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How Does Shakespeare Present Attitudes to Love and Marriage at the Beginning of the Play? Essay Sample

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How Does Shakespeare Present Attitudes to Love and Marriage at the Beginning of the Play? Essay Sample

The first signs of love and marriage coming into the play are started by Beatrice in act 1 scene 1 line 28. This is Beatrice’s first line in the play and the first thing she asks about is Benedict. Although it can be said in a very sarcastic manner by Beatrice it also shows her worries for Benedict and the first signs of love. She is obviously worried about Benedicks safety but tries not to show her real feelings by hiding them with her mock name of “Signor Mountanto”.

She continually talks about Benedick and his part in the war not even showing the slightest interest in any of the other soldiers. She does do it in a sarcastic mocking way but it is still only him she enquires about. Shakespeare shows us that there is a connection between Beatrice and Benedict by telling us through Leonato. In lines 41-42 we see that Leonato is use to this mocking of Benedick by Beatrice when he says “Faith, niece, you tax Signor Benedick too much; but he’ll be meet with you, I no doubt it not.” So letting us know that perhaps he is use to her talking about Benedick. Although he does tell us that Benedick does show the same interest in Beatrice as he says he will give the same back.

He also does it through Hero. When Beatrice calls Benedict “Signor Mountanto” it is only Hero who knows who Beatrice is talking about. This could be because Hero knows of Beatrice’s feelings for Benedick and yet knows how she tries to hide them with her wit. Shakespeare shows us that there is something to happen between these two characters but we don’t know what yet we can still feel a love interest from Beatrice to Benedict.

We see that Shakespeare has also presented love and marriage as a very separate manner for men. We see this when Don Pedro and the soldiers are welcomed by Leonato. In act one scene1 from line 92 we see that men almost expect women to be unfaithful and if a man gets with a lot of women he gets great respect. Like Benedict. It is known that Benedick has had a lot of women and so Shakespeare has shown him “as one of the lads” he is respected by all the men in the play for it and so this is perhaps why Beatrice mocks about Benedick; maybe she is jealous.

We later see that Benedick shows no interest in either love or marriage. When asked by Claudio what he thought about Hero his answer is that she is nothing to note. Here act one scene 1line 144 we see Shakespeare introducing a new attitude of love this time it is between Hero and Claudio. This love interest is different in that it is more of a fairy tale love. As this time Claudio and Hero do not know each other. Claudio’s attitudes of love are different he loves Hero just from her look. Shakespeare shows how love for men is based on looks and lifestyle of women. He presents this by showing how Claudio is in love with Hero just because she looks modest and sweet.

This again shows how it is different for the men in love and marriage than it is for women. We see that Claudio expects Hero to be “modest” i.e. sweet virginal. When it doesn’t matter if the man isn’t. It is also Claudio who chooses Hero and so he expects her to be in love with him.

Here we also see that Benedick is angry with Claudio for being in love. Benedick sees love as a weakening and shows no sign of getting married or falling in love. Although it is here that Benedick tells Claudio about his ideal women act one scene line 153-158. He is describing Beatrice and later on he even says that Beatrice is more beautiful. So it is here we see that Benedick does like Beatrice and it is possible that something may happen between them. It seems that they are both too proud to admit their feelings.

We see that Benedick has so thoughts about getting married but Don Pedro is more welcoming to the idea of Claudio getting married. Shakespeare almost presents Don Pedro as cupid. In that it is him who gets Claudio and Hero together. He shows this as a love and marriage that isn’t true and needs others to get it together like a fairy tale; where Don Pedro would be the “fairy godmother”.

We also see that Shakespeare shows marriage as something that doesn’t have to have a connection to love. We see this when Leonato tells Hero that if Don Pedro proposes she is to say yes. We again see the men taking control and it has nothing to do with personality or love. Hero is to do what she is told and that is to marry the prince she agrees even though it is not him she loves. This shows how women are presented as inferior and so it is the men who have to do everything for them.

There is an exception to this in this play though; this is Beatrice. She is very independent and Shakespeare shows who women are becoming more modern with their own thoughts of love and marriage and how they would like to be like men have the right to choose.

Although all these differences are in the start of the play there is also one similarity. That they all want to be loved and get married but by Shakespeare showing two different types of couples and thoughts he presents two different attitudes towards love and marriage. Hero and Claudio represent the traditional thoughts of love and marriage. That the women are choose by the men and so are inferior they have to look and be very sweet and modest. Benedick and Beatrice though represent the more modern view of love and marriage. This is that a women can have a say in who she marries and it is for love and personality not just looks.

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