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This was shown through the use of metaphors, repetition and antithesis. The first impressions of Benedick and Beatrice are of a proud misogynist and Beatrice is the parallel to Benedick: a strong willed woman who hates marriage. It is important to the text because it show not only love is a universal solvent between them but Shakespeare offer a fresh insight as well as a slight criticism of gender roles
In the beginning of the text, Benedick and Beatrice playfully show off their wits by engaging a ‘merry war betwixt’ them.
It is central that Shakespeare would have to impact the audience whether modern or especially the Elizabethan era with a pair of strong willed characters; whom the Elizabethans can relate to. Independent, assertive and unruly women commanded attention on stage, the traditional behaviour of femininity was under strain. Beatrice’s apparent indifference to marriage frees her to attack the vanity and hypocrisy of male privilege and honour.
The attack could be directed at Benedick, whose reputation as exploiter of male privileges, is exposed through his first defeat: ‘I would my horse had the speed of your tongue.
… I have done’. This illustrates that Beatrice’s wit is too quick for Benedick (‘speed of your tongue’) and he essentially concedes to her. Benedick’s pride and misogyny is shown through the use of repetition and antithesis. His character is arrogant and overpowering. When Claudio asked Benedick about Hero, Benedick ‘as being a professed tyrant to their [women’s] sex’ produces a witty remark.
He describes Hero, as ‘too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise. ’ This description employs the use of repetition and antithesis to communicate Benedick’s contempt for women. The repetition of the word ‘praise’ shows the understanding that women are subject to men’s approval. The use of antithesis and repetition shows that men are dominant. Benedick’s pride and misogyny is broken through the fierce but yet enduring love of Beatrice.
Benedick has a relationship which is important to the text. It is the relationship with Beatrice that makes the text so interesting. Benedict insults Beatrice with an animal image “you are a rare parrot teacher’ Beatrice counteracts by saying ‘A bird of your tongue is better than a beast of yours’. Benedick’s treatment of women could be viewed as animalistic (women are properties; you can sell or buy without a feeling of guilt) and he is a chauvinist. Furthermore, he wishes to ‘consume’ their ego.
Ironically, in the end, the relationship which Beatrice requires is a relationship deeply rooted in passionate commitment which transcends gender limitations and honour. It is for these reasons that make Benedick’s relationship with Beatrice so interesting The use of allusion and metaphors makes Beatrice’s relationship with Benedick so interesting and vital to the text. This is because Beatrice objects to male pretensions: would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered by a valiant piece of dust’. This perception of ‘valiant dust’ metaphor is very significant.
Men, whether valiant or not, would be always be insignificant and this make Beatrice metaphorically compares them to dust. The use of biblical allusion is also important to the text. In context, in the Bible, men come from dust and Beatrice thought that women are superior. This is because women came from the rib bone of Adam, a man. Beatrice, who hates marriage, is softened by deception. Beatrice’s relationship with Benedick is vital for the text. Mutual love detaches Beatrice and Benedick from Messina and connects them with something more permanent.
Beatrice exacts commitment to her, but not to abstract social ideals. She wants open, reciprocal love and sympathy and Benedick has the capability to give what she want or needs. The compromise that she asked Benedick reaches not to ‘woo peacefully’ but to retains some antagonism- ‘to love no more than reason’- guarantees balance and freshness through unceasing examination and constant redefinition. Benedick and Beatrice created a strong first impression. This was shown through the use of metaphors, repetition and antithesis.
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