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Essay on the Perfect Women of As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing

The Perfect Women of As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing

Rosalind and Beatrice, the principal female characters of Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing respectively, are the epitome of Shakespeare’s ideal woman. From these two characters, we can see personality traits and characteristics of what Shakespeare might have considered the perfect woman. Rosalind and Beatrice are characterized by their beauty, integrity, strength of character, intelligence, gaiety, seriousness, and warmth.

Shakespeare used Rosalind and Beatrice to portray his belief that the ideal woman is a woman of beauty. In the play As You Like It, poems were written to Rosalind by her lover Orlando praising her beauty and fairness. “All the pictures fairest lined are but black to Rosalind. Let no face be kept in mind but the fair of Rosalind.”1 Phebe, another female character in this play, had a crush on Rosalind when she was disguised as Ganymede, a young boy in the forest. Obviously, this love was merely physical; Phebe was just attracted to Rosalind’s good looks.

Beatrice is also a fair lady. Men were attracted to her, including Don Pedro, the prince of Arragon, who asked for her hand in marriage. Benedick, whom she married in the last scene, must have been attracted to Beatrice’s beauty as well, because he swore to himself that the woman he would choose would have to be fair (II, iii, 29-33).

Shakespeare’s ideal woman was one of integrity and strength of character as seen in Rosalind and Beatrice. Rosalind is virtuous. According to Monsieur Le Beau, a noble of the court in As You Like It, “… the people praise her for her virtues … ” (III, 284). Rosalind is described by Stanley Wells as “the full…

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Magill, Frank N., ed. “Much Ado About Nothing.” Masterplots Vol. VII. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Salem Press, 1949.

O’Connor, Evangeline M. Who’s Who and What’s What in Shakespeare. New York: Evangel Books, 1978.

Schoenbaum, S. As You Like It–An Outline-Guide to the Play. New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc., 1965.

Scott, Mark W., ed. “As You Like It.” Shakespeare Criticism. Vol. V. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Co., 1987.

Scott, Mark W., ed. “Much Ado About Nothing.” Shakespeare Criticism. Vol. VIII. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Co., 1989.

Shakespeare, William. The First Folio of Shakespeare: The Norton Facsimile. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1968.

Wells, Stanley. “William Shakespeare.” British Writers, Vol. I. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1979.

Gertrude: The Root of Evil in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

In Hamlet, a play by William Shakespeare, the driving forces seem, at first glance, to be greed and revenge. But if one delves more deeply, one will find motives other than these. If one asks oneself what is the main reason for revenge in the play they will find that there is a woman at the core of it. In the beginning of the play the audience learns that the king has died and later discovers that it was his brother Claudius who killed him. Besides his hunger for the crown, what else might have motivated him to kill his brother? The answer is the queen, whom he married barely a month after her husband’s death. The king himself admits this in his prayer, saying, “Of those effects for which I did the murder, my crown, mine own ambition, and my queen”(III.iii.57-58).

Hamlet’s actions also revolve around his mother. Superficially, his quest for revenge may seem only to be brought on by his love for his father, but this is not so. He is simultaneously angry with his mother, jealous of her attention to Claudius, and desperately wishing for her love. He berates her with sharp edged c…

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