A Spirited Female Lead in Pride and Prejudice by Austen and Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare

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A Spirited Female Lead in Pride and Prejudice by Austen and Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare

"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen and "Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare are two of the best known and best loved literary works in history. One of the main reasons for this is the strength and personality of their leading female characters Beatrice, and Elizabeth and the relationships that they form within the books. Beatrice, described as being "possessed with a fury", and Elizabeth as an "obstinate, headstrong girl", are characters whose vibrant and incredibly spirited personalities simply leap off the pages capturing the imagination of any reader.

One of the key techniques used
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It is also clear that Beatrice and Benedick know each other "of old" although we do not understand clearly what their previous relationship was until, when later questioned by Don Pedro, Beatrice reveals that she once gave Benedick a "double heart for his single one". By including this idea of a previous failed relationship between the characters Shakespeare makes the ease with which the pair fall into the trap set for them by the other characters more acceptable to the audience as there is clearly still a strong attraction and a lot of unfinished business between them. This also allows Shakespeare to add another dimension to Beatrice's character, in helping to explain the reason that it is particularly "Signor Benedick" who experiences the sharp side of Beatrice's tongue and why it is important that Benedick thinks that he is "loved of all ladies, only you excepted." The importance of Benedick's character in helping to create a spirited female lead within the play should certainly not be under-estimated as without him we would only rarely glimpse the feisty and energetic side of Beatrice's personality that makes her so enjoyable to watch.

Similarly, in "Pride and Prejudice" Elizabeth Bennet meets her main antagonist in her future husband, Mr Darcy. It is her disregard for what is "proper" that makes the character of Elizabeth so appealing. When talking to Mr Darcy she