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In relation to the establishment and defence of honour, how are the roles that men and...

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mikaylas | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 14, 2012 at 9:51 PM via web

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In relation to the establishment and defence of honour, how are the roles that men and women play in Much Ado About Nothing emphasized?

This question focuses on the conversation in Act 4, Scene 1 between Beatrice and Benedick where they are confessing their love for one another. I would like to know what the general roles of men and women in the play are connected to the establishment and defence of honour. References to other parts of the play are welcome,too.

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wanderista | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted October 3, 2013 at 12:18 PM (Answer #1)

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The roles of gender, more specifically the role of women, are contrasted in Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing'. Hero is a quiet, obedient, shy and feminine woman who marries the valiant, manly and noble Claudio. Claudio acts as if he has purchased Hero, and she is his asset. This relationship was one view of the role of gender; a patriarchal family with a dominating male and an obedient female.

However, the relationship with Benedick and Beatrice is much more different. Beatrice is an outspoken, intelligent, witty and confident woman who possesses masculine characterisitcs, like a need for revenge. She enjoys exchanging insults with Benedick (which shows the instability of their relationship at the end of the play).

In relation to Act 4, Beatrice shows that the role of men is to do the fighting - Beatrice asks Benedick to kill Claudio. Benedick is very reluctant at first, so Beatrice resorts to feminine like seduction to convince him. She manipulates gender characteristics to get what she wants.

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