Audience Response To Benedick In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing

1068 words - 4 pages

The machinations of Claudio and Don Pedro initially bring Beatrice and Benedick together, despite their initial dislike for each other. A previous relationship is the probable root of both character’s intolerance and ‘postures of hostility’ towards marriage and the opposite sex. Throughout the play Beatrice and Benedick engage in a ‘war of wit’, whereby they both exercise their impressive, quick, humour, as a mechanism of defence against one another. This immediately depicts there is going to be an element of comedy in the play, and both characters are a source of entertainment.

Their use of chorus, rhyme, wit and sarcasm are well used theatrical techniques employed by Shakespeare. The purposes of these devices include: Encouraging the audience to ‘enter’ the play and imagine the scenes for themselves, framing the plot of the play, as a way of interpreting the events for the audience, and to help the audience to understand the play’s plot and themes. An example of this is where, in A1 S1, Beatrice and Benedick engage in a squabble in which Benedick insults Beatrice- ‘A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours…’, and she concludes by saying, ‘You always end with a jade’s trick, I know you from old.’
Shakespeare’s use of dramatic irony is particularly relevant during the scene in which the conspirers (Leonato, Claudio and Don Pedro) manage to convince Benedick that Beatrice loves him, by setting him a trap. They have a conversation about the fact that Beatrice loves Benedick so that he can eavesdrop. When he hears them talking, he will believe that Beatrice is in love with him and act upon his knowledge.
The audience is interested in this plot, as "counterfeiting" and deception are themes that run through the play. We are led to feel that deception is not always totally bad as it can have some powerful results. It is comical because the audience knows more about the situation than the characters on stage.
We are led to believe that Beatrice’s opinion of Benedick is that he is superficial, more so about appearance and ‘words’ than reality. This shows Beatrice’s sensitivity and feminine objectives. Perhaps she is not completely opposed the concept of establishing a long-term relationship and even marriage, though this is contradictory to what we are told in the play. The following quote, by Damien Lewis, who is to play Benedick in the BBC drama of much ado about nothing, demonstrates this. ‘The conceit on Benedick is terrific because his vanity never leaves him fully.’
Although Benedick is conveyed as a quick, witty character who has just returned from fighting in a war- the effort to which he goes to communicate with Beatrice could be perceived by the audience as a sign of affection, and desire. As suggested by J.H Walter, ‘…he enhances her wit, her essential quality…he is the only one whom she can communicate with on equal terms throughout the play.’ This illustrates that there is an elaborate, subtle connection between the two and...

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