Gender Roles in Much Ado About Nothing Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

Gender Roles in Much Ado About Nothing and Trifles

Today, gender roles have become far more flexible than as recently as 50 years ago. Women today can enter management positions, have focused careers, and expect salaries on the same level as those of men. Indeed, some women have proved themselves to be as competent, or more so, in leadership positions as men. At the same time, however, women are free to choose for themselves the lives they want, and some prefer lives as home makers and mothers. Society today is far more tolerant of women who choose either a career, homemaking, or a balance of both to live their lives. This is why it is so interesting to examine plays from earlier times, when assigned gender roles were far more rigid. Authors such as Shakespeare in "Much Ado About Nothing" and Susan Glaspell in "Trifles" offer significant comment on the social values of their times with regard to gender roles. With the perspective of today, critics can also add their own interpretations of these roles when reading such plays. In both plays, women and men have commonly accepted gender roles, but it is also true that some of the women break the norms imposed by these roles to great dramatic effect.

In Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" Claudio and Hero are the most obvious examples of traditionally assigned gender roles in the play. Claudio is the typical strapping young lad, a nobleman who is well-respected. In other words, he is a typically prince-like character to sweep the princess-like Hero off her delicate feet. Hero, on the other hand, is a sweet, sensitive, and kind woman. She plays the typical role of her gender and age, pining for marriage, and delighted when it presents itself in the form of Claudio. The two are in love almost as soon as they meet for the first time. Neither Claudio nor Hero break their traditional gender roles, even in the face of conflict.

When Claudio is deceived into believing that Hero is unfaithful, he immediately jumps to the conclusion that it must be true, again in typical male fashion. When he goes even further by humiliating Hero on their wedding day, she in turn responds in a typical female way by having an emotional breakdown. She does absolutely nothing to defend herself and neither she nor her family does anything active to uncover the truth. Instead, she submits to her father's decision to pretend that she is dead from grief and shock. The gender role assigned to Hero is reinforced by the fact that nobody, including Claudio, finds this deception difficult to believe.

What is somewhat surprising is Benedick's reaction to Claudio's treatment of Hero. The former challenges the latter to a dual. This signifies a break of gender role, since he is on the side of Beatrice, Hero's cousin. Beatrice and Benedick, who ultimately also fall in love, are less typical of the assigned or traditional gender roles of the day.

Beatrice is a strong female figure, extremely intellectual, and very unwilling to be constricted by marriage, especially to a controlling man. Indeed, she is happy never to marry or to marry only when she finds a partner who is truly equal. Despite their many word skirmishes, this is what Benedick becomes to her; a completely equal partner.

What is interesting is that Beatrice breaks out of her atypical strong female character on two occasions; first by opening herself to the relatively weakness and vulnerability created by romantic love, and second by her reaction to Hero's humiliation. In Act IV scene i, for example, she wishes to be a man so she could avenge Hero's undeserved dishonor (line 312 -- 318). Here, she acknowledges that, for all her intellectual prowess and strength, she is unable, as a woman, to defend the honor of another woman. This is a role that Benedick is willing to fulfill for her out of his love. Hence, even though Beatrice is mentally very strong, she admits that she can do nothing but "die" with "grieving" because she is a woman.

In the wake of Hero's tragedy, Benedick and Beatrice finally acknowledge their love for each other. Although this creates for them a reversion to more typical gender roles, Beatrice maintains her atypical female strength by entering into one of her…[continue]

Some Sources Used in Document:


Cite This Essay:

"Gender Roles In Much Ado About Nothing" (2013, May 20) Retrieved December 7, 2016, from

"Gender Roles In Much Ado About Nothing" 20 May 2013. Web.7 December. 2016. <>

"Gender Roles In Much Ado About Nothing", 20 May 2013, Accessed.7 December. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Roles of Gender and Sexuality

    Heroes occur -- within the conventions of Western drama and Western literature more generally -- within the context of tragedy, for it is the stresses of tragic situations that (typically) allow for heroism to arise. But we can -- especially if we use the lenses of gender and queer theory -- see that Shakespeare has written a comedic play that nevertheless allows for heroism to come through. At least

  • Shakespeare s Foreshadowing

    Shakespeare's Foreshadowing In Tragedy And Comedy Shakespeare is popularly known as "The Bard" for good reason: he excels at his literary craft, applying all the techniques and tools of drama at his disposal with a certain regularity. One of these important tools necessary for any truly coherent play is foreshadowing, or the appearance of elements early in the play that subtly predict the future direction of the plot, action, or symbolism.

  • Comedy From the Greek Komoidia

    REFERENCES Brown, G. Movie Time: A Chronology of Hollywod. New York: McMillan, 1995. Byrge, D. The Screwball Comedy Films. New York: McFarland, 1991. "Censored Films and Television." January 2000. University of Virginia. September 2010 . Dale, A. Comedy is a Man in Trouble. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001. Ebert, R. "Some Like It Hot." 9 January 2000. Roger 12 September 2010 . Engleking, A. "A Barbed But Generous Comedy of Manners." 17 June 2010.

  • Flapper Movement the Effect of the Flappers

    Flapper Movement The Effect of the Flappers on Today's Women The 1920's in the U.S. And UK can be described as a period of great change, both socially and economically. During this period the image of the women completely changed and a "new women" emerged who appears to have impacted social changes occurring in future generations of both men and women. This new symbol of the women was the Flapper. The Flapper

  • Piaf Pam Gems Provides a View Into

    Piaf," Pam Gems provides a view into the life of the great French singer and arguably the greatest singer of her generation -- Edith Piaf. (Fildier and Primack, 1981), the slices that the playwright provides, more than adequately trace her life. Edith was born a waif on the streets of Paris (literally under a lamp-post). Abandoned by her parents -- a drunken street singer for a mother and a

  • Palliative Care

    Hisory of Palliatve Care Palliative Care Palliative Care Methods Palliative care entails assisting patients get through pain caused by different diseases. The patient may be ailing from any diseases, be it curable or untreatable. Even patient who are sick and almost passing away will need this care. Palliative care has characteristics that differentiate it to hospice care. The key role for palliative care is to help in improving the existence of someone and

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved