Gender Relations in Much Ado About Nothing

1625 Words7 Pages
Word Count: 1493 How far do you agree that Shakespeare’s portrayal of gender relations is more sinister than comic? Shakespeare’s depiction of gender relations in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ distinguishes the female and male stereotypes during the Elizabethan era in 1599. Shakespeare accomplishes this through the contrasting couples of Benedick and Beatrice and Hero and Claudio. The relationship within father and daughter is likewise used to demonstrate the sinister and slightly comedic relations between men and women. To a great extent, modern audiences would find the portrayal objectification of women very much ominous, especially in the case of Hero. Shakespeare’s depiction of the interactions between Claudio, her future husband and Leonato, her father prior to Hero’s public shaming conveys this. In act two scene one Leonato says to Claudio ‘take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes’ (2/1/280). Here the two men are discussing the giving of Hero as if she were an object to be traded and that his adult daughter is in no position to decide who she marries. Shakespeare presents the stranglehold that men have over women and furthers the notion that men view women as items to be controlled in Messina culture. The characterisation of Hero can be seen as offensive to many female critics as Hero’s willingness to be ruled by male figures ’I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to a good husband’(2/1/346) presents how the Elizabethan society expects obedience from women and Hero helps promote this ideology. However, Leonato’s treatment of Hero addresses how gender relationships, even between family members are highly suggestive of harm. When Claudio slanders Hero, Leonato exclaims ‘vanquish’d the resistance of her youth and made defeat of her’ (4/1/45-46). This is pitifully sad,
Open Document