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Compare The Dramatisation of Benedick and Don John in 'Much Ado About Nothing'

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Introduction

Compare The Dramatisation of Benedick and Don John in Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing' Signor Benedick and Don John 'the bastard' have similar, and contrasting aspects in Shakespeare's romantic comedy 'Much Ado About Nothing'. The central plot revolves around two pairs of young lovers. These are, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero. The outcome of the play is marriage and celebration, but there is a dramatic threat along the way; Don John 'the bastard' comes into the action to potentially wreak havoc, but never to seriously circumvent the happy conclusion. Both Don John and Benedick describe marriage as a state of disquiet. Benedick is always humorous, asking incredulous questions about marriage such as 'will I never see a bachelor of three score again?' and commenting that 'all women shall pardon me' as I never want to get married. In contrast, Don John does not indulge in sarcasm or wordplay. His attitude is surly and miserable, and he simply describes marriage as 'unquietness'. ...read more.

Middle

Don Pedro is in control of him, and Don John should not do anything to upset him. Don John bristles at having to conform to Don Pedro's expectations. We also hear later that again Don John is bitter about the restrictions imposed upon him. He is angry at being 'trusted with a muzzle' and 'enfranchised with a clog'. He strains against the constraints of his role as the 'bastard' brother, refusing to 'sing' in his 'cage'. Don John admits that he is naturally sombre, that he must 'smile at no mans jest' because he lacks the skills or willpower to change his face to suit others. Benedick however, considers his own wit far greater than Beatrice's, accusing her of copying him by calling her a 'rare parrot teacher'. He also believes that he is adored by all women, 'I am loved by all ladies', and he does not even question the fact that Beatrice will 'wear her heart out' for him, though she has repeatedly rebuffed and insulted him. Despite this, he displays some self-awareness and ironic self-commentary, ('I must not seem proud') ...read more.

Conclusion

Beatrice claims that Benedick 'wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat' and later Benedick exclaims that Claudio carves 'the fashion of a new doublet'. The fact that Shakespeare uses the image of the fast changing fashions of men's hats, which was a controversial issue at that time, adds to the sense of ridiculous and slapstick comedy that Shakespeare employs. In contrast, Don John has few images that describe him, as none of the other characters ever refer to him. Both Benedick and Don John like conflict. Benedick's 'merry war' with Beatrice is more humorous, and this conflict is a 'war of wit' and wordplay, whilst Don John takes purposeful actions in order to wreak havoc. He stays the same malcontent and 'villain' that he was from the start. Benedick however changes through the play. He used to speak in plain language like an 'honest man' or a 'soldier', but now that he has matured considerably he admits that he speaks the 'language of love'. His earlier pronouncements on marriage and romance are shown to be ironic by his falling so quickly in love with Beatrice. ...read more.

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