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Discuss the presentation of the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick in Shakespeare's 'Much Ado about Nothing'

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Introduction

Discuss the presentation of the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick in Shakespeare's 'Much Ado about Nothing' referring to the whole play. Beatrice is the niece of Leonato, a wealthy governor of Messina. She is feisty, cynical, sharp and witty. Benedick has recently returned from fighting in the wars. He is also witty, and like Beatrice is always making jokes and puns. They both continue a 'merry war' against each other, in which Beatrice often wins the battles. 'They never met but there's a skirmish of wit between them', as Leonato says. They both appear content never to marry and swear never to fall in love. Beatrice then describes their last fight, when 'four of his five wits went halting off', and she continues teasingly to mock Benedick. The similarities in Beatrice's and Benedick's personalities and opinions are sure to bring them together from the beginning. They both rebel against the social 'rules' followed by most of the other characters when it comes to their opinions about love and marriage. Ironically, the effort they put into fighting creates the opportunity for them to become closer. One theme in the play is the taming of wild animals, which is the imagery that appears throughout the play. In the scene where Claudio and Don Pedro tease Benedick about his hatred of marriage, he is compared to a wild animal. Don Pedro states, 'in time the savage bull doth bear the yoke'. ...read more.

Middle

However, as the audience are used to seeing Benedick performing for others, it is hard to tell whether he has been in love with Beatrice all along, or if he suddenly falls in love with her. Benedick is feeling very insecure at this point in the play. The struggles with his new self are shown when Don Pedro questions if he will 'make a trust or transgression?' Don Pedro intended this to mean does Benedick think trusting in someone completely is a crime. The two words give alliteration with the same 'tr' and 's' sounds. This is effective because the sound of the 's' gives a sound of a snake, indicating evil and the 'tr' sound is more positive and calming. This technique Shakespeare has used is effective because the contrasted meanings of trust and betrayal are portrayed through the writing technique. This is significant of Benedick, showing his personal confusion. Beatrice enters after Benedick's soliloquy, which is humorous. She does not know that Benedick knows about her love for him, if there is any love for him at all. The last time they met, Benedick called Beatrice a 'harpy', so she must be feeling angry with him as she collects him for dinner. His change in mood must confuse her. Benedick states, 'You take pleasure then in the message', to which Beatrice replies, 'just so much as you may take upon a knife point'. ...read more.

Conclusion

At one point, Shakespeare had even titled this play, 'Benedicke and Betteris', which shows their relationship is a main focus throughout the play. Without Benedick and Beatrice, I think the play would be short of material and it is their characters and their relationship that make the play successful. "Benedick: Do you not love me? Beatrice: Why no, no more than reason. Beatrice: Do you not love me? Benedick: Troth no, no more than reason Benedick: Come, I will take thee; but by this light, I take thee for pity." It is clear that marriage will not change their relationship and the audience are left with the ultimate satisfaction that everything is good and the characters have found their correct place in society. Beatrice and Benedick are destined to last because there are no illusions to be crushed, as they know each other so well. They also have the confidence that they will be able to keep each other entertained with their similar wit. Benedick tells Beatrice, 'I take thee for pity', to which Beatrice replies, 'I yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life'. This shows their ability to mock themselves at how they used to act and promises the audience that the 'merry war' between them will carry on beyond marriage. The name Beatrice means she who blesses and Benedick means he is to be blessed, which is significant, as it shows they are meant to be together. At the end Beatrice compares marriage to joyful dances, 'wooing, wedding and repenting is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinquepeace'. ...read more.

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