Much Ado About Nothing - Feminism

2181 Words9 Pages
In 1598, William Shakespeare wrote Much Ado About Nothing, a play that focused on the social standing of women in and around Europe. Shakespeare shows a healthy respect for women as adults capable of making up their own minds. Through the plot, he advances the notion that women who go against the traditional passivity demanded of them and take an active role in the determination of their future benefit from this. Shakespeare does this through the contrasting examples of two couples: Claudio and Hero, and Benedick and Beatrice. He expects the audience to learn from both relationships, but he clearly feels that Beatrice is emblematic of the direction women should be heading because he presents her with more choices and the better consequences. Much Ado About Nothing is set in the Italian city of Messina just as a civil war fought by two opposing brothers, Don Pedro and Don John, is ending. The brothers have reconciled and come to visit one of the governors, Leonato, as well as his daughter, Hero, and his ward, Beatrice. Don Pedro is accompanied by a pair of soldiers; Claudio and Benedick. Claudio falls immediately in love with Hero while Benedick spars verbally with Beatrice. Don John is still bitter about his half-brother’s better lot in life and tries various schemes to break up Claudio and Hero. He does succeed to some extent when he convinces Claudio to publicly shame Hero, but in the end the two lovers are reunited and Don John is given his just desserts. Meanwhile, through a well-meaning scheme, Benedick and Beatrice are pushed together into a romantic relationship and find that they’re compatible. While the play’s plot focuses in on Claudio and Hero, the character development centers around Beatrice and Benedick, the only two characters who are fully realized. Beatrice, cousin to Hero, and ward of Leonato,
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