Much Ado About Nothing Year 10 Essay

918 words - 4 pages

Through the female characters in the play, Shakespeare is able to showcase different stereotypes through the characters of Beatrice, Hero and Margaret. These all represent the patriarchal society evident throughout the play. Beatrice’s witty and strong personality is contrasting to both Hero’s and a standard Elizabethan woman’s. Hero’s pure and innocent character symbolises her easily controlled nature, questioning the patriarchal views of men during Elizabethan times. Both high class females are compared with Margaret’s lower class freedom and sexual innuendos, shifting the views of women completely. Shakespeare carefully molds each character to fit their personality, all which deify stereotypes and patriarchal views.

Beatrice is portrayed by Shakespeare as a strong, independent woman who challenges stereotypical Elizabethan women. This is seen in Act 1 Scene 1, when Beatrice and Benedick meet each other after Benedick returns from war through Beatrice’s intelligent banter with Benedick. The metaphor ‘a bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours’ illustrates Beatrice’s comparison of her being a bird and Benedick being a beast. This shows her quick-witted nature as well as her defiant personality, contrary to Elizabethan women. Beatrice’s defiancy rebellious character is also shown through her dislike towards marriage. The hyperbole ‘I had rather here my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me’ in Act 1 Scene 1 shows Beatrice’s strong dislike towards marriage intense hatred towards the conventional ideals of marriage, something that was considered unacceptable during Elizabethan times. Despite Beatrice’s tough exterior, her tender and vulnerable side is revealed in her soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 1. When Beatrice hears that Benedick is in love with her, she professes that ‘if thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee’. By showing her love to Benedick, Beatrice unveils a side to her which is highly contradictory to her strong, defiant personality. Beatrice’s representation is one that non-conforms to women of the Elizabethan era.

Shakespeare however characterises Hero as a young and naïve girl, who is very similar to a standard Elizabethan woman. In Act 3 Scene 4, Hero’s purity is captured through ‘God give me joy to wear it, for my heart is exceeding heavy’. The use of metaphor denotes Hero’s happiness and joy to be wed. However, the figurative metaphor ‘my heart is exceeding heavy’ foreshadows the ill – fate of her wedding, an event which Hero is unprepared for. Hero’s innocence also allows her to be easily controlled and manipulated. This is shown through the quote ‘Leonato’s Hero, your [Claudio’s] Hero, every man’s Hero’ in Act 3 Scene 4. The repetition of Hero’s name after a man’s name signifies how she will always belong to a man, similar to women during the Elizabethan period. As well as ‘belonging to a...

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