Feminine Perspectives Presented in Shakespeare's Play "Much Ado about Nothing"

Essay by DamaA, November 2002

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Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing presents feminism, not in its own conventional sense, but as a way of describing the view of life through female eyes. The outlets used to show examples of this avant-garde usage of the expression come in the form of two cousins with very different yet analogous outlooks on life. Hero and Beatrice, each carry themselves in distinctive fashions, and handle situations dissimilarly. By placing these two characters in circumstances that, although vastly comparable, were modified to fit the character type, Shakespeare was able to portray feminism as one entity in possession of many faces which are all altered copies of each other.

Although often appearing to be meek and shy, Hero the daughter of Leonato who is the governor of Missina, possesses a hidden strength, beneath her innate personality, that cannot be gleaned at first. Hero is pretty, charming and graceful and as she is introverted by nature, silence is among her most distinguishable attributes.

Her character stands out as being reticent, passive, submissive, and practically devoid of self- will. An example of such is shown when her father asks her whether she would consent to Don Pedro's proposal and she answers, "Father, as it please you"(I,i,57). She also at times will speak of herself as this, such as when she says, "I will in my modest office..." Yet another example of Hero's lack of assertiveness is shown when she is victimized in the play, the day of her wedding, by an accusation of being a harlot without ever expressing emotions of rage or even appearing indignant at the injustices heaped upon her person, only displaying "maidenly" distress, "[Hero swoons]" (IV,i,107). In fact, she is forgiving of Claudio to the extent that she asks no apology of him for the things he has said...