The Character of Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing

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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


... middle of paper ...

... mood of Benedict and the idea of him ranting

sulkily. The effect of Beatrice on him is comical in this way because

of his dramatic reaction.

The word choice is also interesting possessing some underlying

meaning. For example, it appears significant of the word ‘endure’ to

be used a number of times. Beatrice states, “I could not endure a

husband” (II.i.26), and Benedick exclaims “I cannot endure my Lady

Tongue” (II.i.257-8). It would seem that these two statements

parallel each other in the sense that the couple are drawn to each

other which is implied by ShakespeareÂ’s choice of words.

¹Marguerite Alexander, Shakespeare and his contemporaries p.69

²Ellen Terry, Four Lectures on Shakespeare 1932 p83-84

³The Arden Edition – Much ado about nothing p30

Vickers p174

*Ibid., pp. 175, 176
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