The gulling scene of Benedict is Shakespeare’s exploration of trickery and deception. The way in which deception and disorder are presented in the scene results in the comedy through Benedicts exaggerated reaction physically and in facial expression as well as in the whole scene we are in on the joke. The only reason for the deception in the scene paying off is because of the three antagonists making it very convincing this is the truth.
When, the gulling scene is first presented between the antagonist roles of Leonato, Claudio and Don Pedro, we as an audience can see the bait that is laid out to the vulnerable Benedict. This is evident when Leonato states ‘she dote on Signor Benedict’ which implies that Beatrice has affection for Benedict who initially loves none. The reason for the comedy generated by this statement is it generates an exaggeration surprised facial expression from Benedict, due to the fact that Beatrice is the character who is said to despise and scorn Benedict and vice versa. In addition comedy, is generated as the audience instantly recognises that the three characters are deceiving the notorious Benedict, who despises love and wishes to die a bachelor.
Moreover, comedy is spawned within the gulling scene because of the over-exaggeration of the language. The utilisaton of the phrase ‘enraged affection’ juxtaposes the rage and love, in order to depict Beatrice as someone who is uncontrollably in love with benedict, and the rage represents her anger from this. Furthermore, this phrase is an example of oxy-moron when two opposite emotions are used to emphasize the joke. The contradiction of both words seemingly would not normally fit alongside each other that are a reason for the comedy generated. Moreover, Leonato uses the word ‘infinite’ to describe the love and affection Beatrice has for Benedict. The word infinite is another example of the overstressed language. In this case, this is an example of dramatic irony to generate humor as Benedict does not a he is being deceived to create mild conflict as well as mischief in a playful way.
A combination between the over-exaggeration and delivery of the language, in
the gulling scene creates the comedy. This is apparent when Claudio says ‘ she falls, weeps, sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses’; the language and terminology that is used is highly exaggerated of Beatrice’s love and affection. The exploitation of this list form, of various different verbs in the present tense to describe her true emotion, generates amusement for the audience. Also, the urgency and fabrication contrasted with the quick pace of the delivery of the lines, is a form of emotional blackmailing. This is the entire opposite against what we have seen of Beatrice and these motions go entirely against her philosophy.
This is similar to when Leonato responds to Claudio further fabricating her affection, when the term ‘ecstasy’ is employed. This is a sexual connotation for a sexual experience; reaching the climax/ orgasm that Beatrice feels when she is around Benedict. Linking back to the statement, it is clear to say that the deceit and the false report given by Leonato, Claudio and Don Pedro help in delivery the comedy to the audience.
In addition, another factor, which helps to generate the comedy in the gulling scene, is Benedict lack observance that he is being tricked and deceived intentionally. Benedict is portrayed in this scene as being unintelligent, which is a serious contradiction to previous scenes where the battles of wit alongside cunning and clever statements. His unintelligence is projected when he states that the information that Beatrice loves him is of the source ‘ the white bearded fellow’ otherwise known as Leonato. Not only is comedy generated through is foolish remark, but also the way he refers to Leonato in this way, the slang for wise and prudent. Our expectations of Benedict are mistaken therefore it creates humor.
In addition, the humor is created when Don Pedro states that Benedict has ‘contemptible spirit’, further justifying that Benedict deserved hatred for his lack of affection and care towards women. The comedy is generated, as we know that Benedict is carefully eavesdropping on the supposedly confidential conversation between the other characters, therefore his attitude and desire to prove them wrong in soliloquy part at the end of the act. Furthermore, when they contrast this with their description of Beatrice ‘an excellent sweet lady’, Benedict’s becomes frustrated with the faults in his
personality and the realization that he has suppressed his love, implies he has deceived himself as well.
In conclusion, it is debatable the key element in generating the comedy in the gulling scene however it is clearly evident that the use of over-exaggerated language, is vital. From, this scene we can now see that Benedict does not know his women as he says he does and his stupidity alongside his idiocy, helps benefits the comedy at hand. Furthermore, the influence that Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio have over Benedicts thoughts is a necessity for the comedy to be generated.
Courtney from Study Moose
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