Hero is Leonato’s daughter, Beatrice’s cousin, Antonio’s niece, and the beloved (and slandered) fiancée of Claudio. She’s a gentle, loving girl who doesn’t have much of a backbone, but doesn’t have much of a mean-streak either. Though she is supposed to be the female lead of the play, Hero has the fewest lines of the four primary characters. Her defining characteristic is that she’s always reacting to the actions and commands of others, and is rarely the agent of action herself. Interestingly, Hero’s little actions and words within the play show that she has some willfulness and sass in her, but she expresses this side of herself infrequently because she gives so many of her big decisions over to other people.
Most notable about her is what she doesn’t say. When Claudio denounces her publicly at her wedding, she doesn’t defend herself violently enough to inspire anyone to really question Claudio’s claims. She is reasonably shocked by the accusation, but her sweet nature prevents her from pointing out that Claudio has been gullible before, and is likely deceived in this venture as well. Further, when the whole Don John affair (part two) is cleared up, she happily accepts Claudio again as her husband, even though she’s already witnessed his rash wrath. She could’ve pointed out that Claudio was an idiot and really owes her an apology, but instead she speaks in abstracts about how she lives again now that her name is cleared.
Hero is the idyllic version of a sweet and innocent girl who is wronged in love, but somehow finds the power to overcome that wrong and love again. She isn’t vulnerable emotionally, just vulnerable to circumstance. Besides her sweetness (and her willingness to roll over when commanded), she doesn’t have many distinguishing characteristics. She is not fully fleshed out, and though we hear of her apprehension about getting married (in one line), we don’t ever hear any of her intense personal struggles or challenges. As a result, Hero’s character ends up being a bit of a one-dimensional good girl.