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Compare and contrast the two pairs of lovers in 'Much Ado about Nothing'. Consider their attitudes, actions, language, love and audience reaction to their stories.

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West Anglia College GCSE English Assignment - Shakespeare Compare and contrast the two pairs of lovers in 'Much Ado About Nothing'. Consider their attitudes, actions, language, love and audience reaction to their stories By Stephanie Hoggett 'Much Ado About Nothing', written in 1598 and set in Messina (Sicily) is one of Shakespeare's comedies which addresses some very serious social and cultural issues inherent in Renaissance (Elizabethan) society. The play focuses on the relationships and attitudes to marriage of two couples; the mature Beatrice and Benedick and the much younger Hero and Claudio. The couples are of noble rank. Benedick and Claudio are brother officers and noblemen, Lords of Padua and Florence respectively. Benedick is a mature and experienced man in his thirties whilst Claudio is barely out of his teenage years. Hero is the young and innocent daughter of Leonato the Governor of Messina, in whose villa the play is set, whilst Beatrice, his ward and niece is much older. Both couples are in search of love, for Hero and Claudio Shakespeare makes this very explicit whilst that of Beatrice and Benedick is rather more implicit. Firstly, the relationship between Claudio and Hero, both young, na�ve and impressionable individuals. Claudio is so infatuated with Hero at first sight that he immediately falls in love and wants to marry her. ...read more.


Confidence is shown in Act four when Claudio willingly agrees to participate in a plot to bring Beatrice and Benedick together. However later in the play he is remorceful as he agrees without question to marry Leonatos niece. Depite her innocence and vulnerability Hero is sexually aware as she plots with Ursula to convince Beatrice that Benedick loves her. Nevertheless Hero often responds to a situations initiated by others; when she agrees with the Friars plan to win back Claudio and pretends to die, the deceitful nature of her character is revealed. Whilst Hero and Claudio represent the Elizabethan norm in marriage, the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick is more profound and less conventional for the time. At the start they play down and are cynical about the subject of love and marriage. Both characters are talkative, outspoken and full of wit; they hide their feelings for one another by engaging in a "merry war" (1. i. 56 ) of verbal sparring. This is illustrated in the first scene when Benedick says of Beatrice: Benedick: Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher. Beatrice: A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours. Benedick : I would my horse have the speed of your tongue, ...... (1. i. 128-130) Benedick a mature and worldly wise character cannot make up his mind about marriage and privately believes he is unsuitable. ...read more.


Shakespeare also uses language to differentiate between the social classes. Noble well to do characters speak in flamboyant fancy language indicative of their importance and education whilst 'common' barely educated characters such as Dogberry and Borachio speak in plane and simple and often inaccurate terms. For example Dogberry often gets his words completely wrong and makes ridiculous mistakes. In Act 3 Scene 3 he says "Why, then, depart in peace, and let the child wake her with crying; for ewe that will not hear her lamb when it baes will never answer a calf when he bleats". (3.3.74 - 76). In conclusion the play illustrates a kind or irony. The young passionate relationship between Hero and Claudio based on shallow first appearances deepens. As Claudio matures he begins to appreciate Hero as a real person when he realises her innocence and finally marries her. Beatrice and Benedick's innate love is cemented, when in the final scene, they begin to realise the game they have been playing and see each other for who they really are. Benedick finally silences Beatrice with a kiss, and thus like all Shakespeare's comedies the play ends in marriage between the two couples, allowing his audience to return home satisfied and in good spirit. BIBILOGRAPHY 1. Much Ado About Nothing - William Shakespeare - Arden (2001) 2. Much Ado About Nothing - Film starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Brannagh. 3. Much Ado About Nothing - York Notes (1980) 4. Much Ado About Nothing - Spark Notes 5. Internet www.gcseguide.co.uk ...read more.

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