Compare and contrast the romance of Hero and Claudio and Beatrice and Benedick.

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Leticia Powlett        English Coursework        10Ward 2

Compare and contrast the romance of

Hero and Claudio and Beatrice and Benedick.

In the play Much ‘Ado’ about nothing (Ado meaning fuss), relationship is the key subject throughout the play. As a comedy it is known in Shakespeare’s time to have misunderstandings, confusion and end in a wedding. Much Ado does the exact of the conventions of a comedy, full of mixed up events and confused identity. Shakespeare has used Much Ado to show two different presentations of love via Claudio and Hero, and Beatrice and Benedick.

There is evidently a contrast between the love of Claudio and Hero and Beatrice and Benedick, as there is in their characteristics and attributes. Claudio and Hero’s relationship being simply conventional and apparent where as Beatrice and Benedick’s based on their wit and deeper feelings.

Claudio himself being respected by Messina, a traditional solider and a character in which talks in blank verse show us as an audience his importance in the play. A perfect match for Claudio would therefore be a character such as Hero. As she herself is a character well respected, modest, virtuous and talks in blank verse. It is important that we remember that in Shakespearean time, individuals of the same status would wed. This is why we conclude that Claudio and Hero’s love is somewhat conventional.

Benedick too is valued, however in contrast to Claudio, is not customary and tends to talk in prose rather than blank verse, showing his significance. Beatrice, having a reaction to by a Shakespearean audience, is the complete opposite of her cousin Hero. Women were supposed to be moral, quiet, submissive and modest, Beatrice is not this way. Not wanting a husband was shocking for the audience of the time and her wit. She too talks in prose; indeed this does make her the perfect match for Benedick.

Although Hero and Claudio may well be of higher status, their relationship being based on the conditions of society’s specifications makes Beatrice and Benedick relationship based on true love.

In the beginning of the play we are aware that Claudio is a brave young ambitious count before we have met his character. As an audience Claudio is then seen as a brave courageous, young soldier. ‘He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion’ (Act 1 Scene 1) Shakespeare intentionally used this quote to give us an image of a character we are to meet. However he also did this to show the development of Claudio’s character further on in the play proving that his character is not the way it appeared to be. Claudio’s form of love is shallow, looks tend to mean a lot to him. He also is unable to decide for himself if Hero is worthy enough, ‘Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of signor Leonato?’ (Act 1 Scene 1) this suggests that Claudio is traditional and is unable to decide for himself if Hero is a worthy maid, for his status. ‘Can the world buy such a jewel’ (Act 1 Scene 1) this shows the role of women in Shakespeare’s society; as possessions, but also the importance of love and marriage; they can be seen as the best possible value above all. As a modern day audience this would be astonishing due to women have equality and love is not all. Shakespeare shows the audience that Claudio’s idea of love is linked to his insecurities and need for possessions, as a ’jewel’ referees to Hero as an item. This is also reinforced by the control of Leonato over Hero ‘take of me my daughter’ (Act 2 Scene 1) showing that their unity is superficial. Claudio is of high status, being the daughter of a governor makes Hero too of high status, making their love conventional and superficial. Despite the fact Claudio’s love is based on exquisiteness and society, he does not fail understand that to marry Hero; a female only child, meant that he would inherit Leonato’s possessions. ‘Hath Leonato any son my Lord?’ (Act 1 Scene 1)  his questioning to Don Pedro suggests he is questioning Hero and his love. ‘Thou wilt be like a lover presently and tire the hearer with a book of words’ (Act 1 Scene 1) this metaphor used, has an effect on our knowledge of Claudio’s feelings and supports the role of Claudio as a conventional lover. His inexperience in love and youth is known; as he is unaware how to approach his lover therefore Don Pedro wooed her for his companion.

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We can suggest that Claudio’s character changed three times. We know this because he once was like Benedick. Benedick has a witty and intelligent role, he competes with Beatrice in wit and intellect. He is an amusing, humorous character with a sharp nature in the comedy. ’I am loved of all ladies’ (Act 1 Scene 1) showing his sense of humour. In the beginning of the play we know of his negative view of love and women and are told of his ‘merry war’ (Act 1 Scene 1) with Beatrice. Their merry war full of puns, metaphors and similes emphasizing their intellect ...

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