Theme Of Honor In Much Ado About Nothing

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Humans are and always have been social beings. In the Stone Age, communal efforts were essential in ensuring survival. With this comes a concern for one’s public image, how others perceive him and his reputation. The English labeled this concept “honour” and incorporated it into their elaborate social hierarchy. Citizens were expected to follow a specific code of honor and morals, dictating what they can and cannot do. Shakespeare explores this regard for honor and its implications through a comedic lens in Much Ado About Nothing. He emphasizes the importance of maiden chastity in the plight of Hero, who is disgraced after accusations of a premarital affair. One’s sense of honor held notable significance in his era, but society is always evolving,…show more content…
Though people can still lose and damage their reputation, the lasting impact and consequences are less severe than in the Shakespearean era. Back then, a loss of honor was permanent. There was no way to redeem one’s self within a lifetime. After Hero is disgraced, Leonato exclaims, “Why she, O she, is fall’n / Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea / Hath drops too few to wash her clean again, / And salt too little which may season give / To her foul tainted flesh!,” lamenting that there is no possibility of cleansing her reputation, not even with all the resources in the world (Shakespeare 4.1.147-151). Now, however, the ideal of honor is “a lot more fluid,” with a possibility to change and “rebuild that honor” (Bishir). Although the process may be long and arduous, a person can slowly repair his reputation to a larger degree than previously possible by performing actions that contradict or counteract the offending incident. Because of this opportunity, a loss of honor is not as devastating as in Shakespeare’s time. One does not fall into nothingness if his reputation is compromised. This, however, does not mean honor no longer exists; people cannot go around doing whatever they please and expect to be forgiven easily. The process of reclaiming honor requires repeated repentance and redemption through reconciling with those who hold low his integrity. This possibility of restoring honor demonstrates that society has become more open to change and reconciliation, less rigid and confining. The gravity of honor and its loss has diminished in contemporary society because of an increased flexibility in repairing
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