‘O God that I were a man!’ says Beatrice.
How does Shakespeare explore the role of women in a society dominated by men in ‘Much Ado about Nothing’?
Much Ado about Nothing is a romantic comedy. It involves a huge misunderstanding and a ‘merry war’ between two of the characters. The men in the play are the strong and noble characters; the beginning of the play is set when the men are arriving at Leonato’s palace, they coming back from defeating Don John’s army in a war. There were no women soldiers in the troop just men, the imagery demonstrates women’s place in society in Elizabethan times. Women were thought to have to cook, clean and look after the children whilst the men went out to work and earn money. In Elizabethan times women weren’t allowed to own their own house, they had no choices about if they wanted to get married and they had none of their own money, it was either their father or husband who supported them financially. Leonato is Hero’s father, he controls her courtships and Hero is powerless towards that decision, luckily it’s somebody who she loves but even so I wouldn’t want my father to be making the decision about whom I marry. Leonato also controls his daughter’s virginity because in Elizabethan times men would want to marry a virgin to ensure that any children they do have are legitimate and their wealth and power is being passed down onto a child of theirs.
Hero is a faultless young woman who is very quiet and abides to the rules, unlike her cousin Beatrice, she is very much a ‘daddy’s girl’ and is under his control. She listens to and respects her father. Hero is very much repressed by the male dominated the atmosphere that she lives in that she does not only submit to her father’s wishes but also tries to submit to every other man in the play. There are a few points in the play where I sympathise with Hero especially when Claudio is wrongly accusing her of adultery and her father doesn’t believe that she is innocent. Leonato says:...
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