Honour

HONOUR

Introduction

The value of personal pride and honour is an important theme. All the main characters have a strong sense of their own place in society, and their actions are driven by a need to preserve this status.

  • S portrays honour through men, and how bravery, reputation, honesty and trust can be altered by honour.

Male honour is directly linked with accomplishments in war. The messenger says that Claudio acted in the 'figure of a lamb, but in the feats of a lion'. This tells the audience that Claudio demonstrated great capability in war, and was therefore rewarded by Don Pedro who 'hath bestowed much honour [...] on Claudio'. This suggests that the braver you are in war, the more honour you recieve from those above you. The word 'lion' is also linked with deathless courage, fearlesness and loyalty, implying Claudio demonstrated all of these traits. The phrase 'figure of a lamb' also suggests that Claudio is not significantly physically impressive, which continues to emphasise male honour is not about appearance and is more about accomplishments in war. The word 'bestowed', tells the audience that Claudio earnt his honour and it was given to him for a reason by Don Pedro. This also suggests that honour can be placed by people of higher status to a man of a lower status, hinting that social status was not very prominent in terms of male honour, and the only key thing was if they were brave, fearless and courageous. The fact that we as an audience, are introduced to Claudio's reputation before him, tells us men are judged by their accomplishments and what they succeed in, and not in who they really are as people. This point is further emphasised through Beatrice when she asks the messenger 'how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars?', about Benedick. This shows the audience that Beatrice wants to judge Benedick on his achievments in the war. The word 'eaten' tells the audience that Beatrice is mocking war and and what men feel is important.

  • S also portrays honour through women, and how modesty, virginity and reputation can affect honour.

Shakespeare portrays this through showing how an ideal woman can gain honour. This is displayed by the…

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