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In "Much Ado About Nothing" Shakespeare demonstrates the shallowness of the traditional view of courtly love and the greater value of real loving kindness; an appealing message whatever the audience.

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Introduction

In "Much Ado About Nothing" Shakespeare demonstrates the shallowness of the traditional view of courtly love and the greater value of real loving kindness; an appealing message whatever the audience. Shakespeare demonstrates the shallowness of courtly love mainly through Claudio and Hero, who are the central characters of the main plot. The couple's relationship however, does not appeal to the audience as greatly as the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick does. Even to an Elizabethan audience, where the traditional courtly love relationship is particularly common, the greater value of real loving kindness that Beatrice and Benedick share is far more likely to catch our attention. A courtly love relationship is typical mainly of aristocratic lovers, essentially with the unconsummated love between a bachelor knight and his lord's daughter. Secrecy and jealousy are often involved, and the idealistic relationship is often based on beauty and image. Shakespeare uses Claudio and Hero to portray this image as Claudio has chosen the daughter of Leonato (a respected governor). Hero is therefore, in terms of a courtly love relationship, a 'worthy' match for Claudio according to Don Pedro, particularly as she is Leonato's 'only heir'. She can guarantee him future wealth and status if her father approves of the couple. Hero appears to accept Claudio as a suitable husband, which is expected, as she has a father and must abide by her father's wishes and play by society's rules. ...read more.

Middle

Although the couple claim to detest each other, it is clear to the audience that they secretly have deeper feelings for one another or they would not feel the need to speak about them at all. This is confirmed, when they confess their love for one another very soon after being tricked by their friends, for example, Benedick tells us how he does 'spy some marks of love in' Beatrice. Even when the deception is revealed, the couple remain together, wit Benedick saying how 'I will have thee', showing that even though the couple have been deceived, they love one another despite this and their relationship is still based on real loving kindness. Beatrice tests Benedick's love for her when she asks him to 'Kill Claudio'. If he is prepared to put her before his friend, then his love for her must be genuine. What seems to be a test of unnecessary extremity to the audience is prevented by the discovery of Don John's treachery. However, Beatrice's demand causes intense excitement for the audience, particularly as he tells her that he 'will challenge him', proving his love for her. The testing and challenging evidently shows that Beatrice and Benedick's love is real and therefore more appealing to any audience, as the couple are ensuring that they make the correct and ideal match for one another. Claudio and Hero fall in love at first sight, based on appearance and status and without testing one another. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the true value of real loving kindness, demonstrated mainly through Beatrice and Benedick appeals a great deal more to any audience of the play. The couple have challenged and tested one another, they communicate alone regularly, throughout the play. The couple also share a physical relationship and tell their feelings for one another. Their love is therefore more genuine, realistic and easier to relate to, as well as being very entertaining. Claudio and Hero, however do not appeal as much to the audience, due to their shallow and artificial courtly love relationship. They conform to the traditional rules of Messinan society, by speaking in public, and having no physical contact with one another. Claudio and Hero share an idealistic relationship based on wealth, status and beauty, and featuring jealousy and lack of trust. Although this is recognised by most audiences as it is traditional, the relationship is still far more inferior to Beatrice's and Benedick's. Even an Elizabethan audience, where courtly love often occurs, still look upon Claudio and Hero as boring and unrealistic. In my opinion, Beatrice and Benedick are far more appealing, as they love one another, despite the deception of their friends and their previous behaviour towards each other in the play. Claudio and Hero share a shallow relationship, which is clear particularly when Don John's scheming and villainous plan is set into action. However, the couple both play by the shallow rules of their society and live in the same convention and are therefore, a suitable match for one another. ...read more.

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