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Importance and Dramatic Presentation of Beatrice and Benedick.

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Introduction

In Shakespearean works, audiences had become accustomed to plays in which their attention would be fixated entirely on the intricately constructed plots and sub-plots unraveling before them, as well as the carefully created personalities of each character whose position within the plot was inextricably linked with the eventual success of the play on the whole. These characters had to be people whom the audience felt some sort of empathy toward and had to be in positions which could be related to by the audience. 'Much Ado About Nothing' is no different in this respect and two characters stand out head and shoulders above the rest in terms of importance. This is the fiery couple, Benedick and Beatrice whose relationship is filled with uncertainty throughout, over whether or not they will marry, however the air of inevitably is never removed. From other Shakespearean comedies, some conventions had come to be expected. One of these was the use of comedy characters. In plays such as Twelfth Night, we see Malvolio's naivety in being tricked into believing that completing a list of ridiculous acts would prove his devotion towards his sweetheart and thus, persuade her to love him as well as the comedy of Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Sir Toby Belch. Similarly, in Midsummer's Night Dream, 'the Mechanicals' provide humour in not being able to see their obvious hopelessness when performing their play. Shakespeare has also used employed fools or jesters in his plays to create humour. ...read more.

Middle

The interest has been built up and the audience then desires and awaits this satisfaction. Pairs are very quickly formed in this play and with Beatrice's early remarks regarding the whereabouts of Benedick and their witty battle soon after, it is obvious that this is one of the pairs to be associated together. Even their names seem to match, with Shakespeare deliberately giving the only two names beginning with the letter 'B' to these two characters. Following this, both their names were also associated with very positive meanings at the time. 'Benedick' was said to have meant blessed and 'Beatrice' was 'the bringer of joy.' Their similarities had been noted by some of the other characters in the play and this leads to many of the other conventions of a Shakespearean comedy being fulfilled by Benedick and Beatrice. We had already seen mistaken identity at the masked ball when Beatrice is very much aware that she is speaking with Benedick although he is not sure that she knows. This is shown when Beatrice mentioned Benedick in conversation and Benedick responds by asking, 'What's he?' Beatrice replies, 'I'm sure you know him well enough.' This facilitates both the dramatic irony and confusion associated with many Shakespearean plays. In other plays, we have also seen Shakespeare use eavesdropping as a way to create confusion with the listener gathering the wrong information or with those being listened to being aware that the other can hear what they are saying and therefore using this to their advantage. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even the title seems to be referring to them: 'Much Ado About Nothing' could be pointing out the delay in their getting together when it is inevitable from start to finish that it will happen, yet it almost takes an eternity to come about. Therefore it was no surprise for me to learn that at one point, Shakespeare had even titled this play, 'Benedicke and Betteris.' It is through the other characters and sub-plots going on that we are able to see the 'resolution, revelation and restoration' format executed, which has been associated with many of Shakespeare's works and also other plays, however without Benedick and Beatrice, I feel that the play would lack any substance and it is they who make the play the success it has become. This restoration and resolution is pressed home to the audience and emphasised by the return to the 'merry war betwixt between Beatrice and Benedick' and the revival of their regular witty battles. 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 leaves with the ultimate satisfaction; all is well and their 'heroes' have found their rightful place in society. By Amandeep Bindra 12E - 1 - ...read more.

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