The relationship between Beatrice and Benedick develops throughout the early stages of Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare. Past encounters between the two characters ignites a skirmish of wit between the two where they attempt to get inside each other’s head. The wittiness used by Beatrice and Benedick also suggests that there is a deeper meaning behind what they say and that they are deceived by their own foolishness. When we are first introduced to Beatrice and Benedick we learn of the ‘merry war’ between them. This skirmish of wit that occurs invokes past encounters. The two exchange a volley of sly and witty comments. As Beatrice ‘knows [him] of old’ she believes that Benedick is a ‘crow’ and is no more than a ‘very dull fool’. On the other hand, Benedick’s ‘commendation is not in his wit, but in his villainy’.
Benedick chooses to snipe at Beatrice and ‘always ends with a Jade’s trick’. These exchanges of witty comments between the pair suggest that there is a deep tension between them. It is revealed of the start of the play that the pair new each other ‘of old’, they were in a relationship and that this ‘merry war’ was expected of them in the Shakespearian society. The comments that are exchanged during this ‘merry war’ suggest that there is a deeper meaning behind their witty remarks and that their relationship could be far more meaningful then it currently is. This skirmish of wit between the two is deceptive. They do not want to show their actual feelings for one another.
Beatrice believes that Benedick’s supposed image of himself being ‘loved by all ladies’ is full of arrogance and extremely unlikely. However this link between Benedick and his love for Beatrice portrays the idea that she may indeed have feelings for Benedick and that he is not just a ‘beast’. Although Beatrice’s comments are ruthless and unforgiving, we get the feeling that because of the wittiness of them and the tone of her voice that she doesn’t really mean them and that she is afraid of opening up about ‘loving’ Benedick. The two also share the same opinion about love, Beatrice would ‘rather hear [her] dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves [her]’, this is one of the very few qualities that Benedick admires about Beatrice and that she should ‘keep [her] ladyship in that mind’.
This reference to love by Shakespeare gives a sense of anticipation that there are feelings between Beatrice and Benedick that are to develop throughout the play. The ‘merry war’ between Beatrice and Benedick is unwanted and unhealthy for both Beatrice and Benedick. It is obvious that both characters have strong feelings for one another and they are just deceiving themselves if they think otherwise. I think that Beatrice and Benedick are better off when they are together, like at the end of the play. With the feelings that Beatrice and Benedick feel for each other I do not believe that this ‘merry war’ could have continued.
Courtney from Study Moose
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