In the play “Much ado about nothing”, the gendered roles the characters play to establish and defend their honour are entirely different. It is seen that a woman’s honour is closely linked to a man’s honour; many aspects of a woman’s behaviour affect a man’s honour. In Patriarchal societies, the men’s loyalties are governed by conventional code of honour, fighting in battles, friendship and a sense of superiority to women; while women keep their honour by remaining pure, being modest and keeping a high reputation of being virtuous. In this play, it is seen that a highly regarding aspect of a women’s honour is that of being a virgin and remaining faithful within a marriage, this is an important aspect as it affects both the man’s and the woman’s reputation.
In the beginning of the play, the young Florentine Claudio is introduced to the reader as being a soldier of great honour for his conduct in his recent battles for his country; “I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio” (1.1. 8-10). This shows the reader that the men in this play can establish honour for fighting and being successful in war. In this scene, it is also shown that men must defend their honour by being faithful to their allegiances. “I charge thee on thy allegiance” (1.1. 189). This is evident when Don Pedro charges Benedick on this allegiance while conversing about Claudio’s love for Hero; “And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine” (1.1. 206-207).
In the first act while Claudio discusses his love for Hero; Hero appears to be a woman of great honour and poise due to the fact that she is seen to be a modest young lady whose father is the governor of Messina (1.1. 150). This shows one that women also gain honour from being in a family of high hierarchy (1.1. 147-149) and also from being attractive (1.1. 171-172).
Beatrice is seen to be the complete opposite of Hero and gains her honour by acting in a way that is completely opposite to...