After completing the play I was left with an unsatisfied feeling toward the character Hero. I wondered why Shakespeare created other amazing women in his plays such as Hermia, Helena and Beatrice yet leaves nothing to desire in weak and meek Hero. Does she reflect the typical women of Shakespeare's society? Hero bored me to tears and I wondered why Claudio was even interested in her. I assume he was interested in her because of her father's wealth and the fact that he has no male heir. Perhaps Claudio feels he can control both Hero and the finances. Also, Claudio doesn't seem too dedicated to Hero when he accuses her of unfaithfulness and rejects her stating in Scene Four, Act One lines 98-106:
“O Hero! What a Hero hadst thou been
If half thy outward graces had been placed
About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!
But fare thee well, most foul, most fair, farewell
Thou pure impiety and impious purity.
For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be gracious.”
I couldn't imagine a crueler way to dump someone than this speech he has made to Hero in front of her Father, the Friar and others. He betrays her further when he agrees to marry her “cousin” after he was made to feel guilty about causing her death. Does Hero have no dignity to stand up and reject him for his behavior? I guess not because she marries him at the end of the play.
In several scenes Hero was present but didn't say a word. I wonder how that appeared on stage... Throughout the play we barely hear Hero especially when it came to incidents that involved her reputation. Regarding the accusation about her maidenhood, I expected more of a fight for her honor but instead she just passes out when accused. I didn't blame Claudio for not believing her. It was so frustrating when she doesn't vocalize her rejection and ask for proof of her behavior. I felt that her cousin Beatrice was disappointed by her behavior stating “Why, how now, cousin, wherefore sink you down” (4.1.108). I picture Beatrice looking down at Hero thinking “You have no idea how bad you look on the floor.” Beatrice was more proactive in defending Hero's honor when she asks Benedick to “Kill Claudio” (4.1.287). She also shows how cunning she is when she uses the newly discovered love from Benedick to quickly make her request. It seemed as though every one was doing everything for Hero and she didn't seem grateful for any of it. Although the play ended well, with Claudio getting his girl, I realize that Hero is intended to represent the reality of what women were like in Shakespeare's time. There were far more Heros than Beatrices.