Much Ado About Nothing
In the Renaissance period, marriage was far different and much longer process than it is today. Particularly in the Elizabethan era, marriages were frequently arranged so that both families involved would benefit. Marriages would be arranged to bring prestige, honour and wealth to the family. For the upper class, marriage rarely involved love. Courting outside of one’s class was strictly forbidden and punishable by death in some circumstances. Marriage followed a strict set of protocols that signify maturity and coming into one’s own. In this time, dowries often played a large part in the decision to marry. A dowry, is the custom in which involves an interchange of cash, jewels, foods, estates between the father of the bride and the groom. Her dowry depended on the financial status of her family. The very rich, the nobles and the royalty, generally married to make their families social standing better and to increase their family’s wealth. Many couples who were rich would meet the first time on their wedding day. On the other hand, most of the lower class, from merchants to peasants, usually married for love, or at least compatibility. In the later centuries of the Renaissance period, the parents were more willing to let their children marry, which meant allowing them to mature before making the decision. The first stage of marriage was a courtship, which also involved friends and family. The man generally asked a woman’s father for permission to court his daughter. After a courtship comes a promise to marry. The final step was the wedding day, when family and friends would celebrate the union of the couple. There is a feast with wine and dancing. Just as today, a woman’s wedding was one of the most important days in her life.
The marriage and courtship customs featured in the play “Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare, has commonalities and distinctions with the Renaissance customs. Claudio’s feelings for Hero lights up...
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