English essay, Much Ado About Nothing In this play, Shakespeare pairs of Hero with Claudio and Beatrice with Benedick. Using quotes from the play, discuss why Beatrice would never marry Claudio and why Benedick would not find Hero to be as suitable as a wife for him as Beatrice. In this essay, I am going to look at the characters of Benedick, Beatrice, Claudio and Hero and go into detail on what they are like and how they view love.
I will also look at why Beatrice and Benedick have a relationship and why Claudio and Hero also have a relationship but then specifically looking at why Beatrice would not marry Hero and also why Benedick would not marry Hero. From the beginning of the play, it is made very obvious that Benedick and Beatrice are suitable for each other and Claudio and Hero are suitable for each other. The reason for this is because Claudio and Hero’s character are very similar and they think in the same way just as Benedick and Beatrice think things and see things in the same way as each other.
In the Elizabethan times, Beatrice’s character would not be seen as a typical woman of the Elizabethan era. Beatrice is a very feisty, cynical, witty and sharp character who completely disagrees with the rights woman had in those times. Mainly throughout the play, Beatrice refuses to marry as she thinks she has not yet discovered the perfect, equal partner but also because she doesn’t want to eschew her liberty and submit to the will of a controlling husband. We know this because she quotes that she ‘cannot endure to hear tell of a husband’.
This tells us not only is she completely against the idea of marriage, but she is also a very independent and determined woman. Beatrice can also be seen as a vulnerable woman in some parts of the play, especially when she hears Hero describing that Benedick is in love with her she opens herself to the sensitivities and weaknesses of love. Beatrice says ’and Benedick, love on; I will requite thee, taming my wild heart to thy loving hand. If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee’.
Beatrice has suddenly fallen in love with Benedick and her vulnerability has overcome her as she is saying that if Benedick loves her, than carry on loving her and she will love him back. This is a major quote from Beatrice as this is where we see her changing the way she thinks and feels. A very strong contrast to Beatrice’s character would her cousins Hero’s character. Hero’s character is seen as a typical unmarried Elizabethan woman who is very innocent and obeys her father at all times. She is a very kind, loving, gentle and beautiful woman who is also very passive and forgiving.
When Hero is in mixed company she is quiet as she says more when she is with just woman. This may be because she sees herself lower down than men in society so feels to portray her acceptance of this; she has to not be heard in front of men. We can see that Beatrice’s and Hero’s characters are completely different; Hero is the weaker one, the small, pretty, silent girl while Beatrice is the vivacious, humorous and witty character. Despite their differences, they still get on very well. Benedick and Claudio’s characters are also are a very strong contrast to each other.
Benedick is a very clever, strong character, who is very independent but can be easily tricked. Like Beatrice he vows to also never marry saying that if he does ever marry ‘hang me in a bottle like a cat, and shoot at me’. He see’s marriage as such a bad thing and is sure he will never become of it so he makes up a consequence he wants people to do to him if he ever did end up marrying. Benedick engages with Beatrice in a competition to outwit and outsmart one another by insulting each other. His friends and other people see deeper than just the insults as they think both Benedick and Beatrice like each other.
Benedick hears Claudio and Don Pedro discussing Beatrice’s desires for him. When Benedick hears this, his emotions also overcome him just like Beatrice’s did. He quotes ‘I’m going to be horribly in love with her’. This is where we find out Benedick has fallen in love and he suddenly realises everyone about her he now loves. He doesn’t just love her for looks but for her personality also. Claudio on the other hand is very different. He is a young, brave man but he is also very immature. He falls in love with Hero the first time he sees her as soon as he returns back from war.
Claudio is too immature at first to know what love really is as he bases his love on looks, ignorance and wealth. He has to make sure his bride is rich before he marries her, which makes us wonder whether at this point, he really was in love. Hero and Claudio’s relationship is very different to Benedick and Beatrice’s relationship. In Hero and Claudio’s relationship, they base theirs on first impressions, ignorance and wealth as Claudio perceives Hero as the most ‘beautiful creature in the world’ and from this intends to marry her.
At this point he doesn’t actually know anything about her personality or what she is like to be with. This then shows how immature and young he is and that he is not actually ready to be in love. Claudio and Hero are both very young and innocent. Claudio and Hero are a prime example of the Elizabethan norm in marriage. Claudio is seen to be the shrewd, hard headed fortune hunter whereas Hero is the modest maiden of conduct books and marriage manuals and willingly and gladly submits to marriage.
Claudio is more concerned with advancement in army than he is in love. He sees his marriage to Hero to be an advantage to gain more wealth, possession and to become higher up in class and society. Through their marriage he has to learn that marriage is actually more important than advancement in business. Their relationship also illustrates the ‘cuckold’ fear that is very pertinent during Shakespeare’s time. One of the characters Don John deceives Claudio into thinking Hero has been unfaithful to him and so Claudio than decides he will not marry Hero anymore.
