How is the theme of love portrayed through the character Hero in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing ?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Each character in the couples gives us a different perspective concerning the theme of love. For example, the characterizations of Beatrice and Benedick both relay the theme concerning love that the absence of excessive pride is necessary in order for love to exist. However, the character Hero gives us a perspective that is completely different from the other characters. Only Hero tells us that the character traits of humility, consideration, and even forgiveness are necessary traits in order for love to thrive.

We see Hero's trait of humility being portrayed through her modesty. All characters who meet her agree that she is a very virtuous and modest maiden. Even Claudio thinks her to be modest when he first meets her, which we see when he asks Benedick if he agrees that she is modest and calls her the "sweetest lady that ever [he] looked on" (I.i.140, 160). We even see Hero confirm her own modesty when she is asked to participate in tricking Beatrice and Benedick into falling in love and she replies, "I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to a good husband" (II.i.329-330). We even see her humble, maidenly modesty shine through the morning of her wedding day when she chastises Margaret for making a sexual joke (III.iv.22-25).

Hero's love and consideration for others especially shines though in her treatment of her cousin. When Hero is attempting to ensnare her cousin Beatrice in the trap to fall in love with Benedick, Hero takes enough precaution to speak only truthfully about Beatrice, honestly pointing out what she perceives to be Beatrice's character flaws, such as excessive pride and a critical, contemptuous spirit. Hero's motive in doing so is to give her cousin guidance that Beatrice would otherwise have denied if Hero had attempted to ever say these things to Beatrice's face. As Hero points out, had she ever tried to correct Beatrice face to face, Beatrice would have merely made a joke of the matter and laughed Hero to death (III.i.77-78). Hence, we see that Hero has agreed to try and ensnare her cousin in this love trap because she loves her cousin and wants to see her character flaws improve for Beatrice's own benefit, showing us that we see through Hero the theme that consideration is an essential element in love.

We also see that forgiveness is an essential element of love through the love theme portrayed with Hero's forgiving nature. Even though Hero had very just reasons for never forgiving Claudio for his slander, she forgives him enough to go through with the wedding a second time. We especially see Hero's complete forgiveness when she declares herself to be born anew as his new wife while the previous Hero "died defiled" (V.iv.65).

Hence, we see through Hero's modest, virtuous, considerate, and forgiving nature that Hero not only portrays the theme of love, she shows us what Shakespeare is trying to say with the theme, that these attributes are essential for love to continue and prosper.

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