Much Ado About Nothing

The Couple Doth Protest Too Much: Male Maturity in "Much Ado About Nothing" College

Elizabethan men are not entirely different from some modern men, especially when it comes to their views on marriage, love, and sex. Many men still continue the double standard of expecting their partners to be virginal while they themselves are free to be sexually experienced. And the concept of marriage as painful and confining is still prevalent, along with the romanticized ideals of love and its timelessness. In Much Ado About Nothing Benedick holds many of these views at the start of the play, but how he differs from the rest of the cast is his gradual shift in his views on women, and relationships, by the play’s end. Benedick shifts from playing the role of the misogynist womanizer with a silver tongue to, at the end of the play, being a love struck realist who not only respects Beatrice, but women as a whole, and proves this by agreeing to duel Claudio to “avenge” Hero and prove his loyalty to Beatrice. This fundamental change is brought about through a series of key scenes: the masked party, the staged conversation between Leonato, Claudio and Don Pedro, Claudio’s rejection of Hero at the wedding, and when Benedick vows to Beatrice that he will challenge Claudio.

At the start of the play, Benedick is self-impressed and...

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