Couldn’t be bothered to write an essay, but here’s a detailed PEEEIA (Point, Example, Explain, E-something, I-smth. etc.) I think.
P: Shakespeare uses cuckoldry in his plays to create humor and to set the tone, reflecting the hegemonic views of men in the Elizabethan era and their constant slighting and reification.
E: ‘But that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me.’
E: When Benedick exclaims that he ‘will have a recheat winded in [his] forehead’, he means a hunting horn- notes that are played while hunting. Therefore this places horns on the head of Benedick. Benedick believes that he will be made a cuckold, reflecting the prevalent fear of wife infidelity and the sort of jests that people made in the Elizabethan era. When Benedick also says he refuses to ‘hang [his] bugle in an invisible baldric’, he means that he will not hide his horn (referring to cuckoldry). This is a jeer at married men- he implies that they have to hide their suffering, for a cuckold’s horns are metaphors for the suffering of a man with an unfaithful wife.
E: Benedick’s adamant refusal and obstinate repulsion of the very notion of marriage, in addition to the jokes of cuckoldry he hurls his persuaders, shows us that he is fearful of shame: of having a wife that is unfaithful. This reflects the inequality of men and women- if men were unfaithful to their wife they would not be condemned. To assume that marriage will lead to the infidelity of a woman portrays the masculine view during that era, and brings to light the patriarchal society of that time. The nasty banter between men reminds the audience of men’s biggest fear of being sexually unfit. Cuckoldry is a prominent theme in Much Ado, especially with the false accusations of infidelity centered around the Hero-Claudio plot.
I: The general interpretation of Benedick ‘hanging [his] bugle in an invisible baldrick’ would be that he was mocking how married men had to furtively hide in shame if they had an disloyal wife. However, he could also be insinuating something else. The bugle could be a phallic symbol and the baldrick a codpiece (what men used to wear around their phallus, the bigger the more impressive). In that case, Benedick would have implied that whether or not he wanted to be joined to any in matrimony, he wouldn’t hide his sexuality or conceal is manliness (invisible baldrick). Codpieces were a symbol of a man’s masculinity and used to exaggerate their endowment and natural assets. This showed the hegemonic pride of men in that era.
A: The fascination of men in regards to assert their dominance and sexuality, coupled with the frequent use of cuckold jokes, reflect on Man’s misogynistic views and sheds light on the hegemony patriarchal society.