Basically, the Friar develops a scheme that involves concealing Hero’s existence. He asks Leonato, who is utterly distraught over the accusations made against his daughter, to tell everyone that Hero died of shock and grief. As he states, “The supposition of the lady’s death will quench the wonder of her infamy. And if it sort not well, you may conceal her, as best befits her wounded reputation, in some reclusive and religious life” (4.1.237-41). Thus, Friar Francis predicts that when the accusers hear that an innocent woman died, their anger will morph into regret. If this is the case, Hero can safely return to the world. If not, she can be quietly placed in the convent and become a nun. It seems as though Hero must be symbolically “reborn” in order to re-enter society. Friar Francis orders Hero, “Come lady, die to live. This wedding day perhaps is but prolonged. Have patience and endure” (4.1.253-54). This successfully exhibits the importance of a woman’s chastity, for Hero’s name must be cleaned in order for her to figuratively come back to life. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that it is Hero’s personal future on the line, she does not respond to the Friar’s suggestion, for it is Leonato who agrees to take his advice. He proclaims, “Being that I flow in grief, the smallest twine may lead me” (4.1.249-50). Again, this illustrates the inferiority of women. Hero is his property, and he has authority over any matter that concerns her.
It is interesting to note that Hero does not even attempt to angrily fight back against the allegations. She simply takes a submissive stance and does not try to prove her innocence. This portrays the idea that women were inferior to men, and that their opinions/words meant little. It makes me further question the significance and irony of Hero’s name. When I first looked at the names of the play’s characters, I originally guessed that Shakespeare might have named her in order to symbolize some sort of heroic behavior that she performs late in the play. However, she is certainly not a “hero;” she is docile and does not fight back. Therefore, I am guessing that the women in the audience probably did not view her as a feminine hero who rebels against patriarchal authority. Nevertheless, perhaps women did view her as heroic because she is intelligent, and strong, since she keeps her mouth shut? Since our society today is so different in terms of equality between men and women, it is hard to determine the reaction of Shakespeare’s female audience. Personally, I am alarmed that such a drastic plan has to be designed in order for Hero to be “permitted” back into her society. One of Shakespeare’s intentions of the play might have been to depict how significant patriarchal authority truly was in his society. Could he have been questioning the severity of this authority, or was he simply trying to illustrate a fact?