Class Boundaries Were Firmly Observed in Shakespeare's Comedies

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‘Class boundaries were firmly observed in Shakespeare’s comedies’ Discuss with relevance to the play ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ Class boundaries were firmly observed in Shakespearean comedies as they defined the era. Hierarchy was determined by status and class and this concept was clearly shown in literature written at the time. Shakespeare demonstrates how important class was in his plays which can be seen in the language and behaviour of the characters. For example in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ the characters have distinct personalities such as Hero’s respectful and conformist attitude compared to Beatrice’s witty and strong-headed persona. It is made clear that a resolved ending can only be achieved if the status quo is resumed and part of that is the use of class to determine ones actions. Leonato is the Governor of Messina and as a result of this has a high status. Hero, his daughter, is the only heir to his fortune and consequently is expected to behave in a proper manner due to her high position. She always behaves in the correct way which can be seen in her language when talking to men in general but more specifically Don Pedro and Claudio. For example when she says ‘None my Lord’ at her wedding to Claudio it shows how she is being respectful and conforming to societies expectations. She calls him ‘Lord’ which shows how he has a higher rank than she and so she must be polite even when he is being rude and aggressive.. Throughout the play Leonato objectifies his daughter such as when he agrees to let Claudio marry her without asking her permission or opinion first. He says to Hero ‘If the prince do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer’. This shows how he is telling her what to do and she is conforming to it as she knows her place and is aware that she must do what her father wishes. The words ‘you know your answer’ implies that they have already
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