The purpose of the essay is to show how Shakespeare portrays relationships and how he uses the theme love and marriage through out the play. I will also analyse how a modern audience would interpret the play.
Much Ado About Nothing shows us different sorts of relationships between men and woman, this mainly being in the form of Beatrice and Benedick, whose relationship is of unrequited love, then there is Claudio and hero whose relationship is that of courtly love. The basic pattern of romantic comedy is that love creates discord in society. We can see this from the beginning of the play when the troubles of war is over and the characters have time to relax, and so their thoughts turn to amusement and love.
One would argue that Claudio’s love to Hero is true and that of pureness, but I believe that Claudio’s so called ‘love for Hero’ is actually mistaken for ‘lust’. I also believe that his love for Hero is based on only physical attraction, as he falls in love with Hero when only seeing her once and without event talking to her. Even if he did love Hero he still asks Benedick for his opinion of Hero, this is shown in act 1 scene 1.1 This shows weakness in his love for Hero as a true person in love would not need other people’s opinions, but I believe he relies on them. Benedick only ridicules Claudio for his love and this is where he mentions his beliefs on marriage and love. This is shown in act 1 scen1.2 Here he is talking of marriage as a burden. During most of the play Benedick is very against marriage and love. I believe a modern audience could relate to this, as a stereotypical male nowadays is seen as afraid as commitment. But to a renaissance audience they would find this hard to believe as Benedick would be seen as out of place, where as Claudio’s ‘love at first sight’ would seem quite typical.
Beatrice and Benedick’s discussions are very energetic, biting and flirtatious. Each claim to be immune to the ravishes of love, this is shown with Benedick in act 2 scene 3.3 And shown with Beatrice in act 2 scene 1.4 They defiantly have similarities between them but still find it hard to agree on issues. This is proven when they both refer to falling in love as foolish and that they will not be made a fool of; this is shown for Beatrice in act 2 scene1.5 And is shown in act 1 scene 1 for Benedick.6 Both talk of fools in the term of horns and animals (which are at the bottom of the chain of being). The comedy of the play lies in watching them swallow their pride and grudgingly admit to loving each other, only after the help of their friends. I believe that there seems to be a lot of interference between their friends in helping them come together. In Claudio and Hero’s matter, Don Pedro woos Hero for Claudio, and in Beatrice and Benedick’s matter their friends play them off with each other in order to make the other believe that the other is in love with them. Other characters contrive to make Beatrice and Benedick, who seem to despise each other and who spend most of their time trading insults, fall in love, this is shown in the act 2 scene 3 and in the act 3 scene 1. I find it very odd how these two strong wited characters both are easily fooled when they would talk of love as a burden and a sin, perhaps the characters uses there insults to hide behind their true feelings and really did want to be in love.
Claudio and Hero act within the play as ‘love-struck teenagers’. Hero has no say in the matter of marriage to Claudio. When Claudio shames Hero at the wedding, he leaves her and then finds out that she is dead. Which is not true, but when he finds out that Hero did not wrong him, he becomes very melancholy and when Leonato proposes that he is to marry his niece he accepts. A modern audience would find this astonishing as if he was truly in love with Hero we would not have excepted this, but in the renaissance period Claudio would have been seen as doing the noble thing. I find it odd, that Hero and the rest of the characters forgive Claudio and his actions so easily.
Beatrice is very fiery and independent (like Lady Macbeth in Macbeth) to that of her cousin Hero. Hero would be seen as a stereotypical ‘silent woman’ where as Beatrice would be seen as very socially out of place. Beatrice seems very rude and outspoken (but she would argue that she only speaks her mind), this may be the pure fact that she is an orphan and therefore does not have to obey to any authority figure, such as Hero does to her father Leonato. This is mocked in act2 scene1.7 The audience in the renaissance period would find this funny as the scenes they are in they start to believe in a way that previously would have been regarded as exaggerated, emotional and foolish.
Major emphasis in Much Ado About Nothing is not on love in tension with social restraint, but on love being threatened by something malevolent, anti-comic force is the villainy of Don John. This is similar pattern to that of The Merchant Of Venice.
A very odd relationship that Shakespeare presents in this play is that of Borachio and Margaret’s. I believe the relationship is mostly a sexual one. This would never have been possible for a woman such as Hero to commit acts of sex out of wedlock. Here Shakespeare shows us a different sort of woman, a more ‘free woman’. She is not expected of anything therefore can do as she wishes.
Benedick and Beatrice’s relationship is challenged when Hero is wrongfully shamed; their talk in act 4 scene 1 becomes much more intense and more serious. Beatrice becomes very angry and asks Benedick to kill his good friend Claudio. Benedick at first laughs this off but then accepts for the love of Beatrice. This shows us that their love is very strong as Benedick and Claudio is that of good friends.
A modern audience would be able to relate to some of the relationships, as some of the issues brought up in the play are still an issue today. Such as Claudio believing rumours of Hero cheating or Margaret’s relationship with Borachio. As Shakespeare has given lots of different forms of relationships, a modern audience can interpret them differently.
1 Act 1 Scene 1, line 140, Wordworth Classics- Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare. Claudio says ” Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?”
2 Act 1 Scene 1, line 175, Wordworth Classics- Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare.
Benedick mocks by saying “thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it”
3 Act 2 Scene 3, line 10, Wordworth Classics- Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare.
Benedick laughs ” the shallow follies of love”.
4 Act 2 Scene 1, line 51-52, Wordworth Classics- Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare.
Beatrice says,” till god make men of some other metal than earth”.
5 Act 2 Scene1, line 20-21, Wordworth Classics- Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare.
Beatrice says “God sends a curst cow short horns- but to a cow too curst he sends none”
6 Act 1 Scene 1, line 229-231, Wordworth Classics- Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare.
Benedick says, ” but ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull’s horns and set them in my forehead”.
7 Act 2 scene 1, line 45-48, Wordworth Classics- Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare.