In worse. Since she is a woman they

In Elizabethan times, the expectations of daughters are reflected in the women of Shakespeare’s plays such as Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing. The women’s dependence on men is sadly clear. Specifically, how women and daughters are dependent on the father figures in their life. This dependency is shown greatly through the characters Ophelia and Hero. Shakespeare uses these two characters to reflect the social value of the era and expectations of England. Hamlet’s Ophelia is a very stereotypical young girl. She appears to know nothing of the world and simply follows the dominant males in her life. Her father, Polonius, believes her to be inexperienced in life, and that she only knows to be obedient. “Affection, puh! You speak like a green girl” (1.2.100-113). “Green” is used to describe one who is blind to the happenings of the world, and only concerned with issues that involve themselves. This is showing that Ophelia is thought to be a dreamer. Ophelia also is shown to be very vulnerable and gullible with her feelings as she puts her trust in Hamlet. Ophelia says to her father “He hath my lord of late made many tenders of his affection to me” (1.3.108). She believes her relationship with Hamlet is moving forward even though her father informs her of his doubts. Hamlet manipulates a lot of characters, but Ophelia is greatly taken advantage of. Hamlet uses her as a prop when he speaks “lady, shall I lie in your lap?” (3.2.103). When he wants love, he confides in Ophelia. However, when events require it, his mood and feelings towards Ophelia change sinister and cruel. Ophelia is treated as a possession by Polonius and Hamlet. Ophelia is merely there for whenever they need her for better or for worse. Since she is a woman they see her as an easy manipulative target. Even though Ophelia shouldn’t feel so strongly for Hamlet, it isn’t Polonius’ place to openly suppress Ophelia’s ideas and love. He uses patronising language to control her ideas. He jokingly calls her dearly throughout the play, which creates forced docility. This explains why Ophelia feels the need to let the men in her life control her. I believe Shakespeare is trying to bring awareness to this hierarchy of men. He had daughters of his own, so I believe this is why this topic is a strong element in his plays. Hero is similar to Ophelia’s behavior more at the beginning of Much Ado About Nothing. Hero seems to have the least amount of agency, or self-determination when it comes to choosing her life partner. Her father, Leonato, tells her, ‘Daughter, remember what I told you. If the Prince do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer’ (2.1. 66-67). This shows that Hero’s father is really in charge of choosing a husband for her; throughout the play he often negotiates with Claudio without her input or presence. On her wedding day, Hero laments, ‘God give me joy to wear it, for my heart is exceeding heavy’ (3.4.24-25). While the other main female, Beatrice, ┬árefuses to conform to societal norms. Beatrice tells her Uncle that she will not marry “till God make men of some other metal than earth” (2.1. 59-60). That’s an incredibly gutsy thing for an Elizabethan woman to say to a man. She continues to explain that she refuses to be “overmastered with a piece of valiant dust” (2.1, 61). She is bodily referring to men as dirt in those lines. As this is going on however, ┬áHero, is standing beside her during the entire conversation and says nothing. She can become a face without a voice, and Shakespeare makes this known by giving Hero only a single line in the first act. What was most upsetting about Hero however, was her complete submissiveness towards Claudio. He is physically violent towards her at their wedding for no reason, but alas she marries him later anyways. This proves the point again of women not having their own minds. Although Hero, unlike Ophelia does have some growth eventually with her character. Later at the masquerade dance, when Don Pedro asks Hero to walk with him, she responds, “So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing, I am yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away” (2.1. 88-90). Hero has flipped the gender roles through this response. Prior to this encounter, it had always been Hero who looked sweetly and said nothing. Now she has told Don Pedro that she is in control. She has placed them on equal footing.It is worthwhile to mention that Shakespeare portrays gender in interesting ways in his general body of work. He often writes characters who defy traditional gender roles in their personalities; many women in Shakespearean plays are strong, bold, and rational, while their male counterparts are often fearful and carried away by their emotions. These characteristics would have undermined the stereotypes about gender that were common in his time (and that sometimes persist today). However, this does not erase Shakespeare’s use of Ophelia and Hero as portrayals of young mindless women who blindly follow the men in their lives during the Elizabethan era.