William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
During Act 1 Scene 1 in Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ up
until Act three scene two, the development of Benedick and Beatrice’s
relationship is made clear to the audience. It is easy to compare the
nature of their feelings by the way their relationship contrast from
the beginning of this section toward the end. It is clear from the
start that their emotions towards each other are near hatred, but they
continue to change into love and passion as the play progresses,
enabling the audience to make a comparison. The way the relationship
is portrayed on stage will determine the audience’s interpretation of
the development of their bond.
In Act 1 scene 1, we learn the basics of Beatrice and Benedick’s
relationship. From Leonato’s words, we learn that there is a ‘merry
war’ between Beatrice and Benedick, and that that are continuously in
conflict. This immediately may suggest first signs of passion, as
traditionally hate is the first sign of love.
“There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her… there’s
a skirmish of wit between them,” Act 1 scene 1 lines 45-47
Although hate may be the first sign of love, this is the only
suggestion of it, and the audience are not specifically told whether
its passion or if they simply just do not get along. We also discover
that this ‘skirmish of wit’ has been present for a long time. At the
end of Benedick and Beatrice’s first argument, Beatrice states, ‘I no
you of old.’ Depending on how this is staged, the audience could be
given quite different impressions of how she feels towards Benedick.
As the play continues to progress, the audience see that both Beatrice
and Benedick have quite similar opinions of the opposite sex and
towards marriage. They both agree that marriage will hold them back,
and fear people may not have respect for them as strong-minded
individuals. They both very strongly state that they will die single,
and no man or woman will change this.
Benedick - “With anger, with sickness, or with hunger my lord, not
with love,” Act 1 scene 1 lines 184-185
Here, in a convocation with Don Pedro and Claudio, Benedick states how
he shall never fall in love, and he would rather die with sickness,
anger or hunger than love. Similarly, with Beatrice in Act two scene
one, lines 33-37, she declares why she will never marry, and how she
still intends to go to heaven. She has a logical reason for why she
will go to heaven; she feels as she will be a maid when she dies, and
that there is no place for good in hell, that the devil will send her
straight to heaven.
Beatrice - “There the devil will meet me… Beatrice, get you to heaven,
here’s no place for you maids.”
As you can see, both Beatrice and Benedick feel rather similarly about
their views of marriage.