TASK: these are all elements of the play that • present the theme of gender. • Benedick and Beatrice’s ‘merry war’; • Claudio’s discussions with Benedick about Hero; • Don Pedro and Borachio’s plotting against Claudio; • The revelation of Hero’s infidelity; • The resolution. • Each group is to take one point and complete the task below. • What does Shakespeare say about gender through these elements of the play? Write notes & compile a list of quotations that deal with each theme, ready to present to the rest of the group.
Gender and the role of fashion in MAAN • Men’s fashions had become more effeminate. • Some noblemen wore makeup, perfume, curled hair & wore a single earring. • The fashionable man also copied foreign • style – such extremes often meant that the Englishman was laughed at for his mixing of fashions (see A3S2 lines 24-30). • This was expensive & many noblemen accumulated debt, worrying some people. • Many think that the fashionable Count Claudio was based on Shakespeare’s patron the Earl of Southampton.
‘What a deformed thief fashion is’ The way you dressed was an indication of rank – people were forbidden by law from wearing fabrics belonging to a higher rank. Costumes for men & women distorted the natural human shape. Read A3S2 lines 1-54 – what does this change in Benedick appearance suggest? Where in the play does dress and costume take on a serious and symbolic significance? How does fashion link to the theme of illusion versus reality? Certain images recur throughout the play, most notably though, images of outward appearance, why do you think that it?