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HONOUR IN "MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING"

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Introduction

HONOUR IS SHAKESPEARE?S ?MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING? When we look closely at the romance of Beatrice and Benedick, we see the problems that a rational lover has in putting aside his concept of honour in order to love a woman and Shakespeare cleverly contrasts this relationship with our idealistic lover Claudio, who is incapable of rejecting the restrictions that honour places on a man. In a parallel construction we see through the relationship that the boorish Claudio has with the docile Hero that for love to flourish it must reject chivalric notions of honour. The social hierarchy of Messina, is a very class conscious one and being witty is almost a full time occupation for many of its inhabitants. Playing practical jokes and tricks upon each other is a subtle way of maintaining the strict codes of conduct and among the most successful and benevolent of the deceptions practised are the parallel practical jokes played on Beatrice and Benedick in order to trick each of them into admitting their love for one another. ...read more.

Middle

The repartee between Beatrice and Benedick is sometimes blunt and crude, sometimes elaborate and self conscious. Puns, similes, metaphors, and paradoxes are all brought into play in their continual game of mutual insults and it is this aggressive verbal battle which pushes Beatrice and Benedick to the foreground of the play. Being in love is a game for fools and Benedick vows to never be ?such a fool?. Benedick persuades himself that by staying away from Beatrice and denying himself any notions of marriage, he is a confirmed misogymist, that he is the stronger individual and has control over his life instead of living for another human being and risking becoming a hopelessly ?in love? lover. Benedick views women in society as somehow predatory, wanting to ?capture? a man and contain him in marriage, only to torture him with subsequent betrayal. However when faced with a woman such as Beatrice, who proclaims herself equally contemptuous of marriage and for the same reasons, Benedick?s ...read more.

Conclusion

For Beatrice and Benedick however, their jokes are the means whereby they can resist the kind of love-relationship exemplified by Hero and Claudio. In the end the ?happy-ending? which sees Hero married off to Claudio is one fraught with contradictions, for this conventional relationship, founded as it is on romantic love, which they exemplify, has been severely satirised by Shakespeare. By presenting the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick as real and not idealistic, we see the fragility of an idealised, romantic love such as the one Claudio has with Hero and its tendency to collapse into loathing and disgust becomes all too apparent. Appropriately the play ends not with Claudio and Hero whose strict adherence to an unbending code of honour temporarily fragments their relationship, but with Beatrice and Benedick who overcome both the male code of honour and society?s expectations to love and accept each other for their individual selves. There is a relationship built on mutual trust, respect and acceptance and proof that Love must be truthful to be sustained. ...read more.

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