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With Close Reference to the Text, Explore Shakespeare's Presentation of Social Conventions in the Play. (Much Ado About Nothing)

  • Date Submitted: 11/22/2010 11:36 AM
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With close reference to the text, explore Shakespeare’s presentation of social conventions in the play.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Hero’s defamation is the pivotal point of the plot in this “comedy”. Hero is a character who is talked about more in the play than has spoken herself; she is the embodiment of the silent woman.
The early 19th century critic William Hazlitt was a great admirer of Hero’s strong will. In his book “Characters of Shakespeare’s plays” in 1817 writing about Much Ado he noted that “The justification of Hero in the end, and her restoration to the confidence and the arms or her lover, is brought about by one of those temporary consignments to the grave of which Shakespeare seems to have been found”. In other words Hazlitt is saying Hero’s reputation is restored by temporarily killing her off. He suggested that Shakespeare explained the theory of his favourite plot twist in the crucial speech of the friar in Act 4 Scene 1 Lines 224-240.
These lines show that when Hero dies, she will be forgiven:
“She dying, as it must be so maintained,
Upon the instant that she was accused,
Shall be lamented, pitied, and excused
Of every hearer. For it so falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,
Why then we rack the value, then we find.”
Borachio’s plan to frame Hero is a success, however, the language of the resurrection scene on Act 5 Scene 4 suggests that Claudio will be marrying a dead woman, in contrast to the light mood of the comedy. Hero is now a shadow of her forms self and this is implied by the past tense. She uses to Claudio “When I live I was your other wife; And when you loved, you were my other husband” and by the present tense in Don Pedro’s words “The former Hero, the Hero that is dead” on line 66. Hero is resurrected at the end of the play only when her reputation is restored at the cost of her fictitious death. She was robbed of the right to defend her reputation. Social...

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