University of China

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Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am a lecturer from the University of China, and I shall be presenting my analysis of an extract in Much Ado About Nothing written by William Shakespeare. This extract takes place in Act 1, Scene 1, lines 119 to 163. It is situated right after Leonato invites Don, Claudio, and Benedick to be his guests during their visit, and Pedro ends before Don Pedro offers to arrange Claudio’s marriage. This extract contains themes, characters and literary techniques which are vital in the construction of the play.

The development of this extract assists in constructing the theme deception in the play. In the first half of the extract, deception is observed through Benedick and Claudio’s exchange.

When Claudio states, “Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me truly how thou likest her”( Line 131), audiences see that Claudio is unable to accept Benedick’s opinion of Hero, which is nothing more than a short, dark, and small women.

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Benedick’s constant doubt of Claudio’s love is also apparent when he says “Come, in what key shall a man take you, to go in the song?”(lines 137 to 138) The distrust between the two shows us that lies and deceit is common in the Elizabethan society. This theme of deception is further developed when Benedick comments, “Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment, or would you have me speak after my custom” (Lines 122 to 124)

This quote indicates that Benedick is capable to view women differently in his “true judgment” without relating them to his “customs”, which is his supposed hatred towards women.

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Here, the mask motif is strong as audiences witness two sides to Benedick, one a misogynist and the other, an individual with a more neutral view towards women. On the other hand, the theme of love is first established by this extract. This is seen in the first line, when Claudio’s attraction for Hero is first revealed, “didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?”(line 119) This is followed by Benedick implying his attraction for Beatrice, as seen when he says “were she not possessed with a fury.'(line 141)

This extract introduces the two future couples and foretells the obstacles that need to be overcome in the future, giving the play its story. Audiences see these obstacles through Benedick’s fear of being cheated on, “In faith, hath not the world one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion?”(line 146 to 147) The theme of love introduced by this extract helps plot these complications that will construct the play. The characters that appear in this extract are Claudio, Benedick and Don Pedro. Firstly, Shakespeare characterises Claudio as a conventional lover by demonstrating his abrupt love for Hero, he is instantly smitten by Hero due to her looks even without any prior conversation.

Lastly, Don Pedro is depicted as a respected noble man and soldier, who is powerful and influential. His authority is seen when he returns to call the privately conferring Claudio and Benedick to their duties to Leonato. The literary techniques predominant in this extract are the use of irony and word play. Irony mocks Benedick’s lack of self-knowledge and provides humour to the play. In this extract, Benedick is quick to ridicule women and love and even tries to stop Claudio from falling in love. However, at the end of the play, he turns to the very individual that he swore never to be. “With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest I love thee” (4.1.270).

This extract depicts Benedick as a misogynist which is the side to him prior realising to his love for Beatrice. The use of irony demonstrates Benedick’s love for Beatrice in a humorous and mocking manner. In addition to that, the first instance of wordplay on nothing and noting is first seen when Claudio says “Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?”(line 119) and Benedick replies “I noted her not; but I looked on her.”(line 120) This dialog establishes the two meanings of note to audiences, which is to observe and study.

The themes of deception and love are first established by this extract. While much about Benedick is revealed in his conversation with Claudio. The irony in this extract lays the groundwork for the theme of love whereas the wordplay on noting and nothing hints the basis for all the complications.

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University of China. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/university-of-china-new-essay

University of China

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