Much Ado About Nothing - A Feminist Perspective of Hero Essay

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A Feminist Perspective of Hero in Much Ado About Nothing


Unlike the title of this piece suggests, Hero did not undergo her transformation in Much Ado About Nothing through magic. Rather, Hero was a victim of the double standards and illogical fears that the men of Shakespeare’s plays commonly held. The following quote sums it up quite well:

In the plays female sexuality is not expressed variously through courtship, pregnancy, childbearing, and remarriage, as it is in the period. Instead it is narrowly defined and contained by the conventions of Petrarchan love and cuckoldry. The first idealizes women as a catalyst to male virtue, insisting on their absolute purity. The second fears and mistrusts them for their (usually
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Hero’s beauty is all he seems to be concerned about since he makes no mention of her other possible virtues and attributes.

This banter between the men is consistent with the notion that all Shakespeare men want to marry a pure, socially benefiting woman and avoid cuckoldry. Claudio also does not seem to know much about Hero, thus explaining why he is asking Benedick and Don Pedro about her. He not only wants to know that his budding feelings are justified, but he wants to make sure that his choice of lady is indeed worthy of his honor. Even if Hero is fair, if she will not compliment Claudio’s social status, he will not marry her (Ranald 74).

Hero does not get a chance to mull over the idea of Claudio as a husband. Even the audience knows little about her going into the now famous “shaming scene.” Details about Hero’s virtues and personality are purposely left out, partially to satisfy the dominant male perspective in the play, but also to give more clout to the heinous claim that Claudio makes during the wedding. The reactions of Hero’s father and others indicate that a woman’s virtues are only as good as a man says they are.

How ironic that Claudio’s quick decision to shame Hero at the alter shows his extreme lack of honor and virtue. Rather than stand by his fiancée’s side, he chooses to believe a rumor and instantly disowns her.

Unfortunately, due to the…