Will men and women differ in their responses to "Sigh no more, ladies," in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing?If so, will they differ a lot or a little?

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malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That is an excellent question!  I've read this play (Much Ado About Nothing) multiple times, directed it once, and watched the Branagh movie version of it too many times to count, and everytime I read or hear this song from Act II, scene 3, I wonder if the men who hear this are offended by the words!

It is clearly telling women not to worry about the antics and insanities of men.  Don't sit around crying because men are so inconstant - they're just like the ocean, never staying still for any length of time.  But interestingly, Shakespeare has a man sing the song - Balthasar, one of Don Pedro's men.  And he's singing it for the Prince and a group of men...Why?  Perhaps that would be a good question for the discussion boards.

At any rate, my opinion is that most definitely, men and women are going to react differently to this poem.  But it may not be exactly the reactions you would expect.  Some women will say, "Darn right, that's exactly how men are, and there's no sense in crying over them," while some women will rush to men's defense.  And at the same time some men might think, "Hey, that's really stupid, we're not all like that," while some men may say, "You know, Shakespeare had a point!"  My point, personally, is that it would be difficult to say that just men and women are going to react differently from one another - human beings as a whole are going to react differently, depending on their personal experiences.