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.
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.
Iago noticeably dominates this passage; his comments slip from general conversation to sharp, cynical comments with regards to women. The comments could be seen as blasé, not on closer inspection highlight an underlying emotion and drive. Iago is possibly one of Shakespeare’s most heinous villains due to his apparent lack of any motivation for his actions within the play. Perhaps it is because Iago never clearly voices his motivation that makes the character so shocking, he is willing to take revenge on anyone and he lacks any real moral judgement. Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, Roderigo and even Emilia all fall victims to his ill will, sometimes down to the slightest provocation and the character obviously enjoys bringing pain and damage to those who fall foul of him.
In the two extracts Benedick shows two very different sides to himself. At the start of act 1 scene 1 he does nothing but joke around and insult Beatrice, and having the pleasure of sharing his thoughts on marriage and women. In act 2 scene 3 Benedick starts to consider what he has heard about himself and expresses his thoughts much differently towards Beatrice. Benedick then changes his ways of doing things and takes life more seriously. In the beginning of act 1 scene 1 Benedick shows to be rude and arrogant.
In Act 2 Scene 3, Don Pedro and Claudio are well aware that Benedick is hiding and listening to the conversation, so they speak poetic blank verse which is suitable for the love obsessed characters which they are pretending to be. The audience may find this funny, and Shakespeare has included this impersonation to create a comedic effect. Until Act 2 Scene 3, Benedick is presented to the audience as a man who is clearly in love, but very much in denial. His apparent misogyny and unwillingness to make a commitment to a woman are almost stereotypes near the beginning of the play. His use of language, especially in his "merry war" with Beatrice, prevents him from being the clichéd male who refuses to commit to a relationship.
His attitude makes it seem like he finds women untrustworthy and weak. Throughout the play Hamlet’s treatment towards women were unkind, unfair and disrespectful. Hamlet is unkind towards Ophelia and Gertrude throughout the play. Hamlet: Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty can translate beauty into his likeness; this was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.
The readers decide whether Lady Macbeth is a supportive or a contrary wife, as Shakespeare exhibits her as an evil character as she continuously uses negative language throughout the play giving her an overpowering presence on stage. Lady Macbeth’s character contradicts with the roles of women in the Elizabethan Era as they were regarded as their husband’s possessions and weren’t entitled to an opinion. A stereotypical Elizabethan woman was expected to be innocent, gentle and dutiful as they were inferior to men. In the same way the lady from the lab presents her desires through a dramatic monologue that runs throughout Robert Browning’s poem. The use of this allows the reader to be involved in the description of the situation that the lady is currently undergoing, and this is simply her cheating ‘Lover’.
This is used as a device to introduce the idea t of ‘knowledge for knowledge’s sake’, which is one of Stoppard’s key themes. It also demonstrates the contrast between Romanticism and Classicism, as each of the characters is representative of one of these ideals. From the beginning of Act 1 Scene 2 and within this extract, it is made obvious to the audience that as a character, one of Bernard’s major purposes is to create comedy through his unabashedly terrible personality. His deceitful nature is introduced when he asks Chloe to lie to Hannah about his name, due to the fact that he wrote a derogatory review of her book yet still wishes to use her intelligence. As an audience, we are already aware of this before Hannah makes the discovery, which increases our sense of disgust at his deceitfulness.
This feud brought problems along with it, such as the killing of Tybalt by Romeo. Juliet had said: “What’s in a name?” which explains her ill fate of being a Capulet and Romeo being a Montague. When Romeo tells his servant, “Ay, mine own fortune in my misery.” This sentence tells us he does not care for what Juliet’s name, nor his is. Bad luck plays a major role in the story of two-star-crossed lovers. There is an example of this when Romeo attends the Capulet’s party, and this is where he is first exposed to Juliet and where the misfortune begins.
Despite common belief that Ophelia and Gertrude merely serve as subservient, foil characters among the men in the play, many critics see strong glimmers of feminism within the two. Many feel that the weaknesses in the women are highlighted solely to take attention away from the atrocities that the men commit. In other words, the men fear the weak, feminine characteristics within themselves, so they project the image of promiscuity onto the females in order to secrete their masculine bloodshed. This is found evident in Hamlet’s reaction to Polonius’ death in his infamous scene with Gertrude, where he attempts to “speak daggers to her, but use none.” (3-2-378) Upon the murder of Polonius, Gertrude’s "supposed sin is made to overshadow his actual sin and somehow to justify it." Moreover, it’s only when Ophelia dies that she is finally able to escape the “whore” image that the men in the play had branded her with.