Shakespeare clearly shows the audience from the beginning of the play that Hero and Claudio love each other. Both characters play quite important parts in the play, but their characters are quite simple and plain. Beatrice and Benedick, however, are both strong, outspoken characters that appeal more to the audience, particularly when their love for each other is declared. Both have appeared to hate each other, making their love seem quite ironic.
Claudio falls in love with Hero before he even knows her, when he says to Benedick that he would like Hero to be ‘my wife’. This suggests that Claudio is inexperienced and still very youthful. This can be seen again, when he allows Don Pedro to wear the mask and woo Hero. Claudio idealises love, when he compares Hero to ‘a jewel’, suggesting that he likes the idea of being in love, rather than actually loving Hero.
Claudio suffers from jealousy, as a result of Don John’s plot, and is malicious towards Hero, when he calls her a ‘rotten orange’, tarnishing her reputation in front of a large audience. He is particularly unfair towards Hero, as he does not confront her until they are about to be married, when he could have done before the wedding.
Claudio does not appear to be a very strong character, as he asks for his friends’ approval of Hero. He tells Don Pedro that he has ‘bestowed much honour’ on him. This suggests that he cannot form his own opinions of people, and also shows again, that he is youthful.
Hero is a very quiet character, conforming to her father’s rules, which is suggested by Beatrice, when she says, ‘It is my cousin’s duty to make curtsy’. She is often present in the play, but remains silent, suggesting that she is behaving how she is expected to. Hero has the image of an idealised courtly love relationship to live up to, which she does very well by remaining quite quiet.
Hero is portrayed by Shakespeare as a very lady-like, nave and innocent character, when Claudio says how, ‘In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I have looked on’. This again suggests that Hero is behaving in a way that she is expected.
Although Hero does appear to be a sweet and innocent character, she is quite harsh when speaking about Beatrice, as she says that she is ‘so self-endeared’. Her behaviour is unexpected, but she still had good intentions and was not in the presence of her father or Claudio, where her behaviour may not have been so acceptable.
Hero represents the image of a typical woman who is about to be married, when she is anxious and excited, when she says how her ‘heart is exceedingly heavy’. She returns to her quiet self, when the wedding is about to proceed, and appears shocked by Claudio’s accusations, as she does not say very much. Hero ‘blushes’ when she hears Claudio, as she is innocent and shy. She does not defend herself, as it is not in her nature to do so.
Beatrice is portrayed very differently by Shakespeare in the play. As Beatrice is an orphan, she does not have a father, whose rules she must convey to. This allows her character to speak and behave much more freely. Beatrice is very confident and defensive of herself, when she tells Benedick that ‘a bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours’. This also shows how Beatrice is incredibly witty. A further example of this is when she says ‘scratching could not make it worse, an ’twere such a face as yours were.’ Beatrice is proud, with a great deal of dignity and will not allow Benedick to make fun of her.
Beatrice makes her views on marriage very clear, when she says how she ‘would rather lie on the woollen’. Her opinion of men appears to be very low, particularly when she speaks of men with ‘a beard’ and how one with ‘no beard is less than a man’. This suggests that no man is good enough for her. Beatrice has a very fiery temper, as she reacts to almost anything that is said. An example of this is when she tells Benedick, ‘nobody marks you’, which was unnecessary of her, as he had not said anything offensive to her.
Beatrice does not fall in love with Benedick immediately, as Hero does with Claudio. There is a great deal of tension between the two characters, until she declares how she will tame her ‘wild heart to thy loving hand’. Beatrice’s emotional and more sensitive side has been revealed to the audience, making her character even more exciting.
Benedick is a confident male bachelor who likes to win any argument, as Beatrice suggests how he ‘always ends with a jade’s trick’. He is a womaniser, who is not interested in marriage or love, as he says that he ‘will live a bachelor’. He speaks lowly of women, as Beatrice does of men, when he refers to Hero as ‘Leonato’s short daughter’. This makes his character amusing and also shows elements of wit, which can be seen more clearly when speaking to Beatrice. He tells her, ‘I would my horse had the speed of your tongue’, which results in him winning the argument.
When Benedick realises that he loves Beatrice, he gives a very long speech, finding reasons why he should love her. His views change dramatically, when he says that ‘she’s a fair lady!’. He does not move out of character however, as he reminds the audience how ‘the world must be peopled’. His soliloquy is very amusing and quite ironic, if compared with his previous emotions.
In conclusion, Hero and Claudio’s characters are both quite simple and typical of a courtly love relationship. Both are very naï¿½ve and inexperienced, as they fall in love so quickly, making their story-line less interesting to the audience. The fact that both characters are quite weak and dependent on others means that they are less appealing than Benedick and Beatrice. Their characters are much stronger and entertaining, with the arguments that they have and their views against love and marriage. Both characters are very defensive of themselves, but the audience still sees the more sensitive and emotional side of them. This makes more them interesting and funny to watch, so that their story-line catches our attention more than Claudio and Hero’s does.