• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Analyse the way Beatrice and Benedick speak to and about each other, up to and including page 134

Free essay example:

Simon Johnson – 12B                04th October 2005

Analyse the way Beatrice and Benedick speak to and about each other, up to and including page 134

The characters Beatrice and Benedick in the William Shakespeare play “Much Ado About Nothing” can be described as sparring lovers.  At the start of the play, it is difficult for them to converse without becoming involved in a “merry war” or a “skirmish of wit”.  This attitude gradually changes as the play progresses.  I shall analyse the way in which this attitude changes as Beatrice and Benedick engage in parlance.  

        From Act One, Scene One, Beatrice demonstrates hypocrisy when to Benedick she says “I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor Benedick, nobody marks you”.  The ironic part of this is that she is actually listening to him.  Therefore, as much as she may like to deny it, she is giving the man she “detests” her undivided attention, and is noticing him.  Benedick, in a quick flash of wit answers back “What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?”  As Benedick asks Beatrice if she is living, it presents the witty assumption that Benedick has not been aware of Beatrice’s presence.  A very well-put reply to this from Beatrice is that “Disdain” can’t die whilst Benedick is there “feeding” it to carry on.  This battle of wit which occurs between the both of them illustrates the deep loathing that they appear to have for one another.  As we shall discover further on in the play, this seems only to be a guise for the immense passion they have for each other.  There is, here, however, a suggestion from Beatrice that both of them have had a relationship before: “You always end with a jade’s trick.  I know you of old”.  The aforementioned evidence of a possible relationship provides a reason for the skirmish of wit, and also implies there may still be romantic feelings between the two.  

        In Act Two, Scene One, Beatrice is dancing and having a conversation with a masked Benedick.  It is not clear, and remains the decision of the reader whether Beatrice truly knows that she is speaking with Benedick.  She goes on to describe him as “the prince’s jester, a very dull fool”.  As there is a sense of possession “the prince’s jester”, it creates the impression that Beatrice sees Benedick as nothing more than a puppet.  When speaking with Claudio, Benedick makes it clear he was shocked by this: “Lady Beatrice should know me, and not know me: the prince’s fool! Hah…” … “Every word stabs”.  Here, Shakespeare has used a dramatic device, ie: the masqued ball, and the inherent identity confusion to make Benedick believe that Beatrice had all along intended to speak ill of him.  It is for this reason that I believe that Beatrice knew full well that she was indeed speaking to Benedick.

        In Act Two, Scene Three, Benedick is successful tricked into thinking that Beatrice is in love with him.  However, this trick has not yet been carried out on Beatrice.  In the garden, Beatrice approaches Benedick and announces “I do spy some marks of love in her”.  This is ironic because there are none.  The passion she shows is one of hate for what she is about to say: “Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner”.  When asked by Benedick if she “takes pleasure in the message”, she says “Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s point” (ie: not at all).  Benedick has got completely the wrong end of the stick in his soliloquy: “there’s a double meaning in that”, and thinks that she does not want him to come in, but instead to stay out in the garden with her.  Hence, his going inside would not be a pleasurable message for her.  

However, this is an example of dramatic irony as we know this is not the case at all.  Shakespeare points out the truth beneath the character's surface, as well as using language as his tool to juxtapose these feelings, in effect, switching the meaning around so that the connotations are what illuminate the truth.  He is also able to use a technique to capture the truth beneath the surface of the characters. Everything that is spoken by the characters seems to have a deeper or double meaning under the words.

In Act Four, Scene One, Benedick declares his love for Beatrice.  He does this so she will call upon him to right Hero from the terrible injustice that recently occurred at the wedding scene.  He asks her if it seems strange that he loves her.  This is again an example of dramatic irony, because the audience knows that it’s not strange – she knows already that he loves her.  Beatrice, usually extremely able to articulate herself is strangely not able to here.  The use of commas and colons break up the following speech, as she is overcome by fierce emotions.  She is therefore not able to articulate anything but the fact that she feels sorry for her poor cousin who has been wronged.  “It were as possible for me to say, I loved nothing so well as you, but believe me not, and yet I lie not, I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing.” Beatrice, therefore equivocates here - being deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead or withhold information, ie: her love for Benedick.  This is particularly emphasised by the long sentence length.

        Benedick’s immediate rejection at the idea of killing Claudio “Not for the wide world!” elicits anger, and impatience in Beatrice who doesn’t wish to converse with Benedick any longer.  After much deliberation, knowing it will please Beatrice, Benedick agrees to “use” his hand “in some other way than swearing by it”.  In other words, he has agreed to engage Claudio in a duel.  Beatrice’s reason for wanting him killed is that “he is now as valiant as Hercules”.  This allusion to Hercules implies that Claudio has become too boastful, too big for his boots.  

        In conclusion, it’s clear to see how the attitude between the two changes, and the relationship progresses.  Shakespeare employs the use of juxtaposition to mask true feelings.  The best illustration of this juxtaposition masking is of the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick. Their incessant banter and wit-battles mask the true feelings each has for the other.

Page  of

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Much Ado About Nothing section.

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Related AS and A Level English Skills and Knowledge Essays

See our best essays

Related AS and A Level Much Ado About Nothing essays

  1. Shakespeare employs a wide range of literary techniques to define the characters of Beatrice ...

    During a conversation between Benedick, Claudio and Don Pedro, Benedick asserts "I will do myself the right to trust none: and the fine is (for which I go the finer) I will live as a bachelor" (1.1.181-182). Benedick puns on the words fine, meaning 'conclusion' and 'finer' denoting better.

  2. Compare the Representation of Women in Hamlet (primary text) and Much Ado About Nothing ...

    river, the church denies her a Christian burial on the grounds that she killed herself.

  1. Discuss in detail Shakespeare's presentation of women in Much Ado About Nothing

    The first time we hear Hero speak for herself is at the masked ball. However, it can be interpreted that Shakespeare uses this opportunity for Hero to hide behind a mask to grant her the freedom to speak for herself, and in normal circumstances this would not be the case.

  2. Explore to what extent, if any, Shakespeare presents Claudio to be an admirable character ...

    says how Claudio has become a 'fool' who 'dedicates his behaviours to love', showing he spends time with Claudio. Although Benedick's tone is mocking, it's clear, from Claudio's trust in him - confessing to him his love for Hero before any other - that they are good friends.


    This provides a lot of comedy to the audience, as he uses dramatic irony. However the watch also provide some laughs, when they hear the unveiling of Borachio's plan, Watchman 1, thinks there is a third member of gang, called Deformed, "I know that Deformed, a has been a vile thief."

  2. The dramatic importance of Benedick

    We find this amusing as Benedick is unaware that he is mocking himself. We do not simply admire Beatrice and Benedick for their confidence and strong minds but we admire them for the relationship between them. When Shakespeare unites them together the romantic tension between makes the audience feel great

  1. Beatrice says of herself that she was born to speak all mirth and no ...

    speak as many lines as men; she is witty and intelligent, having a powerful influence on the development of the plot. For this reason she comes across as being 'a free spirit' and equal to her male counterparts. Beatrice has more freedom than other women such as Hero as she

  2. Through comparing the relationship of Claudio and Hero with that of Beatrice and Benedick ...

    or the whore (to be discarded). Initially Hero seems to possess the qualities required for the successful advancement of a soldier?s career, being self possessed and silent. However as with Claudio, Hero?s youth and innocence is her downfall. She is shy, differential and rendered totally defenceless against Claudio?s public humiliation

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work