About Nothing Essay, Research Paper
The role of romantic love plays a central part in the plot of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The way in which each character embraces the emotion shows a great deal about who they are, as well as the time in which they lived. Love, as defined by Shakespeare’s characters, differs greatly from my own definition. However, the changeable nature of the emotion itself is what allows Claudio, Hero, Bene*censored*, and Beatrice to interact in a way that is both comical and entertaining.
Perhaps the most obvious of all the differences between my opinion of love and Shakespeare’s is the time frame in which 2 individuals grow to develop the emotion. This is most likely due to societal differences. During the time when Shakespeare was writing his plays, life expectancy was considerably shorter than it is today. For this reason, young people were expected to reach maturity at a much earlier age. Women were usually married well before the age of 20. By today’s standards, that seems a very young age to enter into such an adult commitment. However, since life itself was shorter, people had comparatively less time to meet a mate, fall in love, marry, and have children. In my opinion, with anywhere from 70 to 100 years to live, there is certainly no time limit set on falling in love. Likewise, marriage should not be a bond entered into in haste, since ideally, it should last for many decades.
To me, romantic love is an extremely powerful bond. Like a friendship, it takes time to develop. It is characterized by a desire to share every aspect of oneself, mind, body, and soul, with another person. The two people become best friends as well as lovers. For many, the ultimate result is marriage. In Much Ado About Nothing, there are 2 couples that exhibit what Shakespeare would consider to be romantic love: Claudio and Hero, and Bene*censored* and Beatrice. There is a large disparity in the way these people reveal their emotions. The differences help to distinguish each character and his personality.
The character of Claudio is written to be impulsive. His actions are not supported by a profundity in thought and are therefore rash and impetuous. Claudio falls in love with Hero without having so much as a conversation with her. He then falls quickly out of love when he believes her to be cheating on him. If Claudio truly loved Hero, he would cherish her as a human being rather than as that which he coveted. If his love for her was consistent with my definition, his trust in her would have caused him to doubt even his own eyes upon seeing her with another man. It would also cause him to seek out the truth, no matter how obvious it might seem. He should have had difficulty in believing that someone with whom he shared a piece of his soul could so easily deceive him. Instead of confronting Hero privately (which to me would have been the rational thing to do), he chooses to publicly humiliate her and bring shame to her father. Albeit these are not the actions of a rational person, they are necessary to convey the absurdity of the plot. I doubt Shakespeare was trying to achieve sincerity in any of his characters. If he had, Much Ado About Nothing would simply not have been funny.
The role of women in the time at which the play was written differs from that of today. As the submissive of the sexes, women were expected to do what men told them and not ask questions. Love allows a woman today to be an avid pursuer and to choose her partner. Hero is the epitome of the acquiescent woman. When her father, Leonato, tells her she is to marry Don Pedro, she agrees. When Leonato tells her she is to marry Claudio, she agrees. Hero seems to have no opinion on the matter whatsoever. In her case, it appears that love plays no role in marriage. The exaggeration of her character is also unreal, which furthers the comic absurdity of the play.
Arguably the most compelling of Shakespeare’s characters in Much Ado About Nothing, Bene*censored* and Beatrice exhibit a depth of thought and wit that the other characters lack. Their constant rude yet flirtatious banter shows a level of interaction unique to that couple. The barbs they throw that sting so effectively show how well they know each other. Because of this, their feelings bear a closer resemblance to what I believe to be true love. Love itself is a powerful emotion. To me, the only other emotion that comes close to conveying the same passion is hate. For this reason, the line separating the two is often confused. Beatrice and Bene*censored* are both compelled to each other in an irresistible way. Because both characters renounce love and the institute of marriage, they attribute this attraction to hate alone. When their friends finally trick them into thinking that each is in love with the other, both Beatrice and Bene*censored* are forced to examine the possibility of falling in love. Once this door has been opened, the two easily cross the line from hate into love. The foundation for their relationship is already established, which makes the transition natural.
In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare plays with the concept of romantic love and its effects on those who experience it. Although Shakespeare and I would probably disagree on many of the particulars, I would have to admit that his interpretation of the word allows for a comical and highly entertaining piece of work.