In Much Ado About Nothing do men have more honor than women, or do the women have more honor than men?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I personally think it took a great deal of honor for Benedick to stay behind at the wedding with Beatrice and Hero, rather than leaving with Don Pedro and Claudio.  It would have been the "manly" thing to just leave and stick with his cronies.  Instead, he stays to see if Hero is okay (probably to make sure Leonato didn't do something horrible to her), and I don't believe he did this simply because of what he saw Beatrice do.  He may have done it partly out of love of Beatrice, but again, that shows his honor in choosing her over his war buddies.

I often wonder if Margaret knows what happened and kept her mouth shut, with regards to Hero's disgrace.  I've seen the play performed both ways - where Margaret IS at the wedding, but doesn't say anything out of fear of getting in trouble, and also where Margaret is NOT at the wedding and just has no clue as to what's going on.  I'd like to think she didn't know, but as close as she was to Hero, wouldn't she have figured out the mistaken identity and confessed to clear Hero's name?

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Messinian attitudes in regards to gender and honor are that men place value on honor and social rank. There is a "code" of expected behavior and action that will define them in honorable terms. Women, on the other hand, are expected to be yielding and accommodating of the men. Their honor is not defined by their own actions, but by the men in their lives by association.

In this play, Benedick and Beatrice are almost equally matched. Beatrice is not typical of the women of the time, in that she is not submissive, and has her own honor code. Beatrice typifies honor in her unconditional support of Hero's innocence. She does not need proof, she defends him based on her instincts and compassion. It is only after she has done this, does Benedick start to support Hero. In this way, Beatrice clearly showed a stronger sense of honor than Benedick.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Illustration of a paper plane soaring out of a book

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial