The Lives of The Female Characters In Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
It is hard to imagine that there could or ever have been restrictions
on the choice of one’s spouse become a reality, more so far for women
than men. Women’s rights, especially when it came to choosing a mate,
were minimal during the Elizabethan period. Marriages for women tended
to be arranged or not allowed before, during and after the 16th
century. One might wonder what rights women did have, concerning
marriage and how could they be seen in the play, “Much Ado About
Nothing” by William Shakespeare.
In Elizabethan England, women were only seen as marriageable if they
kept their virginity. During the time in which Shakespeare wrote the
play, the typical women of the Elizabethan would have been similar to
Hero. This is due to the fact that in the 1600’s women were expected
to be co-operative, modest, virginal and placid. Beatrice on the other
hand would be seen as a great example of non traditional women in the
Elizabethan period. She may have been seen as disobedient, cheeky and
rebellious during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st.
Nowadays however, due to the change in women’s rights at the turn of
the 20th century, wee see Beatrice as a more of an acceptable women.
One might prefer Beatrice’s character for many reasons, one being that
she is bold and set in her ways. We can see this through her stubborn
views on marriage and love. During the first two acts of the play,
Beatrice “would rather hear her dog bark at a crow than a man swear he
loves her.” (Act 1 Scene 1). Beatrice swears in act 2 that she will
also never marry, “Not till God makes men of some other metal than
Earth.” Nowadays modern people may prefer that view, as it shows an
independent woman, still content without men. In Elizabethan times, a
young girl’s aims were to get married at a young age, so an audience
in those may have been surprised by Beatrice’s rebellious nature.
Hero on the other hand would have been seen as an agreeable character
who obeys fathers will and is always helpful. We see this throughout
the play, such as when Antonio and Hero’s father warn her that prince
Don Pedro may ask her to marry him on the night of the ball. Hero says
nothing, however we see her co-operation through Beatrice’s remarks
“is it my cousin’s duty to make courtesy and say, Father, as it please
you.” She is helpful in the plot to bring about Beatrice and Benedick
together as we see by her statement: “I will do any modest office, my
lord, to help my cousin to a good husband. In modern times, we see
Hero’s character as sweet and innocent.
In modern times Beatrice would be seen as a socially acceptable
character. She is witty, cheeky and thinks for herself. We see her as
mischievous throughout the whole play, especially in her...