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Gender Issues:MacBeth & Much Ado About Nothing

4 Pages 918 Words

Gender issues are prevalent in Shakespeare’s plays Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth. Some of the key characteristics relevant to gender issues are masculinity, feminism, honor, bravery, and ambition. These issues will be examined through the dynamics of three couples, Hero and Claudio, Beatrice and Benedict, and Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. It is important to remember that these are two different genres of plays. Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy that satirically focuses on male-female relations. While Macbeth is a tragedy, which takes a serious tone where gender issues are subtly woven into the plot.
The first couple, Hero and Claudio, represent the 16th and 17th century Elizabethan norm in marriage. Claudio is the model of masculinity and a gullible romantic. Hero is the modest docile young woman. They seem to have the picture perfect expectations of marriage. This optimism combined with the cuckold fear of the times allows Claudio to be easily deceived into believing the fabricated story of Hero’s infidelity. Such an action is the ultimate betrayal to Claudio’s honor. Similarly, the public accusation made by Claudio is a black eye to the honor of Hero’s family. But in the end, Hero was the virtuous lady everyone wanted her to be. Hero and Claudio play the foil to the pessimistic couple, Beatrice and Benedict.
Beatrice and Benedict are the cynics of love and romance. Their attitudes and relationship often breaks from the gender norms. In the beginning of the play both preached that marriage is an institution not meant for either. Beatrice is a free and uninhibited strong female. She eventually consents to marriage after she expresses her objections to the traditional voiceless role of the woman in a relationship. Her constant verbal sparring with Benedict shows she will not be the typical apathetic female in the marriage. Benedict is a fanaticizer who becomes smitten with the idea of Beatrice being in lov...

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