To what extent is Benedick changed by the end of the play, and how does Shakespeare make this clear to us?
At the beginning of the play, Benedick appears as almost a comic character, acting as if the most important part of his character is his wit. However, by the end of the play it becomes obvious that he is a clear-thinking character who is able to take action and keep his head in a crisis.
The change in Benedick’s character is accompanied by the change in his relationship with Beatrice, as they move from ‘merry war’ and ‘skirmish of wit’ to become lovers, though Benedick does still protest that he ‘love thee (Beatrice) against my will’.Throughout the play, Benedick’s relationship with Beatrice is an important mark of his character. In the first scene they are unable to converse without entering into one of the skirmishes of wit for which Leonato has said they are known. There is a suggestion from Beatrice that the two have been in a relationship before:“You always end with a jades trick, I know you of old”Evidence of this past relationship provides both a reason for the ‘merry war’ and a suggestion that there may still be some romantic feelings between the two.However, Benedick’s jocular attitude towards women does not stop at Beatrice, even when Claudio asks Benedick, as a friend, for serious advice about Hero, he is unable to take the situation seriously or give a serious answer:“She’s too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise and too little for a great praise”This shows quite clearly that Benedick’s character in the early stages of the play is firmly rooted in his wit.
In the first essay, written by Jean Howard, the main idea or thesis seems to focus on the anti theatrical aspects of the play. The actual thesis would be Shakespeare employs anti theatrical discourse in a way that advantages certain social groups without calling attention to the fact that it does that. Howard takes a Marxist approach to the play. She looks at how the conflict intertwines itself ...
Of course, Benedick’s failure to notice Hero at all is a further suggestion that he has feelings for Beatrice, which is supported by his assertion to Claudio that ‘her (Hero’s) cousin (Beatrice)…exceeds her as much in beauty, as the first of May doth the last of December”.The fact that Benedick has feelings for Beatrice becomes clearer as the play progresses, despite his assertions to Claudio that he is ‘a professed tyrant to their sex’. Benedick keeps this point of view while speaking to Don Pedro, making quite clear that he will never marry:“I will live a bachelor.”This statement seems to signify Benedick’s apparent state of mind and character at this stage in the play. He makes fun of Claudio for being in love and seeking to marry, which provides opportunity for irony later in the play: his jokes are turned on him by Claudio and Don Pedro when his true feelings for Beatrice are revealed.Benedick’s feelings for Beatrice become more obvious after the masqued ball, in Act 2 Scene 1. He reacts quite strongly to Beatrice’ comments about him. Shakespeare uses the dramatic device of the masqued ball, and the inherent confusion of identity, to allow Benedick to believe that Beatrice intended to speak ill of him to another person, when all along Beatrice knows whom she is speaking to.
The fact that Benedick reacts in the way he does to these comments shows he is hurt by the thought that Beatrice might feel this way about him. There is a suggestion that he does not mind such comments when directed at him in a ‘skirmish of wit’, but the idea that she may speak ill of him to another person is quite different, as he must have previously thought that she shared whatever secret feelings he had for her.Benedick’s reaction makes his feelings for Beatrice obvious to Don Pedro, leading to the plot to bring Beatrice and Benedick together. This plot allows Benedick’s character to change, when he thinks Beatrice has feelings for him, he becomes more relaxed about his own feelings for her.Benedick’s soliloquy at the start of Act 2 Scene 3 is another important mark of his character and state of mind. Further opportunity for irony later in the play is created by his comments:“I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love: and such a man is Claudio”This becomes ironic later in the play when Benedick becomes the very thing he describes in this statement.
William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is a play involving by deception, disloyalty, trickery, eavesdropping, and hearsay. The play contains numerous examples of schemes that are used to manipulate the thoughts of other characters; it is the major theme that resonates throughout the play. Ironically, it is one of these themes that bring serenity to the chaos that encompasses most of the ...
