1. In Act I, Beatrice and Benedick engage in a witty conversation, which Leonato describes as a playful battle: “There is a kind of / merry war betwixt Signor / Benedick and her. They never / meet but there’s a skirmish of wit between them” (1.1.58-59). Beatrice insists that she does not like Benedick at all, and insults him relentlessly throughout Act I: “It is so indeed. He is no less than a stuffed man. But for the / stuffing—well, we are all mortal” (1.1.47-48). Beatrice even goes so far as to compare Benedick to a disease when she finds out he has taken up a new best friend, Claudio: “O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease! He is sooner / caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad” (1.1.81-83). Although Beatrice seemingly detests Benedick, her statement (claiming that Benedick is an infection that’s easy to catch but hard to get rid of) unknowingly foreshadows her future. Despite her claims, I predict that Beatrice will fall in love and the man who will profess his love for her will be none other than Benedick! In fact, it seems that the two characters have not truly been fighting at all, but are actually flirting!
Benedick even makes a point to state that Beatrice is the only woman he knows who does not adore him: “Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of / all ladies, only you excepted” (1.1.118-119). It can be said that Beatrice and Benedick share mutual feelings for one another even though they conceal their affection through teasing antics. Since Beatrice made it a priority to ask the messenger about Benedick following the battle and considering that she often weaves his name into conversation, it can be concluded that she in fact loves Benedick. Claudio falls in love with Hero immediately after conversing with her: “That I love her, I feel” (1.1.218). He claims that he loves Hero, however he cannot bring himself to tell her himself; it is decided that Don Pedro will therefore disguise himself as Claudio at the costume party and profess “his” love for Hero as Claudio: “I will assume thy part in some disguise / And tell fair Hero I am Claudio, / And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heart” (1.1.309-311).
Claudio’s sheepishness to inform Hero of his feelings prose’s the question, is his love for her true? If Don Pedro hadn’t agreed to assist Claudio, then he probably wouldn’t have ever confessed his love to Hero! Claudio’s love for Hero is impulsive; he falls in love with her without even knowing her. His haste to love Hero could certainly cause him to rush into a relationship that he’s not necessarily ready for or possibly lead him to uncertainty if the relationship progresses. 2. Don John is the villain of the play and isn’t afraid to admit it: “In this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering / honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain / dealing villain” (1.3.28-30).
He only recently got back on “good terms” with his brother, Don Pedro; however, Don John is actually envious of his brother and abhors him because Don Pedro holds a higher position than he: “I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a / rose in his grace” (1.3.25-26). Don John is a gloomy character and enjoys causing mischief, especially when it will inflict pain upon his brother and his brother’s right-hand-man, Claudio. He dislikes Claudio because he claims that, “That young start-up hath all / the glory of my overthrow” (1.3.62-63).
Despite being melancholy at the start of Act 1 Scene 3, Don John quickly becomes blissful once he discovers he can cause trouble for his brother and Claudio with the woman Don John believes they intend to pursue: “Will it serve for any model to build mischief / on? What is he for a fool that betroths himself to / unquietness?” (1.3.43-45) and “Come, come, let us thither. This may prove food to my / displeasure” (1.3.52-53). Don John is a dark character that seeks revenge for the personal pain he has experienced from Don Pedro and Claudio. His anger may also stem from the fact that he is a “bastard” because he was most likely treated as an outcast all of his life as an illegitimate son.