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The Character Of Beatrice In Much Ado About Nothing

2480 words - 10 pages

The Character of Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing

Many would believe this to be a understated summary of the way
Shakespeare presents her character in Much Ado About Nothing because
Beatrice is not just a humorous character but a strong role model for
both ShakespeareÂ’s time and for a modern audience defying social
expectations and being equal to her male counter parts, she is the
heroin of the play and even though speaking “all mirth” which would
probably be expected from a lead Shakespeare role, however she is much
more that that. Beatrice has the most depth to her character in
comparison to other characters than simply humour. Thus the statement
not doing Beatrice justice as she has the most positive influence over
the other characters. To an Elizabethan audience the story line of
Hero and Claudio would be familiar because of the traditional views
held by their characters, and so the audience would have expected Hero
to be the romantic lead of the play. However, Beatrice’s ‘emotional
gravity,’¹ eventually leads the importance of her role to go beyond
that of HeroÂ’s, whilst still maintaining the humorous aspect essential
to her character.

It would seem definite that Shakespeare is making a criticism of the
patriarchal and misogyny that resided in society at that time which is
expressed through Beatrice who defies her social expectations. She is
a strong feminine role model; Shakespeare uses her to challenge sexist
beliefs and the subordination of women. This holds special interest
for feminine critics, alike many of ShakespeareÂ’s works female
characters such as Beatrice have the major parts and speak as many
lines as men; she is witty and intelligent, having a powerful
influence on the development of the plot. For this reason she comes
across as being ‘a free spirit’ and equal to her male counterparts.
Beatrice has more freedom than other women such as Hero as she is not
shackled by a husband or a father which enables her freedom of speech
but not solely because of this as she naturally has a free-thinking
nature which contributes to her strong-minded character.

She even turns down a marriage proposal from the Don Pedro, because
she puts her own beliefs before societyÂ’s expectations. Beatrice uses
humour in this situation to avert from the seriousness using her wit
to diminish the rejection of his marriage proposal and realises that
wit is not suitable in all circumstances thus her apologising saying
that she was “born to speak all mirth and no matter” (II.i.311). This
meaning that it is not in her nature to discuss such serious matters
as marriage (also that she doesnÂ’t want to) and that she sometimes
exceeds the use of the humour and uses it in unsuitable occasions.
She also states “I could not endure a husband” (II.i.26), and
ridicules the...

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