Social Class In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing

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The distinction between social classes appears prominently in Shakespeare’s plays as the nobility contrasts greatly with characters of base rank in their language and demeanor. Although the outward appearances of the different classes remain consistent with stereotypes of Shakespeare’s time, he contradicts the expected behaviors of these groups. Through the portrayal of leaders of society, Shakespeare reveals that despite their significant power and privilege, the members of the upper class lack the sensibility to rule successfully, and they rarely act in an honorable manner, only using their power to benefit themselves while neglecting the people they preside over. This uniformity throughout all of the leaders suggests that Shakespeare believes…show more content…
In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon, holds the highest rank and most power, but he regularly acts selfishly and leaves himself susceptible to manipulation, proving him to be an inadequate ruler. When he decides to set up Beatrice and Benedick, Don Pedro definitively claims he can easily trick them into falling in love, saying “Cupid is no longer an archer; his glory shall be ours, for we are the only…show more content…
Power inevitably instills vanity in those who hold it, and thus, chaos and negligence in government cannot be avoided. However, despite this corruption in leadership, civilization can continue to function with morality from where it is least expected. The lowly Dogberry and watchmen provide the evidence that enables everyone to have a happy ending, and Hal, whom everyone regarded as a total disgrace, heroically saves the king from death. Without this unanticipated honor though, society does fall to tragedy as seen in the demise of nearly every character in the greedy, power hungry world of King Lear. Therefore, because of this great importance of unexpected integrity, everyone, regardless of class, holds a responsibility to act with the dignity that once solely belonged to the privileged. While typically, only those who hold no power understand society’s problems and live virtuously, these people, though lacking in status, actually hold the most honor and power to influence positive
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