Much Ado – Context

Setting 16th century Messina, ItalyWritten in late 16th century/Tudor/Elizabethan era
Contextual issue: Gender Patriarchal society – paternal influence ruled and fathers as figures of authorityFemale conventions – depicted as having enjoyment from gossiping and eavesdroppingIdolisation and objectification of females – often viewed as promiscuous (cuckolding)Challenged by Beatrice
Male Honour and Repuation Linked to male friendship, loyalty and militaryTarnished honour of cuckoldingAble to protect honour through denunciation and social disgracing
Female Honour and Reputation Chastity aligned with virginityCould not defend honour if ruinedImplications of loss of honour on social standing of family – disgrace
Traditions and customs Courtly love/courtshipPastoral traditions – countryside pursuitsMarriage as symbol of order and harmony – conventional ending to Elizabethan comedyClassical and biblical references/allusions – no direct references to God because of ban by Lord Chamberlain
Hierarchy Importance of honour and reputation – especially to higher-class members of societyPlay flatters concept of aristocracy/high society/noblemen – for practical purpose of being performed often at court
Stereotypes Illegitimacy considered to birth evil – Don JohnLow-class characters depicted as naive – inclusion of these was to include lower-class audiences
Comedy/comedic effect Dramatic ironyWitty love/conflict relationship between Benedick and BeatriceLower-class characters (Dogberry and Verges) – malapropism
Gulling Gulling of Benedick – Act 2, Sc 3ProseGulling of Beatrice – Act 3, Sc 1Blank verse – more romanticised which replicates idealisation of women
Denouement Comic resolution – order restored as symbolised through marriage