'Behind Benedick's Comic Facade Lies a Deep Mistrust of Renaissance Women.' Discuss in Light of the Way in Which the Character Is Represented

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In Much Ado about Nothing, the character of Benedick is presented as a misogynist. He embodies the stereotype of a military bachelor, and his exaggerated chauvinism and sexual bravado provide much comic effect. However, Shakespeare insinuates that this is a comic façade, and that what exists beneath it is a deep mistrust of Renaissance women. At the beginning of the play, the portrayal of Benedick as a one dimensional misogynist is a convincing one; Shakespeare presents him as a stereotypical chauvinistic young man. He appears to be solely interested in women’s sexuality, shamelessly objectifying them. For instance, when Claudio asks whether the world could ‘buy such a jewel’ as Hero, Benedick replies ‘yea, and a case to put it into’. The objectification of Hero as something valuable and desirable (but with no human emotion) is taken further by Benedick; his play upon Claudio’s romantic metaphor is witty but deeply sexist, as he is calling Hero worthless. Whilst a modern audience might see this as derogatory, an Elizabethan audience would have potentially been indifferent; in that age, men were superior; they could be an eligible bachelor, but if they married they would look for a chaste and wealthy wife- talk of ‘buying’ Hero is in a sense quite literal as Claudio would be ‘buying’ into her wealth. On the other hand, Shakespeare hints that this is a façade. Beatrice mocks Benedick’s military chauvinism, calling him ‘Signor Montanto’-Montanto being a fencing term for an ‘upward thrust.’ The fighting reference coupled with the sexual innuendo implies that Benedick is shallow and grotesque. However, it is a fictional and ridiculous name, thus implying that his misogyny is also fictitious. Benedick himself seems to admit that it is false when he asks Claudio: ‘would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant of their sex?’ The word ‘custom’
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