Who is Hero’s hero?

During my reading of act four I was surprised how quickly Leonato changes his opinion of Hero’s virtue. His only daughter whom he loves and treasures so dearly he turns on her with only the word of three visiting men. He is angered and wishes death upon her to cover her shame before addressing her to see if the accusations hold any ground. Hero time and time again denies these accusations, telling the truth but having no way to official prove where she was at the hour she is completely shamed. She denies but because she is a woman the only proof needed to sully her reputation is a man’s word. However when Don Pedro attempts to bring in the name of the man who sullied her virtue Don John is quick to jump in to say “Fie, Fie, they are/ Not to be named, my lord, not to be spoke of/ there is not chastity enough in language/ without offence to utter them.” Saving his own ass and further besmirching Hero without cause. The crowd, including Leonato, does not seem concerned about the ruffian Hero has supposedly laid with but solely concerned with Hero’s vile acts.

Hero literally faints from the grief caused by all of these false accusations. When she awakes Leonato has only become increasingly shocked and angered. “Do not live, Hero, do not open thine eyes…why she, O she is fallen/ into a pit of ink, that the wide sea/hath drops too few to wash her clean again/and salt too little which may season give/ to her foul tainted flesh.” Some terribly harsh words to hear from your father knowing you have been falsely accused. Beatrice comes to her aid stating she has been her bedfellow for a whole year unfortunately not on the accused night. Leonato is convinced saying “would the two princes lie? And Claudio lie?” but does not listen to Hero’s truth.

The only two men in the scene that give Hero some credit are Benedick and the Friar. Benedick has just been delivered to love so this may allow him to see the good in people. Asking Leonato to have patience and to listen to advice the Friar gives. The Friar is able to formulate a plan fairly quickly and objectively by observing Hero, understanding she is genuinely effected and scorned. These two men are Hero’s heroes. The Friar by objectively viewing Hero’s despair as true and noting her virtue as fair. Benedick by not jumping to conclusions with his brethren and understanding Don John villainous spirits.


5 thoughts on “Who is Hero’s hero?

  1. Samantha Meyer

    I find it really interesting that you state Benedick as the hero of Hero because I hadn’t really thought of him that way. I completely agree with your comment that the Friar is the hero of Hero because he is able to see that she is innocent and take measures to try to prove her so, but I hadn’t totally thought about Benedick as her hero as well. I think that part of this stems from the fact that he was mainly performing his actions such as picking a fight with Claudio and defending Hero because it was something that Beatrice had either asked him to do or expected him to do because of their “love” for one another. But now that you have put it that way, I do somewhat see how Benedick could be seen as Hero’s hero. Also, I totally agree with your statements about Leonato. I felt as though it was out of character for him to abandon his daughter so quickly just based upon word and no physical proof that could be brought forth. In the past he had seemed so caring towards his daughter, but now this has brought out another side of him. You brought up some very interesting points here!

    1. Courtney Ann

      I agree with Samantha’s comment, it is interesting to see that Benedick is Hero’s hero during the scene of her accused fall from grace. He is the one that sort of has her back when the situation grows dire and outrageously out of hand when all of those around her have abandoned her. Whether it be out of compassion towards his love for Beatrice or because he is blessed due to the origins of his name, Benedick does become the sole benefactor for trying to clear Hero’s name by uncovering Don John, he is still a voice that allows the truth to be found by the end of the play. Great blog post and some really great thoughts about the scene!

  2. mcgovere1

    I feel the same way as you about Leonato immediately leaving his daughter’s side and deciding he is guilty. I felt so badly for Hero at this point. Not only is her future husband disgracing her name at was supposed to be her wedding day, but her own father believes she is something that she is not. I think Shakespeare shows better a better quality of women in this play. First of all, Hero is innocent and still pure and did not commit the sin they are all accusing her of. Second of all, one of the only people that come to her defense is Beatrice, another woman. Beatrice says that if she were a man she would kill Claudio… to me Hero’s hero is Beatrice.

  3. tarabutler93

    This is one of my least favorite scenes; I hate how quick Leonato is to side with another man over his own daughter. I had considered Leonato a likable character up until this point. Benedick’s willingness to defend Hero on Beatrice’s behalf, I think, really demonstrates his character arc and growth.

  4. brendantanner

    I think this scene really illustrates the harsh and unfair expectations of women in Shakespeare’s time. I’m sure that Claudio isn’t all pure and chaste himself, and the fact that her own father would murder her just on the accusation of having sex out of wedlock is ridiculous. It seems like something you’d see in biblical times, not in the time of Shakespeare. They don’t even give her a chance to redeem herself, and making the accusation publicly just makes him more of a dick.


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