How does Shakespeare explore the theme of gender roles in Acts I and II of Much Ado About Nothing?Please reply as soon as possible!
In the world of Much Ado About Nothing there are clear lines that are drawn between the world of women and the world of men. In Messinian society, the sphere of man is based on military camaraderie and honour and heirarchy, as is established throughout these two Acts. By contrast, women are expected to submit to men and their honour is determined by its reflection on the good repute of the closest males. Thus Claudio will only pursue Hero after being assured of her good honour. It is interesting that in comparison to this honour-obsessed fraternity of males, women come out better at the end of the play. Beatrice supports Hero in the face of accusations without any proof, yet her empathy and intuition at the end expose the male fraternity as being somewhat lacking.
In addition, another key theme of the play is that of the disparity between reality and appearance. All the gender roles that are assumed in the play, are performances (as modelled by Beatrice and Benedick with their war of words that hides deeper attractions). All the characters in the play are either deceived by others or take part in plots that deceive others.