Graduate Review


I have chosen to include this line “There’s a double meaning in that” (spoken by Benedick in Act 2 scene 3) in the title of this analysis as a way of introducing the play’s two heroines: Hero and Beatrice, and my argument that these women’s names at once symbolically exemplify and ironically contrast with their characters’ natures. While referring to scholarship on Shakesperean names, allegory, and societal and gender roles, I will consider the meaning of these names—Hero meaning “hero” and Beatrice meaning “blessed” or “blessing”—and examine the ways that these characters define and are defined by heroism, blessing, and womanhood. Moreover, I will argue that as these characters are so closely knit and supportive of each other, they define and are defined by each other’s names as well as their own. Although I will be focusing on these women, I will also refer to Benedick—whose name can also be translated as “blessed”—and his noteworthy decision to advocate for these women when they find themselves at odds with a male-led society. Ultimately, I will conclude that both Hero and Beatrice are as cursed as they are blessed, as heroic as they are victimized by circumstance, and that these loving and supportive cousins help each other to find happiness by making the most of their name-given, definitive strengths.



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