Essay Sample: Marriage Analysis in Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing

Published: 2022-04-27
Essay Sample: Marriage Analysis in Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing
Type of paper:  Literature review
Categories:  Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet Dramatic literature
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 2063 words
18 min read

William Shakespeare was an English poet and a playwright profoundly known for his unique style of writing and integrating the themes of love and tragedy into his works. Some of his famous plays include Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, and Othello. In the works of Shakespeare, love and romance are often presented in ambiguous ways that yet share some similarity in content or perspective. One of the exciting presentation of love in Shakespearean plays is that he offers love as a non-perfect part of the human make-up, and it is because of this that he portrays it as a force of nature and something that is uneasy. Romeo and Juliet is one of the most celebrated love stories, and it is because Shakespeare treated love in this play as not only a revelation but also a curse, and it is because of this that the beautiful love story ended in a heartless tragedy with the demise of the protagonists. Much Ado about Nothing is also a love story but with a comical plot and a merry ending. The two stories highlight different points-of-view that the author offered while exploring a similar theme. The differences and similarities are encountered in different scenes that Shakespeare developed to create the intensity of romance that makes the plays extraordinary. The paper will assess and discuss the similarities and differences between the two plays Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing by comparing Act 2 scene 2 and Act 4 scene 1 respectively by explicitly addressing how each of these scenes discusses and present the idea of marriage.

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Summary of the Scenes

Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 2

This scene is also commonly known as the balcony scene. The scene starts with Romeo standing in the shadows under Juliet's bedroom window. Juliet the appears on the balcony on the thoughts that she is by herself, and this is revealed in her soliloquy where she confesses to her love for Romeo. She admits of her despair over the dispute between her family and Romeo's and the challenges that have accompanied the feud. In the meantime, Romeo listens until Juliet calls his when he steps out of the darkness referring to her as his lover. The two express their devotion to each other before the Nurse calls Juliet. Upon her return, the two lovers vow to marry each other on the promise that Juliet would send a messenger the following day so that Romeo can update her on the wedding arrangements. The scene comes to an end as Romeo leaves to meet Friar Laurence and ask him for advice.

Much Ado about Nothing Act 4 Scene 1

The scene starts with people at the church and Leonato suggesting that Friar Francis should use a short wedding to marry Hero and Claudio. When the Friar asks Claudio if he was going to marry Hero, Claudio responds by denying the accusation, of which Leonato thinks is a joke and explains to Claudio that the Friar is marrying Claudio to Hero. The Friar then asks Leonato to take Hero back because she's a 'rotten orange.' In the questioning of Hero and Leonato, Claudio mentioned that he comprehends that Hero is unchaste and then rejects her. Hero faints while her father stumbles beneath the accusations and the three gentlemen leave. Unexpectedly, Leonato accepts the accusations made by Claudio and his friends against Hero and wishes that both Hero and he would die. Beatrice, Benedick, Leonato along with the Friar seek to understand the events that have happened, and they start to suspect that it is Don John who started the accusation. So the three fake Hero's death, as this will make Claudio remorseful and grant them an opportunity to understand the truth. When Benedick and Beatrice are left by themselves, they confess their love to each other and Beatrice asks Benedick to avenge the wrong done to Hero and he accepts to challenge Claudio.

Shakespeare on Marriage

In several works of Shakespeare, marriage is portrayed as an idea that is impossible, a tragic event that never ends well. His perspective towards marriage is bleak, and they either start or are always characterized by tragedy. Despite the fact that marriage is ubiquitous in every play by Shakespeare, critics observe that marriage was undoubtedly the primary concern of at least Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing (Dolan, 2011). Nevertheless, marriage in most of Shakespeare's plays suggests that it is in an act that may be cruel, but in other plays like Much Ado about Nothing, the author moderated this by using comic effect by the conclusion of the play. Scholars however disagree that based on plays like Romeo and Juliet, it is impossible to indicate that the plays endorsed the concept of marriage, and if by any chance they did, then the plays only portrayed marriage and love as something with a bitter end (Wilson, 2006). It is argued that Shakespeare may have been representing the Elizabethan period where many women were put in an awkward position of being forced into marriages (Wilson, 2006). Therefore, this plays a crucial role in understanding the similarities and difference between the two plays in the discussion.

Similarities Concerning Marriage

The one key theme in these two scenes is the desire for marriage is more evident from the women than it is from the men. In Romeo and Juliet, though the scene starts with Romeo seeking to see Juliet, it is the lady who openly shows the desire to be married to her lover Romeo. In the soliloquy, she calls upon Romeo wishing that he would deny his family and change his name, and even if this is too much to ask then at least, he can swear that he loves her and she will denounce being a Capulet (Shakespeare (b), 2003). This in a way indicates the point that though the two characters are in love, it is the lady who is much interested in the marriage the man. Additionally, when assessing the soliloquies between the two, Romeo only mentions the intimacy between the two of them and does not hint his intentions of marriage. However, Juliet does not hide the fact that she is willing to be married to Romeo.

