Arguably, Beatrice can be considered to be the main character in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing”. Through her melodrama, Shakespeare provides us with a rare and lovable character. Hence, great care should be taken to direct her, especially in response to her lover, Benedick.
Unlike most women during that era, Beatrice shows no fear towards men, let alone considers herself as inferior. The privet conversation between Beatrice and Benedick displays this: “It’s a man’s office, but not yours”. The sentence is purposed to challenge Benedick of his manhood, hence, the break in this line can be exaggerated, by speaking the latter phrase in a slow tempo with a harsh tone. Also, Beatrice should look upon Benedick eyes whilst speaking this line and point at him, as this will bring their love relationship into Benedick’s mind. If these actions are followed, even the audience should be shocked, as this was a very daring phrase for a woman to say.
Just as she persuades Benedick to do her bidding, she hands him a grave task: “Kill Claudio” The line is very short and therefore breaks any flow in their conversation, y pausing the play and allowing time for the audience to absorb the surprise behind these words. Also the alliteration of the two “K-” sounds (which sound harsh already) can be exaggerated by lowering her pitch and again using a slow tempo. The impact will be astonishing: even Benedick, who probably knows her best, will be caught unexpected.
Throughout their privet conversation, Beatrice starts the conversation in a bleak tone, her lines being short and harsh. Also, here they do not speak in iambic pentameter as they did before, to show their closeness, and also, how they both were changed persons ways from the public eye. In the beginning, Beatrice does this deliberately, to pretend to keep a distance between Benedick and herself. However, once she declares her love: “I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest”, there is a great change. After Benedick refuses once, she attacks him with many threats, such as “you kill me to deny it” and “there is no love in you”. Although Benedick may not have realised this, Beatrice repeatedly used her friendship and love to use Benedick as a tool. As their talk progresses, for once in the entire play, Beatrice’s real emotions were seen (this may suggest the strength of their relationship). She should remain remote and silent-like to start with and slowly as the conversation progresses she should display her anger. Gradually, she should increase her pitch, and start waving her clenched fists. Also, when she speaks, “O’that I were a man!” she should be desperate and tearful. It should also be noted that this is the only time Beatrice is helpless, and should be placed at a lower level in the stage to signify this.
Act 5 Scene 4 returns Beatrice to her former self. In response to Benedick, she completely rejects him: “Why no, no more than reason”. This is probably because she is back in the public eye. However, she should say this with hesitation, pausing before she answered Benedick’s question, since she has just before declared her love to Benedick. She should be happy when saying this, as Hero’s status is restored and furthermore, she is insulting Benedick again, which she rather enjoys, (there is a link to the beginning here: the first scene and last scene both feature a clash between Beatrice and Benedick). The tone should be mocking, with a smile upon Beatrice’s face, to shame Benedick further. The audience may be shocked by this and disapprove Beatrice, as by saying this, it consequently could be taken that Beatrice declared her love before only to use Benedick to kill Claudio.
Even towards then, the end, one curious thing to be noted is that where as Benedick has finally declared his love in public, Beatrice remains to do so: she is the same witty women as seen in Scene 1. Even the last line she speaks, “I was told you were in a consumption” is in a cold and harsh tone. This shows that even through the end she stays contempt.