William Shakespeare's Presentation of the Two Pairs of Lovers in Much Ado About Nothing

1860 Words8 Pages
William Shakespeare's Presentation of the Two Pairs of Lovers in Much Ado About Nothing 'Much Ado About Nothing' would have been pronounced 'Much Ado About Noting' in Shakespeare's time. Noting would infer seeing how things appear on the surface as opposed to how things really are. This provides an immediate clue as to how the play and the presentation of the story of the two pairs of lovers would be received by an audience of the time, living as they did in a patriarchal society which was based on social conventions and appearances. It can also be taken as an initial comment by Shakespeare about that society and its values and moral codes. Modern audiences, however, live in a more sexually egalitarian society. Although appearances are still important, values are more dependent on self-analysis and self-knowledge. It is significant that the story of Hero and Claudio, the first of the pairs of lovers, is one that Elizabethan audiences would have probably been familiar with. Ariosto and also Spenser in the 'Faerie Queene' had presented this love story as a tale of chivalry and high morality. Therefore the audiences of the time would be familiar with the conventional characters of Claudio and Hero. Hero displays all the qualities the Elizabethan audience would have admired in a woman. She knows her place in society. Her father is there to be obeyed, and she herself recognises how she should be punished were the charges against her proved to be true, ' O my father Prove you that any man with me conversed �� Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.' There is an absence of dialogue b... ... middle of paper ... ... upon flouting conventions as discussed. In 'Much Ado About Nothing', one may argue that Shakespeare decided to have two sets of lovers to provide the audience with contrasting perspectives on similar situations. One may also argue that the two contrast between what was expected at the time against the unconventional. In both cases Shakespeare's presentation of the relationships between these two pairs of lovers implies criticism of his shallow society and its conventions. Perhaps he set the story in Italyas he may not have wished to upset his benefactors at home. Modern audiences may only perhaps gain an appreciation of this element in 'Much Ado About Nothing' as a study of Elizabethan society. Their empathy and interest may therefore be based to a greater degree in the characterisation of Benedick and Beatrice.

More about William Shakespeare's Presentation of the Two Pairs of Lovers in Much Ado About Nothing

Open Document