Honour and Fidelity Varies for Men and Women in the play Much Ado about Nothing

1991 Words 8 Pages
The theme for honour and fidelity apply for both men and women in Shakespeare’s play ‘much ado about nothing’. Honour and fidelity is represented very differently for men and women as it would have been for the people in Elizabethan times. In this first section of the essay, I will be exploring double standards and Shakespeare’s awareness of the double standards between sexes and his feminist approach, the differences of honour and fidelity for men and women and upper class and lower class comparisons.
In order for men to be honourable, they should do great deeds in war which gives them good recognition. From the very beginning of the play we see evidence of this when Leonato says in act 1, scene 1.
Leonato: ‘I find here that …bestowed
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However, for women sexual fidelity is important for them to keep their honour. Chastity also is very important, as men do not want to marry a girl who has lost their virginity.
There are many double standards going on with male and female honour and fidelity. With males, they do not seem to have any sexual boundaries. They are not expected to have any fidelity and are excused if they cheat on the partner. Men do not need to keep chastity before marriage. This however is not the case for women. If they do any of these things then they are condemned and are no longer respectable women in society. I think that by Shakespeare repeating these themes throughout the play he shows quite a feminist approach. Rather than go along with the idea that in fact the girls should be punished he genuinely makes us feel attached for those characters. Perhaps an example of this would be Beatrice, although she comes over as a woman who isn’t innocent Shakespeare is careful to keep reminding us she is virtuous.
Shakespeare shows a fair amount of feminism throughout the play. He exploits the ways in which the men treat and think of women in order to show the audience that in fact it is wrong. He does this most prominently in the wedding scene. As we have already become attached to the character Hero, we feel sorry for her when she is shamed in front of everyone. In this scene, we can see how that all the men believe Claudio straight away making the audience frustrated…