Shakespeare's Presentation of Hero and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing

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Shakespeare's Presentation of Hero and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing Hero and Beatrice are the two main female characters in Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" and they tell us a lot about how Shakespeare saw women in the context of the sixteenth century upper classes. In looking at the presentation of the characters it is important to examine their entrance into the play and what first impressions the audience gets of their personality and appearance. Although they are both present in the very first scene of the play it is Beatrice who speaks the most and makes her presence known. Her very first line is also worth noting as when she says "I pray you, is Signor Mountanto returned from the wars or no?" She is making a joke about Benedick and is therefore showing that she is both a playful character and also not afraid to think of herself as equal with men. This would have been a strange sight to a typical Elizabethan audience as women in that era were supposed to be quiet and subordinate characters, not speaking out against men. Beatrice is also showing that she is a witty and intelligent character as she uses the word Mountanto to describe Benedick. This is a term used in fencing to describe an upward thrust, so it could be both a sexual innuendo or linked to the war which has just ended. In contrast to this creative outburst, Hero's first line is completely straight. When she says "My cousin means Signor Benedick of Padua" she is just being totally honest with the people she is talking to. This is her only speech throughout the entire first Act of the play and her second line "He is of a very melancholy... ... middle of paper ... ...e was afforded high status within the household. Her speeches also become longer and more confident as the play continues, possibly showing that she has learned and progressed from her experiences. Overall I think Shakespeare has presented the characters of Beatrice and Hero both as necessary characters to the plot of Much Ado About Nothing but also as symbolic messages to the people of his time, telling them that they should not become drawn in to living under the control of different social rules and protocols, because it is only when people act themselves that they can find true happiness, as Beatrice does in the play. Hero could be seen as a warning sign to girls of the time that they should not allow themselves to be pushed around, and I think Shakespeare is mocking the high class culture in which she lives.
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