Much Ado About Nothing Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing book cover
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How do gender roles influence Much Ado About Nothing? Are there any quotes that support the answer?

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Reuben Lindsey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One of the best examples of the limitations of gender roles occurs after Hero is denounced.  Beatrice is despondent that she, as a woman, can not challenge Claudio for what he has done.  She wants to act out her rage at the injustice but her position as a woman and her weaker physical form limits her from doing so.  Here is the exchange between herself and Benedick:

Is there any way to show such friendship?

A very even way, but no such friend.

May a man do it?

It is a man's office, but not yours. 



Is Claudio thine enemy?

Is he not approved in the height a villain, that
hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O
that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they
come to take hands; and then, with public
accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated...

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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wanderista | Student

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), and their relationship is almost equally run by both male and female (if it wern't for commonly accepted social trends that males ruled in this time, Beatrice would probably make the relationship matriarchal!)