The same is evident in Much Ado about Nothing. At the beginning of the scene, Leonato, Hero's father, is the one that pushes for his daughter to get married to Claudio. This is much more of an arranged marriage than being a state pursued by the man. Besides, just like in the play Romeo and Juliet, the idea of marriage weighs more on the mind of the lady than the man. This is evident in the fact that when Claudio is told that he is to marry Hero, he quickly declines the idea. When the Friar asks Claudio if he has come to marry Hero, he rejects. However, when Friar Francis ask Hero, she eagerly accepts to accept Claudio's hand in marriage. In analyzing the two scenes, they both portray marriage as something of a big deal to the women than it is to men. Juliet and Hero, are the same when it comes to how they understand marriage. They both portray the idea that women were more desperate for marriage and would go to great lengths to make sure that they are married to the love of their lives.

Additionally, the family also plays a crucial role when it comes to marriage. When Juliet was confessing her love for Romeo in the soliloquy, she indicated that she would have wished for Romeo to denounce his family and his name so that they can be married. This shows that the opinion of the family played an integral role in their marriage, and if the family declined their relationship then they would face challenges in being together. The same events are underlined in the play Much Ado about Nothing when Leonato, Heroes' father intervenes for her daughter to be married to Claudio. These events indicate the significance of family members and how they influence the choice of spouses and the direction of marriage.

Difference Concerning Marriage

Irrespective of the highlighted similarities regarding the core theme in the scenes from the two plays, there are also dissimilarities setting the scenes apart. The first is the male attitude towards love. In Romeo and Juliet, the man is willing wholeheartedly to be married to the lady, and he is willing to do anything that it takes to ensure that this happens. The intimacy and desire for marriage is shared among both parties. In their communication, the author indicates a genuine and mature understanding of marriage, where both the man and the woman understand the risks that come with this magnitude of intimacy. It is because of this that when Juliet proposes that they should be married, Romeo easily accepts the offer to be her husband soon. Therefore, marriage in this scene is something more desirable that it appears to be their only source of freedom from the family that might be the only challenge who will not accept their matrimony.

The scene in Much Ado about Nothing is on the contrary to the one in the other play in the sense that the perspective of the parties is somewhat immature, especially from the man's point of view. Both Claudio and Hero are in the church for their wedding ceremony, but it appears that it is only the lady who has her mind set ready for this form of intimacy. When the Friar asks if any of them has an impediment why they should not get married, Hero dismisses from her standpoint that there is nothing, illustrating her willingness to get married. On the contrary and unlike Romeo, Claudio rejects Hero from what his peers told him concerning her. This points to an integral fact that sets the two scenes apart. In act 4 scene 1 of Much Ado about Nothing, marriage is portrayed as a liability. It is because of this that Claudio strongly rejects Hero and laments that these are the things that men do daily without realizing what they are doing, or rather what they are getting themselves into (Shakespeare (a), 2003). The character imagines marriage as a mistake that men should not commit because he believes that woman is a cunning sin who would bring her nothing but unhappiness. Therefore, marriage in this scene is not something desirable but a path that leads to misery.

Additionally, the scene in Much Ado about Nothing highlights the idea that the family is always willing to ensure that the marriage works, which is not the same case in Romeo and Juliet, where the only thing coming between their opportunity to be married are their families. Families in both scenes play different roles in how they perceive the marriage between the lovers. Romeo's family as well as Juliet's are not okay with the idea of the two lovers being together and would go to any lengths to ensure that the two individuals do not end up together. It is because of this that Juliet wishes that both of them would denounce their families so that they can be together. In the case of Claudio and Hero, on the other hand, shows that families also play a key role in ensuring that the marriage works. It is for this reason that Leonato strongly wants Claudio to marry his daughter, and when this fails, Beatrice and Benedick swear to do whatever it takes to ensure that Claudio finally marries Hero. The differing perspectives all play an integral role in defining the marriages and the outcomes.


The two scenes from Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing present marriage from a similar yet differed outlook. Marriage in the plays are shown as an integral point of an intimate relationship often adored most by women than the men. As it is evident from the plays, the topic or idea of marriage was first associated with the women in the plays. The men, on the other hand, had varying opinions as Romeo saw it as an opportunity to be with Juliet while Claudio believed that it would be a mistake to have Hero as his wife. The families in these two scenes offer insight on their roles as well. In Romeo and Juliet, the family was the problem, while in Much Ado about Nothing, family and friends were the support system ensuring that the...

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