteration finds “ (2-3).It shows how Shakespeare himself defines his idea of true love by stating that if someone's love is genuine love, then it should not change based on circumstance. However, the concept of love in the Elizabethan era was dependent on other aspects, like honor. The play Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare is about Claudio, a young soldier, falling in love with Hero and wanting to marry her. However, Claudio is tricked into believing that Hero is disloyal the night before the scheduled marriage, and publicly shames her during the wedding. She is abandoned by even her father until they realize that it was a trick, after which they forgive her. Throughout Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare shows how maintaining one’s honor comes before love, and how this has a negative impact on society, through Hero and Claudio’s relationship and Leonato and Hero’s relationship.
Honor coming before love can be seen throughout the relationship that Hero has with Claudio. At the beginning of the play, Claudio is shown to be passionately in love with Hero and states that “in [his] eye she is the sweetest lady that ever [he] looked /on” (1.1.171-172). By describing her as the “sweetest lady” that he has ever seen, it is clear that he loves her. However, this love is extremely dependent, on the idea that it is honorable to love her. This can be seen when Claudio asks Don Pedro if he approves of his love to which Don Pedro replies, “Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well / worthy” (1.1:201-202). In this quote, one can see that before Don Pedro even considers Claudio’s feelings for Hero he first makes sure that the marriage would be honorable. It did not matter whether or not Claudio would be happy. The only thing that mattered to Don Pedro was that it was honorable to love Hero. Honor being extremely important can be seen when Claudio finds out that marrying Hero may not be as honorable as he thought. After Don John tricks Claudio into thinking that Hero is disloyal, Claudio's love for Hero vanishes. For example, during the marriage, he screams “Thou pure impiety and impious purity. / For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love,” (4.1:102-103). This quote is a direct attack of her purity and in the Elizabethan era would have completely ruined her. If Claudio loved and cared for Hero, he would not have maligned her reputation in front of everyone. Instead, he could have figured the situation out privately with Hero and Leonato, which would not have hurt Hero’s reputation as much. From Claudio’s drastic change in feelings for Hero, it is clear that honor is valued more than love in the play. The negative impact of this is the grief it caused Hero to lose her loved one and have her reputation ruined.
Claudio is not the only person in the play to forget about his proclaimed love when his honor is questioned. This can also be seen with...

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