January 29, 2014
Over the course of Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing, the two main female characters – Beatrice and Hero – are contrasted and compared in regards to their power, their personalities, and their virtues. Beatrice, the outspoken orphan who swears she will never fall in love is often set in juxtaposition to her cousin Hero, the virginal, quiet, perfect daughter. While each has their own certain amount of power, Beatrice is ultimately the one who holds the most control over the other characters in the play because of the ability to control language, her ‘maid’ status, and her lack of parents to watch over her.
Language is one of the largest themes throughout Much Ado and the control that comes with the ability to use language in the right ways is constantly examined. Characters such as Beatrice and Benedick, who are witty and know how to use language to their advantage, can often get other characters to do what they wish without much persuasion. Hero, on the other hand, hardly speaks throughout the entire play, making her into the image of a perfect daughter. She is quiet and only speaks when spoken to, which is the exact opposite of her cousin. This contrast is fully portrayed in Act 3 Scene 4, when Hero, Margaret, and Beatrice are all talking while getting ready for Hero’s wedding. Beatrice, who comes in late to the scene is considered to have the final say on whatever Margaret says, while Hero is just there, taking in everything that happens around her. Beatrice has the ability to control the situation and the mood in the room by saying simply, “I am out of all other tune, methinks” (3.4.42). She is explaining, in so few words, that she is feeling ‘ill’ as a result of her love for Benedick. After this statement, the conversation in the room quickly moves from Margaret making fun of Hero and her virginity to Margaret attempting to poke fun at Beatrice’s newfound love for Benedick. The way Beatrice can command a room just by one...
Cited: Cook, Carol. ""The Sign and Semblance of Her Honor": Reading Gender Differences in Much Ado About Nothing." JSTOR. Modern Language Association, 23 Jan. 2014. Web. 23 Jan. 2014.
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