The Role Of Women In Much Ado About Nothing

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Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare focuses on the enormous gap between the power of men and where women stand. Women were expected to be obedient and dependent on men, innocent, and were also expected to be good wives. Shakespeare wanted women to see how the roles are changing for the better. In this play, there is difference between the traditional roles of women back then, and the ones that stand out from the rest. He depicts this through two characters. In the opening scene, where characters and their personalities, and roles are established; Hero has only one line, which is seven words. Even said that, these lines are just a comment on Beatrice. Hero is the daughter and the property of her father, Leonato. Her helplessness comes from her being overprotected by her father, and the need to obey him. Beatrice, by contrast, does not have a father, she lives on her witty personality and her intelligence. Beatrice has a dream to spend her life “where the bachelors sit, and there live we, as merry as the day is long” (2.1.40-46) When Leonato tells Hero, “Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer,” (2.1.60-63) she just stands there, silently obeying her father. Hero’s looks are her only advantage as a women, as they are what attracts Claudio. He falls in love with her at first sight in the first act, based only on her appearance. Shakespeare makes sure that Beatrice comes off as a woman who is not afraid to speak her mind to anyone. This is portrayed in the beginning of act one, when the mail messenger comes to announce that the soldiers are on their way to Messina. They start a conversation about Benedick and he tells Beatrice that Benedick is a "lord to a lord, a ... ... middle of paper ... ...o asks Hero about Claudio she responds with: "So you walk softly, and look sweetly, and say nothing, I am yours for the walk, and especially when I walk away." (2.1.81-83). Beatrice is what a woman should be. A more modern view of feminism would have had Beatrice not only make her own decisions but follow through with them on her own. While Much Ado About Nothing seemingly questions the traditional gender roles of men and women in Messina through Beatrice's resistance to them, at the same time, the play decidedly ends Benedick saying, "Peace! I will stop your mouth" (5.4.96), silencing Beatrice with a kiss. Still, it cannot be denied that Beatrice, for a time, equates herself with men and the power they hold. Unfortunately, she gives in to love and in so doing, she relinquishes her independence and self-control in the male-dominated world of Much Ado About Nothing.

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