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Analysis of Shakespeare's presentation of Act 1 and how these foundations are used in the development of the rest of the play.

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Analysis of Shakespeare's presentation of Act 1 and how these foundations are used in the development of the rest of the play. The setting for the play is jovial and it appears to be a beautiful haven. The four characters are in an orchard, which Shakespeare has used as a device to suggest symbols of nature, beauty, procreation, marriage and abundance. There is also the description of honey suckle, often associated with perfume, romance and sensuality. All of these images are used by Shakespeare to give a basis for the themes and intentions that are going to be introduced in the rest of the play. However, the orchard could also be used by Shakespeare as a vehicle of association with the Garden of Eden along with which follows the idea of the serpent brought to destroy and destruct reminding the audience that all is not as it seems. Scene one is set in the house of Leonato suggests to the audience that this must be the focal point of play and that Leonato is a momentous figure, as well as wealthy and of high social order. Shakespeare employs the device of a letter to introduce the characters in an interesting way and provide background information, bringing the play to a speedy start. ...read more.


Shakespeare also uses their argument as a vehicle to reveal similarities between their characters that make their future relationship even more entertaining for the audience; Benedick's 'hard heart' and similarly Beatrice's 'cold blood' both insinuate that they both have no desire for love. Ironically, they may be more suited to each other than they think. Following the end of Beatrice and Benedick's quarrel Don Pedro announces that Leonato had invited them to say with him for as long as they wish. This emphasises the good feelings in the house and shows the Christian virtue of hospitality and carries on the religious imagery. To contrast Leonato's good virtues, Shakespeare introduces the character of Don John. His character would already be suspicious as 'the bastard' who would stereotypically be twisted and jealous of the lack of power and responsibility he would have in comparison to his brother the Prince. Shakespeare keeps his introduction completely separate to the rest of the characters confirming how he is different. His introduction is also used as a device by Shakespeare to shed light on his shady character revealing how he and his brother have just "reconciled". Shakespeare clears the stage giving the audience a chance to learn more about "Brave young Claudio". ...read more.


Don John's entrance also affects Claudio as Shakespeare uses it to outline his inexperience in love. The high lights of this point are the plans of Claudio to "shame" Hero at their wedding. Shakespeare employs this device not only to show Claudio's immaturity, but to also outline the weakness in their relationship and his character. If he had really loved and trusted her as a person, he would not of judged her completely on the word of a man regarding her sexual decency. It is only when the time comes for the three to repent that Shakespeare separates the three, Claudio and Don Pedro ask for forgiveness and Don John does not. The Christian virtues are maintained and they are forgiven, whereas, Don John is to be punished, showing that those who do good will be rewarded and the "serpent" will be admonished. In conclusion, I believe that Shakespeare opens the play with great success as he uses it to introduce characters in an appealing way and provide their background information making each character entertaining. It also provides a preliminary look into how the characters may turn out, along with gripping dilemmas and keeping the audience intrigued. These dilemmas are the foundation for all of the engaging twists in the rest of the play and the breaking and formation of relationships. 1 Nadine Young ...read more.

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