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A recent critical opinion about 'Much AdoAbout Nothing' is that Benedick and Beatrice are 'tricked into marriage against their hearts: without social pressure they would have remained unmarried'. Discuss

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Introduction

A recent critical opinion about 'Much Ado About Nothing' is that Benedick and Beatrice are 'tricked into marriage against their hearts: without social pressure they would have remained unmarried'. Do you agree that this is how Shakespeare presents their relationship? You should refer to at least two sequences. In his play 'Much Ado About Nothing', Shakespeare uses the characters of Benedick, Beatrice and Hero to present the social pressures faced by Elizabethans, both men and women, with regards to marriage. Hero, always the dutiful daughter, bows to the social pressure for women and consents to her father's instructions that she must accept a marriage proposal from Don Pedro, a man she hardly knows. Beatrice says of Hero in line 57, 'It is my cousin's duty to say "father as it please you"'. Her willingness to concede to her father's wishes show that her happiness is not as important as her father's will. In Elizabethan society it was the duty of a woman to continue the family line, increase the wealth of the family and give heirs and grandchildren; her wishes were not taken into account. Beatrice the orphan, on the other hand, does not face the same pressures from parents and has enough wealth to support herself, however she is not invincible to the force from her friends. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare has cleverly used this to show that the two characters declare their love privately, but the audience knows that they believe what they say with their hearts. This disproves the quote 'tricked into marriage against their hearts' used for the question and is further supported in Act 5 scene 4 when the characters' love is proven with letters that they have written to each other. The way in which Shakespeare has written the tricking scenes is a very clever method using praise which was relevant to Elizabethan society and is still relevant today. In order to convince Benedick of Beatrice's love, Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonarto praise Benedick and say how witty, valiant and proper he is. They present the view that Beatrice does not deserve Benedick and that she is wise, 'in every thing but loving Benedick' line 163 Act 2 Scene 3. This method of praising a man to make him realise how he acts has been well used and as we see in his soliloquy Benedick resolves to act and requite Beatrice's love. However, the tricking of Beatrice has also been cleverly written and used by Hero and Ursula. The ladies criticise Beatrice, 'her wit values itself so highly that all matter else seems weak' lines 53 - 54 act 3 scene 1, and the exchange in this scene makes her realise that she is 'condemned', line 108, for the way she talks and acts. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is then the turn of Benedick and Beatrice and the intentional overhearing plot is revealed. They declare to their audience that they have no great feelings towards the other but they are found to be lying when Claudio and Hero produce letters that Benedick and Beatrice have written to each other. 'come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take thee for pity' is Benedick's response in line 92 to which Beatrice replies, 'I would not deny you ; but, by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion' line 94. When asked, Benedick declares that he is happily married and that, 'man is a giddy thing' line 106. He then goes on to make peace with Claudio bringing the play to a happy conclusion. In response to the quote used in the question, I disagree that without social pressure the characters would have remained unmarried. It is made clear through the tricking of the two individuals that they had feelings towards the other which they were not prepared to act upon without proof. It could be thought that they would have remained unmarried without the intervention of the friends, but others might be able to see that it would just have taken a longer time. The letters presented at the end of the play back up the view that Benedick and Beatrice's hearts were well and truly in the marriage, and many would argue that it could not be said to be otherwise. ...read more.

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