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I have analyzed a quote from the play Much Ado About Nothing with the question, "How is reputation shown in the play?"

Leonato is a king and does not want his reputation to be ruined due to the awful acts of Hero. This is shown through the quote, "here point a dagger into me". Shakespeare uses "dagger" to show how he wanted to kill himself when his reputation was ruined. This is because if a king had a bad reputation people would hate him and no one would follow him. The audience understands how reputation was important to Leonato as a king.

Can someone please give me feedback on this analysis? Thank you.

  • Leonato is not a king. His title is "governor", and his town is fairly small. I believe you'd do better looking at it in terms of his relationship to his daughter: reputation does play into it but his fatherhood is at least as important as his political position. – Joshua Engel Aug 4 '17 at 15:25
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    It might help to have more information about this reading. Asking "how is reputation shown" could be interpreted as asking "how do the British denote social status." Also, a dagger is often associated with backstabbing, that is, betrayal. – Ralph Crown Aug 4 '17 at 19:43
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First off, if you are going to quote, quote accurately:

Hath no mans dagger here a point for me? (F1)

F1’s question mark at the end of this line seems to make better sense than Q1’s period, though that period may be validly suggestive regarding manner of oral delivery. Adding an apostrophe to make it “man’s” is a routine emendation for a modern editor.

Second, the quotation implies a death wish on Leonato’s part, possibly hyperbolically, but only its context connects this with reputation at all.

Third, to the extent that Leonato is preferring death to disrepute, one can be a bit more specific about how he prefers to be reputed: as one who firmly and effectively controls the sexuality of the women in his family, that being the crux of masculine honor under patriarchy. Since his role as governor is as surrogate or viceregent for the king, itself a masculine role that is all about honor, his authority and ability to lead will indeed suffer, as you suspect, if his reputation suffers in this respect.

Fourth, remember that Hero’s supposed unchastity is merely that, supposed. The attentive portion of the audience is aware, as Leonato is not, that she has been framed here.

  • The OP may be quoting from a translation and translating it back into modern English. – Ralph Crown Aug 4 '17 at 19:26

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