What's so heroic about Hero?After being treated so miserably by Claudio, why in the world would Hero want this guy back?  Where is her self-respect?  I shake my head every time I read this. ...

What's so heroic about Hero?

After being treated so miserably by Claudio, why in the world would Hero want this guy back?  Where is her self-respect?  I shake my head every time I read this.  What is Shakespeare saying about women?

5 Answers | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I often wonder about the same thing in the case of Portia with Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice. He seems pretty callous to me, obviously wanting Portia because of her money and offering little to the marriage except perhaps being easy on the eye. What on earth is a witty, intelligent individual like Portia doing with someone like Bassanio, the creep?!

However, I wonder whether Claudio suffers a change from the rather selfish individual at the beginning of the play who wants a trophy wife to go along with his great military reputation. What he suffers in going through Hero's "funeral" perhaps changes his character into a deeper and more empathetic individual who is worthy of Hero.

rb1384's profile pic

rb1384 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Well, a rose by any other name, etc. Two things: I think that it's important to remember that women of Hero's class and time didn't have a whole lot to say about who they'd marry. Marriage was about real estate and lineage, not love and flowers. But Hero is essentially a foil to Beatrice: her innocence contrasts with Beatrice's worldliness. But the name itself may have been a sly wink - Shakespeare was certainly familiar with Marlowe's "Hero and Leander" and the myth it sprang from: in Greek mythology, Hero was a priestess to Aphrodite who was seduced by Leander, who convinced her that a virginal priestess to the goddess of love was an affront to the goddess herself. He swam the Hellespont each night to be with her using her lamp as a guide. One night, the wind blew out her lamp and he drowned. Of course (and here is the sly part), Aphrodite's priestesses were temple prostitutes. All for love, indeed.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Maybe she's heroic and named Hero because in the end, she wins?  She gets the guy?  Is that too modern a veiw on all this?  Personally, I would have cut bait and gone to a different part of the lake to find a better fish once he took off, but that's just me.  I find him too high maintainence to be bothered with...I prefer someone who makes up his mind about what he wants and sticks with it. 

malibrarian's profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I think it's her loyalty that is heroic, personally. She manages to remain steadfast and true to both of the men who betray her - Claudio and Leonato. Leonato's behavior at the wedding is horrific, reading it from a modern-day perspective. And yet Hero remains a dutiful daughter and, I would assume, a very good wife to Claudio.

Personally, speaking from a modern viewpoint, I think both Claudio and Leonato deserve to be drop-kicked down the church aisle after their abyssmal behavior at the wedding!

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Amen!!! I always wonder the same thing. I don't think Shakespeare is making any particular statement about women. I think he was just trying to bring harmony to all the "humours." I had a professor who said in Shakespeare's comedies, everybody gets married; in the tragedies, almost everybody dies.

We’ve answered 318,958 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question