In Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing two characters stand out more than any others (except for Benedick and Beatrice), not for their dynamic personalities, but for their lack thereof; these two characters are of course Hero and Claudio. Hero and Claudio’s one dimensional personalities are there, I believe, not because Shakespeare got lazy, but because they boost and add dimension to Benedick, and Beatrice, and make the love of these characters truer, stronger, more real, and more believable.
The audience gets its first taste of Hero and her docile character in the first scene, although she only has one line, it is made plain that she is Leonato‘s daughter, and is “like an honorable father,” (I, i, 117) in the way that she behaves in a docile and modest manner. I think Benedick states it best “I noted her not; but I looked on her,” (I, i, 171). This is exactly how we feel as an audience; she said little and does not posses the spirit, or passion to say more: just look to what Claudio says about her; “is she not a modest young lady?” (I, i, 172), and the answer is yes, too modest. Beatrice on the other hand, is fluid and intriguing; we have definitely “noted her,” and not for her modesty. In the opening scene she is portrayed as an intense character full of life and we definitely see the “skirmish of wit between [Beatrice and Benedick],” (I, i, 51).
In reading this scene, we see the “merry war” of Beatrice and Benedick, and feel that these two characters are much more suitable for love, than are Hero and Claudio. Also, we get the first inklings of romance between them; they are both sides of the same coin, and through their fiery discourses we see they are of like mind, and know that they are destined to be together. Through both Branagh, and Emma Thompson’s performance of these two characters we can see that they are more complex and need more inticiment to go for love at first sight.
Claudio and Hero are the complete opposite. They do not talk to each other at all in the first scene, but we are to believe that Claudio has fallen in love with her (or with her estates, being the sole heir to Leonato‘s fortunes) just by looking on her. It is easy to believe and understand Benedick’s skepticism, even though he is a “professed tyrant of love.”
Claudio: In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.
Benedick: I can see yet without spectacles and I see no such matter…(I, i, 196-99)
We may have said the same, especially if we were Benedick; we do not
even know who Hero is, or what she is like, besides modest, Leonato‘s daughter, and fatherly in her behavior. Beatrice, on the other hand, is a much more interesting character, albeit not the “sweetest” of ladies.
In the film version directed by Kenneth Branagh, he tries to show the apparent spark of love between Claudio and Hero, with smiles and quick fleeting glances. Hero looks smitten, like a little girl with her first crush, and runs off to...