Gender Roles in Much Ado About Nothing

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 900 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Words: 900|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Challenging Gender Roles in Much Ado About Nothing
  3. Much Ado About Nothing: Portrayal of Women
  4. Conclusion
  5. Works Cited


Theme of gender is one of the central themes in the play, highlighting the complexities of gender roles in Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare challenges the conventional role of women in a patriarchal society in which men must be dominant whereas women are the oppressed ones. In the play, Shakespeare creates Beatrice’s character in such an unusual way in order to overthrow the traditional role of women; silent, passive, gentle, and submissive. And by comparing her to Hero, the differences between the traditional and the ideal women are clearly represented. Double standards in gender roles are evident. In that period, reputation was the most important thing that a woman could have. In the play, Hero’s reputation was soiled by Don John. Her reputation was so smudged that she pretended as if she were dead in order to hide her embarrassment.

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Challenging Gender Roles in Much Ado About Nothing

When Borachio and Dohn John planned to pull a trick to ruin Cladiou’s wedding, they decide to stain Hero’s virtue since being virtious was everything that a woman could have in that period. Borachio pretended to have sex with Hero and as the result, everyone turned their back to Hero except Beatrice and Benedick who did not believe in Don John. On the other hand, Claudio, athough he was planning to marry, all of a sudden, he changed his mind since he believed that she is not a virgin. Claudius is there to represent a patriarchal society in which women were not allowed to have sexual relationship before marriage.

Moreover, he decided to humiliate her in front of everyone during the wedding day; ‘’O Hero! What a Hero hadst thou been If half thy outward graces had been placed. About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart! But fare thee well, most foul, most fair, farewell . Thou pure impiety and impious purity. For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love, And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang. To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm. And never shall it more be gracious’’ (IV.i.98-106). Claudio gives execution without due process because losing virginity meant losing innocence for him. From now on, Hero was a woman without honor ( Furthermore, even her father turned his back to her and wished her to die in order to get rid of the disgrace caused by her; ‘’Valuing of her-why she,O she, is fall’n. Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea Hath drops too few to wash her clean again, And salt too little which may season give To her foul tainted flash!’’ (IV.i.145-150).

Much Ado About Nothing: Portrayal of Women

Shakespeare presented two different female characters, Beatrice and Hero. In the play, Beatrice represents the untraditional women whereas Hero representing the ideal women in that period. Hero obeys the patriarchal rules of the society, obey her father, accepts Claudio even though she was not asked about it and even she agrees to marry Claudio after he publicly humiliated Beatrice is fesity, cynical, witty, and sharp but Hero is polite, quite, respectle and obedience (

Hero is the perfect woman who embraces the patriarchal society she lives in; She is pretty, has a high social status and her father’s only heir. However, she is an independent woman, she is so obedient to her father that even who she will marry is decided by her father; ‘’Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer’’ (II.i.53-55). Leonato tells her that if she is proposed by Don Pedro, she should accept even though she has feelings for Claudio. Also, when she was accused unjustly, she still behaves correctly according to the partiarchal society; ‘’Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide?’’ (IV)

Beatrice is a strong and independent woman who can survive all alone which is not suitable for a traditional woman. She clearly states that she needs no man in her life because she believes that no man is suitable for her; ‘’What should I do with him- dress him in my apparel and make him my witing gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man: and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man. I am not for him’’ (II.i.28-32). She explains her father why she must remain as an unmarried woman (

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In conclusion, Much Ado About Nothing reveals the inquality of gender roles in Elizabethan period. He creates Beatrice who is an untraditional woman in order to give balance to gender roles; Beatrice always challenges men in the play especially to Benedick and she manages to beat them through her intelligence. She is there to show that a woman can be independent from men. However, it is also seen that when she tried to defend Hero for being blamed unjustly, nobody listened her but they listened Claudio and Don Pedro. Also, the way women are treated in the play gives insight to the way women are used as objects in Elizabethan time.

Works Cited

  1. “Differences between Beatrice and Hero in Much Ado about Nothing.” Bartleby,
  2. “How does the character of Claudio portray the gender expectations of men back in the time when Shakespeare wrote Much Ado about Nothing?” eNotes, 25 May 2016, Accessed 27 Dec. 2018.
  3. Much Ado about Nothing Quotes.” SparkNotes,
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Gender Roles in Much Ado About Nothing. (2023, August 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Gender Roles in Much Ado About Nothing.” GradesFixer, 31 Aug. 2023,
Gender Roles in Much Ado About Nothing. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Gender Roles in Much Ado About Nothing [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 31 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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