The Female Role During William Shakespeare 's Much Ado About Nothing

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The female role during Shakespeare’s era is that of daughter, wife, or mother. There was no greater ambition to which women could aspire, especially for the women of the upper class. The only gain a woman could make was to find a good match for a husband. In Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare portrays the perceived faults, flaws, and fidelity the women of his time faced through the characters Hero and Beatrice. In Much Ado About Nothing, Hero and Beatrice, while cousins, are opposite sides of the same coin; and are as different as day and night. Hero is the height of respectable femininity as a quiet and dutiful daughter. While Beatrice’s witty, outspoken and opinionated personality is a mark against her beauty. Both of the women represent two very different versions of a female, yet, in the end, both of them are defined by the act of marriage. Stressing that the highest that these women could reach was for a husband. Hero is an example of the perfect woman as described by Benedick. She is “fair,” “wise,” “virtuous,” “mild,” “noble,” and “of good discourse” (2.3.23-29), all qualities needed to tempt a man into marriage. Count Claudio is so ensnared by “soft and delicate desires” (1.1.249) for young Hero that he falls in love with her at first sight. When a marriage proposal is brought before Hero’s father, Leonato, he decides to “acquaint [his] daughter withal, [so] that she may be the/ better prepared for an answer” (1.2.18-19). Leonato allows his only child to be
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