‘in Comedy Authority Is Mocked, but Ultimately Approved.’ to What Extent Does This Apply to ‘Much Ado’?

927 Words4 Pages
The issue of conservative and transgressive comedy in Shakespeare’s play, Much Ado About Nothing and the comedic genre in general applies to the themes of authority through gender and social authority. Authority within comedy is often similar, with social hierarchy considered vital, the higher a character in class, the more likely they will achieve a happy ending. The convention of social authority is mirrored within gender authority, with males generally having the upper hand, in spite of how outspoken a female character may have been prior to the ending, which usually is considered conservative. In Much Ado About Nothing, the convention of male authority is challenged through the interactions between Beatrice and Benedick, Beatrice managing to match Benedick in the exchanges of wit Beatrice’s manner is sharply contrasted by Hero who, as a character is conventional and demure, speaking only once in the first act to correct Beatrice as she mocks Benedick with a sexual joke, calling him ‘Signior Mountanto.’ Interestingly, though she is supposed to be the female lead in the play, Hero has the least amount of lines out of the principal characters, which shows her submissive nature, sharply contrasting with Beatrice. Throughout the play, Beatrice and Benedick’s exchanges provide obvious humour as they trade insults until Don Pedro, Hero and Claudio decide to ‘bring Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection.’ Her character’s freedom is a source of humour within the play as it is so far from the social orthodoxy of the time it becomes humorous, as, according to Dr Emma Smith, to be funny means being able to ‘push boundaries.’ Beatrice’s comments show her ideas on authority and her individuality as a female character being outspoken. Comedies are ultimately conservative as female characters are expected to be obedient and almost have to act as
Open Document