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

1660 WordsJun 6, 20157 Pages
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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