Honor in Much Ado About Nothing Essay

656 Words 3 Pages
Throughout the history of the world, honor has been an important part of life. In literature, as well, honor plays an important role in many plots and the development of almost any character. Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing is no exception. In this comedy about love and marriage, honor is revealed as the primary reason for many of the actions taken by several different characters. When Claudio breaks off his wedding with Hero, he does it because he believes she is not chastised as she claims to be and in being such, she would dishonor him as well as her father if the marriage were to proceed as planned. The play is an accurate depiction of the honor code and the different standards for men and women of the time in regards to …show more content…
Her honor is disgraced for her “actions” and Claudio will no longer accept her as his wife because of the dishonor she has caused him.
Shakespeare uses both Claudio and Leonato to represent the males of the time and the honor code they were held to. Claudio is in no way held to the same pre-marital expectations as Hero, which, at the time, was the case for all men. For instance, when Hero is accused of being with a man prior to her marriage, no one questions what man and, quite frankly, no one cares what man. Shakespeare also shows how men are judged and given honor based on how their women act. When Leonato learns of the accusations his daughter receives on her wedding day he scolds her and says,
“Wherefore? Why doth not every living thing
Cry shame upon he? Could she here deny
The story that is printed in her blood?
Do not live, Hero; do not open thine eyes…
Why had I not with charitable hand
Took up a beggar’s issue at my gates,
Who smirched thus and mired with infamy,
I might have said, ‘no part of it is mine;
This shame derives itself from unknown lions’”? (IV, i)

This quote shows how a father at that time would wish to have no part of his daughter for committing such acts because he knows of the dishonorable reputation he will receive as a result.
In the time of Shakespeare, men and women were held to different standards and honored and dishonored for different reasons. Chastity is one of those reasons. For a…