Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare Essay

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Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Antonio: Well, niece, I trust you'll be ruled by your father.

Beatrice: Yes faith, it is my cousin's duty to make curtsy, and say, father as it please you.

Does this extract reflect Shakespeare's presentation of women in the play, and what is your response to this presentation 400 years later?

The presentation of women in the play is varied. Shakespeare has produced two very different presentations of women. One being Beatrice, the assertive, outspoken, almost masculine female and the other being Hero, the 'modest young lady' who does whatever she is asked.

Beatrice has no mother or father in her life and therefore lacks a sense of duty.
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This implies that men only want a passive, submissive wife.

By my troth, niece thou will never get thee a husband if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.

However, Don-Pedro finds Beatrice to be a 'pleasant-spirited lady' and doesn't see the shrewd and witty side to her.

In faith lady, you have a merry heart.

Her shrewishness is an exaggeration of an innate quality and her intention not to marry is not taken too seriously by the other characters. Beatrice is seen as an independent woman with a strong personality. Her masculinity and wittiness are seen as a sexual challenge to Benedick. Deep down he admires her.

She would have made Hercules have turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her. You shall find her the infernal Ate in good apparel.

In the masked banquet scene, everyone has hidden identities which allows all the characters to be different. Beatrice and Benedick engage in conversation but his disguise makes it impossible for him to defend himself which gives Beatrice the upper hand. This scene shows that appearance is different from reality but the spitefulness makes it more comical.

Why, he is the Prince's jester, a very dull fool; only his gift is in devising impossible slanders. None but libertines

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