Masculinity In William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing

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Today’s ever-progressive society is constantly updating the standards of all sorts of intangible, subjective ideals like love and what makes a man “masculine.” Although Shakespeare lived in the times where those ideas seemed to be pretty concrete and easily judged, his romantic comedies like Much Ado About Nothing challenged the standards of his time and paved the way for a more open-minded attitude towards these ideals. In this play full of trickery, farces and plenty of malapropisms, Shakespeare sends the character Benedick through a whirlwind of comedic situations that are finally resolved when he sacrifices his argumentative, “masculine” behavior and critical view of the world in favor of becoming whole through love because he, deep down, just wants to love and be loved in return- regardless of how “manly” he appears to be. Benedick values and cherishes those close to him, which allows him to renounce his bachelor ways and become a better man and lover because of it.
At the beginning of the play, Benedick blindly acts in accordance to the “masculinity” he was raised to have without a second thought. His idea of what makes up a man does not exist independently from what makes up “masculinity.” Benedick believes that in order to be a real man, he has to be in control of himself and others- both physically and emotionally. He participated from the war, having been a soldier, which relied on his physical dominance to survive. As the dangers to his physical well being
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