Shakespeare uses two different types of deception to create drama in the play and this makes the play very lively. The two types of deception are “good” deception and “bad” deception. Good deception is used by Leonato, Don Pedro and Claudio to fool Benedick into believing that Beatrice is in love with him. At the same time a parallel deception is taking place to convince Beatrice that Benedick is in love with her, this is carried out by Hero and Ursa.
Don Pedro, Leanato and Claudio talk loudly so that Benedick can hear them, of Beatrice’s love for Benedick. This comes as a huge shock to Benedick who has been conducting a “merry war” with Beatrice. However when he hears of her loves for him he replies with, “When I said I would die a bachelor I did not think I would live to be married.” The same is done by Ursa and Hero on Beatrice. Both Hero and Ursa and Don Pedro and Leanato use the same tactics. Ursa and Hero build up Benedick’s image describing him as the greatest man in Italy. They combine this with the destruction of Beatrice’s image describing her as somebody who couldn’t love. This is the deception in the play that is seen as good because it has a happy outcome. This type of deception is also very witty and pokes fun at the people it is deceiving whereas Don John’s deception is crude and cruel.
The other “good” deception is that of Hero by Don Pedro. This takes place at the masked ball when the Prince offers to woe Hero for Claudio as his patron. Don John the Bastard hears of this and forms the first of his deceptions. Whilst the Prince is wooing Hero for Claudio Don John informs Claudio that Don Pedro is wooing for himself. This lie luckily has no consequence.
At the same ball Beatrice’s and Benedick’s merry war continues in earnest with Beatrice using the disguise of the masks to mock Benedick , calling him the Prince’s jester. It is at this ball that Beatrice makes another statement indicating that she doesn’t want a husband. Whilst discussing husbands with Leanato she finds something wrong with every type of man saying of men with no beard,
“What should I do with him? Dress him in my apparel
And make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a
Beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no
Beard is less than a man: and he that is more than
A youth is not for me, and he that is less than a
Man, I am not for him”.
She then goes on to say
Her uncle Leanato responds by saying , “Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband. This gives a clear indication that every women was meant to be “fitted” with a husband and this shows that Lady Beatrice is an exception. Beatrice shows through out the play that she is witty and she shows this in her response to her uncles remark. “Not till God make men of some other metal than earth”. This of course will never happen but it is this sort of language that shows Shakespeare’s wit in using conflict.
After the masked ball Don John forms a new plan of deception to break up the proposed marriage of Hero to Claudio. He uses his henchmen, Boracchio’s relationship with Magaret, Hero’s gentle-women, to form an evil plan. One evening whilst Boracchio and Magaret are making love on a balcony Don John orders Boracchio to shout Hero’s name. At the same time he has led Claudio and Don Pedro to Hero’s balcony. From the courtyard below in the dark all Claudio and Don Pedro can hear or see is Boracchio saying Hero’s name. Don John, Don Pedro and Claudio all agree to publicly shame Hero the next day at the planned wedding. This shows us two things about Shakespearean society. Firstly it shows us that chastity was of extreme importance to people of the age. That is closely linked with the need for a public humiliation to get back any lost honour or pride that a hurt person might feel.
This part of the play is based on honour and social standing. Social standing is important to everybody in the play from Don Pedro to Don John. The evil deceptions come about as a result of Don John’s bitterness toward Don pedro. During the public humiliation of Hero Claudio says that he saw hero with a roughian at this hour. This gives the impression that it is twice as bad if Hero slept with some1 of lower social standing. Whilst Claudio and Don p r discussing the marriage of Hero and Claudio they touch on the subject of inheritance as being important. This subject is touched upon again when Leonato tells Claudio he has a niece almost identical to Hero who is heir to him and his brother.