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Analyse Act IV Scene I (Lines 148-247) of Much Ado About Nothing

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Introduction

Act IV Scene I - Lines 148-247 This extract depicts the immediate aftermath of Claudio's public shaming of Hero. A battle of egos ensues between Friar Francis and Leonato, who both think that their course of action is the best - Leonato through coarse, passionate revenge and Friar Francis through rational, logical planning. Shakespeare presents to us the balance of turn-taking between Francis and Leonato as a battle for dominance. Neither seems to make any ground over the other, until Friar Francis has an extended turn, after which Leonato's turns shorten. This illustrates Leonato's resignation and acceptance that the Friar's plan is the more worthy. In addition, Shakespeare uses shared lines, for example where Friar Francis suggests "Pause awhile" to show interruption in an attempt to gain power. Both the characters do this, but Friar Francis then manages to foil Leonato in his extended turn by talking in extremely long compound sentences - giving Leonato no chance to interrupt. The sentences used by both these pivotal characters tend to be declarative, as Shakespeare illustrates how they both give out a lot of information and make statements in order to quell the other. ...read more.

Middle

This is a very powerful way of displaying certainty and intention, and the use of the modal is Francis' extended turn plays a big part in him convincing Leonato. It is worth noting Benedick's involvement in this extract, as Shakespeare has turned the character from a passionate, witty joker into a serious, logical, and, to some degree, more mature man. We see this by the use of declaratives, and his logical approach, not too different to Francis'. He is also the first to guess (correctly) that the plot is the work of Don John - Benedick's intelligence is portrayed less in the language of wit and more in his understanding of the people around him. Benedick's attitude is another factor which Shakespeare uses to suggest that Leonato will change his mind. If even Benedick suggests a logical course of action, surely that must be more sensible? Throughout the extract we see a build-up of dramatic tension. The fact that the audience is complicit with Don John's plot creates a situation whereby the audience wishes to see Francis prevail - and that no rash action be taken. ...read more.

Conclusion

Here, he is showing that to regain her honour, Hero must perform a difficult task, and accept what has happened, and not let this destroy her. Shakespeare also makes use of the adverbial phrase "then shall [Claudio] mourn," indicating a change and the coming of a different time altogether. He seems confident that his plan will completely change Claudio, and provide Hero with a new lease of life - something that Shakespeare knew his audience would need as a conclusion. Finally, it is certainly worth looking at Hero's contribution. Although Shakespeare does not give her many lines here (or, indeed, in the play at all), he nevertheless make them highly emotionally charged. First of all, she makes an emotional appeal to her father with the possessive pronoun "my," as in "Oh my father." This is used to help Hero persuade Leonato. She then goes on with the imperative "prove you..." which is a direct challenge to Leonato, forcing him to act or feel shame. She finishes with the tripling of "refuse me, hate me, torture me," the tripling making the already emotive language very powerful as a tool for converting Leonato to the cause. ...read more.

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