Performing Patriarchy in Much Ado About Nothing

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This article aims to restore the pairing of Claudio and Hero to prominence. The positioning of Hero by Claudio and the play’s other powerful men is central to the plotline, especially in terms of the “nothing” of Hero’s supposed sexual incontinence, as well as being dramatically pivotal to the play’s meanings and structure. The fact that the scene is absent from the play underscores the crucial symbolic importance of the role of Hero to the patriarchal system, drawing attention to the ways in which her function needs to be noted and understood. The analysis undertaken here therefore redresses the balance, since the pairing of Beatrice and Benedick seems so much more alive to modern sensibilities. This article argues that the reason for this lies in their seeming attractiveness as characters who are more easily recuperated to a historically later form of patriarchy from Shakespeare’s period, one that resonates powerfully with the rise of individualism to elevate them over Hero and Claudio.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-30
Number of pages14
JournalGender Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Shakespeare
  • characterisation
  • homosocial
  • patriarchy
  • performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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