This is because any man in the Elizabethan times who has had his wife (or wife to be) cheat on them feels that they have become lower than women in their rights and feel very ashamed because women were considered possessions. Claudio would have felt this was the ultimate betrayal and a mortal wound to his self-esteem. Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship is the idealistic love of Shakespeare. Benedick admires Beatrice’s wit and quick tongue as this demonstrates she is far from being beneath him intellectually. Benedick and Beatrice strongly don’t believe love is just about looks which shows they have that in common with each other.
At first both Beatrice and Benedick completely detest the thought of marriage as Beatrice says ‘just, if he send me no husband; for the which blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face. I had rather lie in the woollen! ’ This quote tells us Beatrice doesn’t like the thought of marriage as she is saying that she prays every night to the Lord that he will not send her a husband. She also says that she could not stand to have a husband with a beard and that she would rather be wrapped in scratchy blankets all night.
We also know Benedick also hates the thought of marriage as he says ‘the savage bull may; but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull’s horns and set them in my forehead, and let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as they write. ’ Benedick equates marriage to being as bad as being whipped, tames and cuckolded. He knows marriage means having to sacrifice his independence and breaking his pride, and Benedick finds the prospect of losing either foolish. When they both fall in love with each other, she are ashamed of their feelings and really don’t want anyone to find out this is how they feel about each other.
Benedick tries to hide his feelings for Beatrice but we know he loves her when says ‘I would not marry her though she were endowed with all that, Adam had left him before he transgress’d’. We know that Benedick is bringing up the subject of Beatrice hear even though no one else had mentioned it. Him then stating so passionately that it is not on his mind, actually shows us that it is. Beatrice would never marry Claudio because they are both too different in character and Beatrice does not love Claudio and so she will only marry someone she truly loves like Benedick.
Beatrice is a very independent woman who doesn’t want to give up her independence to any man and so to marry Claudio, he would expect her to obey him and for him to class her as his possession which Beatrice simply would not allow. Beatrice also hates the thought of marriage at first whereas Claudio loves the thought of marriage. Also as in Shakespeare’s day, love at first sight was popular and so we know Beatrice and Claudio wouldn’t be able to marry each other because the woman has to be willing to marry a man they don’t know and hardly have met before.
She would not be happy to become the possession of Claudio and she certainly wouldn’t be one to be bossed around. Because Beatrice is so particular about the man she will marry and what he can and cannot be like or how, she wouldn’t be able to accept this. Claudio is very immature which I don’t think Beatrice would be able to put up with because she is a mature woman. Beatrice would refuse to marry a man who is too young for her or not manly enough as she says ‘he that hath no beard is less than a man’.
From this quote Beatrice is saying that if he doesn’t have enough facial hair than he is not manly enough to be her husband. Her view of a relationship is what we would think of a normal relationship today where you get to know the person you marry before you actually marry them, but in Claudio’s view and the majority of people in the Elizabethan era this was not generally associated with happening. As well as Beatrice never marrying Claudio, Benedick would not find Hero as a suitable wife for him because they both come from different backgrounds and Hero’s father would not be happy with their marriage.
The reason for this is because Leonato would prefer Claudio to marry Hero so Hero could get a higher rank whereas Benedick would not be able to give her that. Benedick also doesn’t just go for the beauty of the woman but he likes a good personality and a good humour. As Hero is a very quiet woman who doesn’t say much, men would just want to marry her because of her beauty and not actually knowing a lot about her. Benedick says that ‘I neither feel how she should be loved, nor know how she should be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me.
I will die in it at the stake. ’ This quote backs up the known fact that Benedick hates beauty and he makes it very clear that beauty cannot move him to love. He is also hinting that maybe more meaningful traits like personality could move him. Benedick doesn’t love Hero and it is very obvious that Hero and Benedick would not be right together. Benedick would also only marry someone he has got to know and truly loves just like Beatrice would as his and Beatrice’s views of love are very different to Claudio and Hero’s views of love.
From looking at why Beatrice would never marry Claudio, and why Benedick would never marry Hero, it is clearly obvious why Benedick and Beatrice and Claudio and Hero got married in the end. Beatrice’s determination and stubbornness of not wanting to marry is very much like Portia, a character from ‘The Merchant of Venice’ also written by Shakespeare. Both arc female characters with dominate comedy which attract men like Benedick. Both women address the inequalities of 16th century marriage and attack the patriarchal nature of marriage in society.
After establishing their disapproval for the social structure of marriage, they both consent to marriage, determining that marriage will allow them to live the best possible life in their society. This is therefore why Benedick and Beatrice end up marrying each other and why Benedick and Hero could not possibly love each other. Beatrice and Claudio characters are also far too different to be able to work together and Claudio wouldn’t be able to cope with Beatrice’s stubbornness and determination and not always doing what someone has said. So this is why Claudio and Hero got married as their characters are far more similar to each other’s.