Explore the ways strong feelings about marriage are presented in Much Ado about nothing and Far from the Madding Crowd Marriage is the contract made by a man and woman to live as husband and wife. It is also a legal contract binding two individuals from different families, ensuring that their wealth and land is passed on to the descendants with no disputes. However the concept of marriage has not changed through the ages. Regardless of how people enter into a matrimony. Marriage will always be a bond between two individuals involving, responsibility, commitment and trust. Marriage is essential to both texts, whilst Hardy and Shakespeare were writing; marriage was still a very expected convention. It was still treated like the necessary and normal thing to do. Both texts are dealing with the social attitudes towards marriage. Far from the Madding Crowd and Much Ado about Nothing, both have to very interesting relationships. Beatrice and Benedick and Bathsheba and her three suitors. Beatrice is a prime example of one of Shakespeare’s, strong female characters. Beatrice refuses to marry until she finds the perfect equal partner. She believes that marriage will eschew her liberty and freedom. In MAAN Act 1 Scene 1 Beatrice goes on to say ‘Not until God make men of some other metal than earth would it not grieve a woman to be over-mastered with a piece of valiant dust ‘ . Here she plays on the notion that men, will only turn to dust in the end of life, so it is not fair for them to control women. Beatrice uses this as an excuse to laugh at the concept of gender inequality and marriage. Beatrice also insists that ‘Adam’s sons are my brethren ‘, that she would be committing incest by marrying all men. Beatrice does not really believe that she is a blood-sister to all men; this is just another way for her to ridicule the concept of marriage. In Act 2 Scene 1 of MAAN, Beatrice seems to laughs at herself a lot, it’s almost as if she does that so no one else can. Here she jokes about being ugly ‘I and I am sunburnt I may sit in a corner and cry heigh-ho ‘, this shows us that Beatrice uses every opportunity she can to laugh at the concept of marriage. She jokes about being unattractive and ugly , as if this were the main reason she is still unmarried However , Beatrice unexplained bitterness towards benedick allows us as a reader to question whether she has been hurt by him before .Still hurt from her past experiences she greets him with scorn and anger . In contrast to Beatrice’s view, Shakespeare uses the same sort of emotions, to convey strong feelings about marriage. In the first scene of MAAN, Benedick makes a very negative anti-martial comment whilst talking to Don Pedro and Claudio. ‘He will do himself the right to not trust any women, rather than doing himself wrong by trusting any ‘. This shows us that Benedick is distrustful of women and would rather not be involved with one. Shakespeare uses animal – orientated imagery to describe Benedick’s view on marriage. He describes it like being a ‘savage bull’ he says ‘pluck off the bulls horns and set them in my forehead. Benedick believes that marriage is like being publicly disgraced and cuckolded.’ He also believes that marriage would mean sacrificing his independence ‘here is a good horse to hire’ and breaking his pride. Benedick finds the thought of losing either this foolish. Benedicks complete transformation towards marriage is made very clear to the audience, as he declares gloriously and proudly ‘Get thee a wife there is no staff more reverend than one tipped off with a horn’. Bathsheba and Beatrice are very similar characters; both characters are feisty, intelligent and independent women. They both have the choice of picking who they want to marry because they were orphans and that permitted them too. Both societies that Hardy and Shakespeare, wrote these characters to live in usually had arranged marriages. Bathsheba is portrayed as an independent unconventional Victorian woman, who would be frowned upon by society. Bathsheba believes marriage is like a game or battle, which consists of ‘probable triumphs’ for her. In chapter 4 of FFMC Bathsheba’s feelings towards marriage, are made known through a dialogue between her and Gabriel. ‘I shouldn’t mind being a bride at a wedding if I could be one without having a husband ‘. This shows us that, Bathsheba is attracted to thought of marriage, the romance and companionship. But she is not ready for the responsibility and challenges that being a Victorian wife come with. Bathsheba’s refusal to Gabriel’s proposal was due to the fact that she would rather marry a handsome young man with, humour and wit which is something Gabriel is not. Hardy uses Bathsheba and Gabriel’s conversations to show Gabriel attitudes marriage. ‘I can make you happy ‘, ‘you can have a piano in a year or two ‘. Gabriel sees his role as the husband to provide and please his wife. He is showing Bathsheba all he has to offer. Gabriel’s reasons for wanting to marry Bathsheba were completely practical; he had reached an age when he should be considering marriage. However Gabriel only sees Bathsheba superficially for her beauty, this was normal during Victorian time as husband and wife only got the chance to know each other and love each other when they were married. So Gabriel knows nothing of Bathsheba personality wise. Farmer Boldwood, another one of Bathsheba’s suitors. Boldwood is a very quiet and reserved man; he seems unable to fall in love with any woman. Until Bathsheba sends him a valentines card saying ‘marry me ‘. Boldwood then acts upon the valentine’s card by proposing to Bathsheba. He then blackmails Bathsheba trying to persuade her to marry him ‘I should not have spoken out had I not been lead to hope’ .From the moment Boldwood proposes to Bathsheba, he develops a crazy obsession with her and refuses to give up the thought of not marrying her. Gabriel and Claudio’s reasons for wanting to marry are very similar. Claudio and Hero’s love is based upon first impression, ignorance and wealth. Shakespeare shows his audience how women were dominated by men in the Elizabethan society. Claudio metaphorically asks ‘Can the world buy such a jewel‘, portraying Hero as an object or some sort of prized possession. Hero is seen as the dutiful, obedient daughter. When her Leonato says ‘If the prince do solicit you that kind you know your answer’. She knows she has no choice, but to say yes. In Elizabethan society marriage were normally arranged between the parents of each family. However Hero was very lucky, not having an arranged marriage to someone twice her age as that happened often. At that time it was not shunned upon, because the families regarded what they were doing as right. They believed that if they were marrying their daughter into a family of wealthy, regardless of what age they were doing her right, because she will always be looked after and taken care of. The first time we here of Hero is during Claudio and Don Pedro’s conversation ‘Hath Leonato any son ‘. This shows us that Claudio is interested in the financial status of Hero, and he is really inquiring about whether Hero will inherit Leonato’s wealth. As a reader we do not here much Hero throughout the course of the play, she is portrayed as a sweet idyllic girl. Hero’s inner thoughts are first heard, in Act 3 Scene 4 ‘God give me joy to wear it! For my hear is exceeding heavy ‘. This shows us that Hero does have some sort of anxiety towards marrying a complete stranger. Hero is about to marry a man she has never met before, and a man she has no knowledge on. Only from what, she has been told from others. Both novel and play, question whether marriage is really a reward or punishment. Such emphasis is placed on marriage and what was expected of you. As a reader it makes you consider whether it was a blessing or not for the characters in the text. However, both novel and play have chosen different ways to explore these feelings. In Much Ado marriage takes on a rather comedic form and Far from the Madding Crowd marriage is explored in ever day lives of middle class and working people. Another central part of marriage is adultery and cuckoldry. For example Benedick fears being cuckolded and publicly disgraced. In FFMD purity is questioned, but in Much Ado it is assumed that is why so much emphasis is placed on Hero’s ‘infidelity’. Both societies show that love was not a necessary ingredient for marriage.