Comparing Forgiveness and Marriage in Much Ado, All's Well, and Measure for Measure

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Forgiveness and Marriage in Much Ado about Nothing, All's Well That Ends Well, and Measure for Measure

Shakespeare never does manage to make the journey to the end of his comic plays an easy one for his characters or his audience, and as his comedies evolve, the journey becomes even more difficult. Tragic elements and more psychologically complex characters increase the intensity of the ending and often make a reader or viewer question if there will be a happy ending at all. Specific male characters in three plays act as impediments to this comic ending, often prompted by a villainous character and sometimes by their own doing. These men: Claudio in Much Ado about Nothing, Bertram in All's Well That Ends Well, and Angelo in Measure for Measure for various reasons are not ready for marriage or love. Living in a patriarchal society, they are often more concerned with fighting in a war or preserving male bonds than they are with being in love or being married. The problems that occur between the couples about to be married or just recently married are essential because these men need to grow up and become responsible. The only way to change them is to let them commit these harmful acts and realize the consequence. The women: Hero, Helena, and Mariana must be strong enough to forgive them for the hurtful acts these men have committed against them in order for some semblance of a happy ending to take place.

The "crimes" committed by Claudio in Much definitely requires a great act of forgiveness but Hunter feels that forgiveness is the essential element in this play. He point out that "the love of man for woman (but not of woman for man) is seen too frail an emotion to sustain the pressures that are frequently put...

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...nter, "Forgiving Claudio"

Works Cited

Dash, Irene G. "When Women Choose: All's Well That Ends Well." Women's Worlds in Shakespeare. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1997.

Friedman, Michael. "Male Bonds and Marriage in All's Well and Much Ado." Studies in English Literature 35 (1995): 231-248.

---. "'O, let him marry her!': Matrimony and Recompense in Measure for Measure." Shakespeare Quarterly. 46 (1995): 454-464.

Hays, Janice. "Those 'soft and delicate desires' Much Ado and the Distrust of Women." The Woman's Part: Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Ed. Carolyn Ruth Swift

Lenz, Gayle Greene, and Carol Thomas Neely. Chicago, Urbana, London: University of Illinois Press, 1980.

Hunter, Robert Grams. "Forgiving Claudio." Twentieth Century Interpretations of Much Ado about Nothing. Ed. Walter Davis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1969
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