Much Ado About Nothing

Conventional and Unconventional Heroines in "Much Ado about Nothing" 10th Grade

A central theme in "Much Ado about Nothing" is that of the literary tradition of a heroine within the social conventions surrounding women. The literary tradition of the time (and indeed, in many cases, up to the present day) bestows the conventional heroine with beauty, modesty and etiquette, submissive and obedient to men's will. Literary convention also presents the heroine with a variety of obstacles which, through no fault of her own, she is forced to overcome. Ultimately, she prevails and the Shakespearean tale typically ends with a joyful marriage ceremony, often an alliance between two families. However, modern literary tradition breeds the unconventional heroine, an independent, assertive and articulate young woman, overcoming prejudice and injustice. In "Much Ado About Nothing", Shakespeare presents us with both the Elizabethan conventional and (the more modern) unconventional heroine in Hero and Beatrice, using a variety of effective literary methods, to demonstrate the extreme differences in character.

Social expectations of women in Elizabethan society were that they should submit to their fathers' will, marry men of their fathers' choosing, often as a way of forming propitious family alliances, and remain...

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