Choose one of the main characters and examine what methods Shakespeare uses to reveal his/her personality and any changes he/she undergoes in the course of the play.
The character I have decided to examine is Claudio. He is my favourite character through the play and there are many different parts to his personality. His character changes a couple of times during the play from being a so called ‘love sick puppy’ to a nasty enraged revenge plotting male and then back again. His character keeps you wondering what he is going to do next. Very unpredictable and easily led he makes an instinctive and exciting character to examine. Throughout this essay I will make references to Shakespeare’s views and use quotes to back up my ideas. In addition to this I will give you a look into the background of his character.
Claudio is a young noble man that has proved his bravery in battle many a time. He was brought up to be a ‘proper’ gentleman and has to find himself a brilliant match whom he thinks he finds in Hero. For all this ‘grooming’ he is seen as quite immature throughout the play. A lot of his lines seem to be pre-planned and a little clumsy at times.
At the beginning of the play it seems as though Claudio and Hero would make the perfect couple. From the minute they see each other they supposedly fall in love. I am not so sure that this is the fact. Claudio asks Leonato ‘hath Leonato any son my lord?’ This is a probing question because if he has not then Hero will inherit all of Leonato’s money and land making her a very interesting prospect for marriage. As soon as Leonato denies he has a son Claudio begins to compliment Hero by saying ‘how fair Hero is’. This sounds sincere but it is a possibility that Claudio is showing how shallow a person he is. Is it possible that he is already in love with Hero or has he got one eye on her inheritance? His next important line is ‘my liking might too sudden seem’ obviously Claudio has realised that it may seem a little strange that he has fallen in love with a potentially rich maid too quickly! Although this may be the case you have to remember that ‘love at first sight’ was a very popular idea in Shakespeare’s time.
Another part of his personality is his cynical suspicious outlook on life. When Don John tells him at the dance that Don Pedro ‘woos for himself’ he is too quick to doubt his close friend (Don Pedro). Also it shows us that he is too easily swayed and perhaps even gullible?
At the news of Hero’s disloyalty towards him Claudio quickly comes up with a plan to shame her on their wedding day. This plan seems to come about all too easily, much alike to all his speeches concerning Hero. Even though he has only heard of this disloyalty would he be so quick to devise such a plan that would destroy the young maid? I say hearing because it has not been proved but just told to him! Although he is young and inexperienced this does not distract you from the fact that he hasn’t even consulted Hero about the matter. Claudio’s suspicions are made even worse as Don John is a very clever trickster! After the disastrous wedding you see Claudio, Benedick and Don Pedro talking. Claudio behaves in a disgraceful manner by making jokes about Hero. This is a total contrast to what he was like at the beginning of the play when he was so much in love with the young maid. Surely if he was this much in love he would feel guilt about how he has ‘murdered Hero’. If your fiance had supposedly slept with someone else you would at least be upset about it but Claudio seems to be making light of the matter. I’m sure these are not the actions of a person that has just lost someone they cherished so dearly.
When the truth does come out Claudio does show genuine signs of remorse. Even though this remorse is shown Claudio is obviously easily led and quick to believe and even quicker to plan revenge. Also a lot of his speeches seem to be what I would call ‘cheesy’ and pre-meditated. All of this makes you think that Claudio isn’t what he seems. From the outside he looks like a very confident self-righteous man but I think at heart he is a little immature in how he handles difficult situations. He is a very complex character to understand and this all adds to his personality. Is he genuine? I’m no too sure!
At first Claudio and Hero’s partnership looks like the perfect match but from this I hope you have realised that nothing is ever perfect especially when plots are made to stop you.