This soliloquy seems to suggest that Benedick is very clear about his views on love and marriage. It seems likely that he is reassuring himself that he does not need love to make up for the fact that he thinks Beatrice dislikes him.His views change quite considerably when the plotters have done their work and made him think Beatrice has feelings for him: his second soliloquy at the end of this scene shows a contrast from his previous views:“Love me! why, it must be requited”He also makes excuses to himself as to why his views have changed so suddenly, no doubt preparing himself for being the subject of the same wit and jokes that he subjected Claudio to about his feelings for Hero, while knowing that he will probably face even more taunting because he has changed his views so dramatically and so quickly.“When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.’He claims that he will be able to cope with whatever jokes are directed at him:“Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?”Whatever his views, it is clear that he is glad of the idea that Beatrice has feelings for him, which in turn makes it clear that he has feelings for her in return.In Act 3 Scene 2, Claudio and Don Pedro claim to have noticed the change in Benedick’s character, allowing them to ‘conclude he is in love’.
Of course, Don Pedro and Claudio know that their plot has caused him to feel this way, and take this opportunity to have their fun at his expense, making witty comments about his love just as he did with Claudio.This change in Benedick’s character comes about solely because of the suggestion that Beatrice has feelings for him, allowing also for a change in his relationship with her. However, a greater change in his character becomes apparent in Act 4, where he reacts to a serious situation in a calm, composed and thoughtful manner, where previously he could have been expected just to be a joker, incapable of being serious.The fact that he is able to help devise a solution to the problem facing Leonato and Hero shows that he is beginning to take things more seriously, and is now less of the comic character that he was at the beginning of the play. There is a suggestion that by becoming more relaxed with his feelings for Beatrice, and wanting to enter into a relationship with her, he is also becoming a more mature character in general. Shakespeare makes this quite obvious in the way Benedick is becoming more serious. A further suggestion of this is shown when Benedick declares his love for Beatrice, the fact that he no longer feels the need to deny these feelings shows a further mark of the change in his character.
... That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely? HERO: So says the prince and my new-troth ed lord. The fact that the other characters ... of the play, both their feelings on whether they love, who they love, and marriage, will change. For better or worse, we ... play that their true feelings emerge. When these feelings are finally acknowledged, both characters are changed, but the changes are subtle. They are ...
In agreeing to challenge Claudio he is showing both a further side of his new seriousness, as well as showing how strong his feelings for Beatrice must be: he will agree to challenge a close friend in order to show his love for her. This is a further successful attempt by Shakespeare to show how Benedick has changed.When Benedick does challenge Claudio, the serious part of his character is again shown:“You are a villain. -I jest not”However, he has not lost his wit:“Your wit ambles well: it goes easily”By the end of the play, Benedick’s character seems to combine his wit with a new, maturer attitude, and he no longer feels the need to scorn those who love, or not to show love himself.Benedick’s character obviously changes during the play, as he moves from ‘I will live a bachelor’ and being unable to be serious, to getting married to Beatrice, and showing he can both react seriously to a serious situation, and then act upon the situation in an appropriate, composed and thoughtful manner. Shakespeare introduces Benedick to the audience simply as a comic character, and then allows the audiences impression of him to gradually change as the play progresses and different facets of his character come to the fore.The changes in Benedick’s character are marked by his words to other characters and to the audience in soliloquy, as well as by other characters conversations about him.
Shakespeare uses all these different viewpoints to paint a changing picture of Benedick. By giving the audience an initial impression of Benedick and changing it over time, Shakespeare allows Benedick’s character to develop further and have more depth than if he remained the same throughout the play. This also makes Benedick more dramatically interesting to the audience, due to the gradual change and development of his character.The extent to which Benedick is changed is shown by the way his attitudes appear completely changed by the conclusion of the play, as he appears no longer to be a ‘tyrant’ towards women, and he is no longer reliant on his wit as the main feature of his personality.
In Elizabethan times, the theater was a popular source of entertainment. People from all social and economic backgrounds would come to London to enjoy the plays. Inside the theater, conditions were crowded and, by today’s standards, very uncomfortable. Still, people would come from all over to be entertained and celebrate. Most playgoers were craftspeople and merchants, but audiences were ...