My heart wants to judge this play by today’s standards, but to do so would be a discredit to the play as well as its author. Shakespeare was rather far sighted for his time which he helped to sculpt in society through theater. In this play specifically humor showcases his opinion at the traditional marriages of the time.
While Hero and Claudio are not the loving couple we might wish for in today’s society they are fortunate youths for the time. Hero marries a man whom is supposedly handsome, in good standing with a Prince, and a war hero. Though Claudio seems a bit of a brute he is unlikely to take her to far from her home as they will inherit her father’s estates. For many women of privilege during the time Claudio would be a catch. There is also the off chance that the accusations lobbied at Hero during their first wedding could have later tarnished her reputation if Claudio had not married her.
Claudio gets much more out of their union than Hero, but I suppose that is to be expected. Claudio will inherit Hero’s family land as her father and her uncle’s only heir. Claudio gains a supposedly beautiful maid whom he will be allowed to tarnish. As well as the stereotypical wife whom is likely to never raise her head above the finery of her clothes and the gossip of the time. So all in all both walk out of the play with what they wished to acquire in the beginning of the play. IF they are happy how can we as an audience be unsupportive?
As I spoke of what Claudio and Hero gained I suppose we can speak on what Beatrice and Benedict gained from their union. Benedict gained the dreaded wife he seemingly could not comprehend wanting. Now I am unsure of what Beatrice’s dowry and inheritance might be, so Benedict truly walks out of the play with little more than he walked in with. Beatrice gained the abhorrent husband with a beard (or at least we assume he has a beard). However, Benedict has the favor and friendship of a prince and other influential characters as well as being a war hero. Beatrice walks out in love as well as high standing. In this view it seems Hero and Claudio are the more fortunate pair.
Personally, I feel as if Beatrice and Benedict are a much more satisfying ending at least in a romantic aspect. Their love speaks clearly of equality and adoration. In almost any time period I feel their love would be much preferred. I wish we knew more about the feud between them at the beginning of the play. Their interactions speak of knowledge of one another. Their words while seemingly playful tend to be edged with a small blade of pain. Yet they still manage to (rather quickly) overcome their said hatred of the other and fall in love. I am glad we see them get together at the end. We even see them overcome the lies their friends told to get them together.
Again I wish we had seen more than the briefest of interactions between them as they discovered their friend betrayal. It is interesting that their written love is stolen and then presented to the other by the hands of Hero and Claudio. Claudio and Benedict had just come out of an argument and their friend ship had not seemed overly close from the beginning of the play. Hero and Beatrice are a more likely friendship as they are kinswomen and bedfellows. However, there is a certain distance between the two women from Hero’s earlier remarks upon Beatrice’s character that never gets resolved. Also, Hero who marries for image presents the mind of the traditionally women roles that Beatrice rejects. If there was anything I wished for at the ending of this play it would be more resolutions for the characters in their mistaken noting of each other’s words.