Benedick’s attitude to love & marriage in ‘‘Much Ado About Nothing’’ In the play ‘‘Much Ado About Nothing’’ by William Shakespeare, the character of Benedick shows mixed emotions towards loves and marriage throughout. In the two extracts we studied, Benedick shows a large contrast of opinions: In Act 1 Scene 1, Benedick portrays strong feelings of contempt towards love and marriage, whereas by Act 2 Scene 3, Benedick has completely changed his views and he is prepared to make the commitment and marry Beatrice, a woman he appeared to dislike in the beginning of the play and who seemed to have mutual feelings towards Benedick. Act 1 Scene 1 portrays that Benedick has a very negative attitude towards love and marriage. When conversing with Claudio about the supposedly beautiful and admirable Hero, to whom Claudio is in love with, Benedick makes the statement ‘’I noted her not, but I looked on her’’. Usually the two words ‘‘noted’’ and ‘‘looked’’ would have the same meanings, but Shakespeare is inferring that they have two different meanings behind them. What Benedick is declaring by this sentence is that he acknowledged the existence of Hero, but never really gave her a second glance, which implies that he does not find her desirable like Claudio does and is not interested in her. This suggests that maybe Benedick has an unusual attitude towards the opposite sex, as Hero is the woman that all the men are in love with and because of this, it may give everyone else the image that he is not looking for a relationship or is not interested in finding love. When questioned by Claudio about his apathy towards Hero, Benedick states ‘‘methinks she’s too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise and too little for a great praise’’. The message Benedick is trying to get across is that he thinks Hero has too many faults and imperfections; that he’s not good enough for her and doesn’t meet his standards. This also suggests that Hero might be too common and perhaps doesn’t catch Benedick’s eye because there is nothing special about her. Because of this, he feels that she is not worth it and therefore is not interested. Benedick also shows that he does not seek out Hero as a partner when he exclaims ‘‘that I neither feel how she should be loved, nor know how she is worthy, is the opinion fire cannot melt out of me’’. What Benedick intends to express by this is that he doesn’t know what the fuss is about with her and why all the men are in love with her, because he feels she is not worthy of this love and affection. Benedick uses the use of hyperbole in the
phrase ‘‘fire cannot melt out of me’’ to mean that nothing in the world will make or force him change his opinion and shows that this is in issue Benedick feels very strongly about. Benedick appears adamant that he will not marry and tells his friends to ‘‘hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot at me’’ if he ever does (BBC GCSE Bitesize). Benedick is also surprised when he hears about Claudio’s love and admiration for Hero and asks ‘‘I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you?’’ meaning that he doesn’t want Claudio to be impulsive or foolish and marry her. Benedick also tells Claudio ‘‘and thou wilt needs thrust the neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh away Sundays,’’ meaning that he thinks marriage is torturous and hard-work, and that people are only marrying because of the sake of marrying. He uses the word ‘‘yoke’’ to describe the torture. Benedick is suggesting that marriage weighs down on a person just like a yoke might weigh down on an animal, and that it might be quite painful. This shows how opposed to marriage Benedick is, that he views it as a kind of punishment. He also states ‘’I will live a bachelor,’‘ meaning that he will live his entire life an unmarried man, never marrying or wanting to marry, because he believes he will never love a woman. It also shows that Benedick is independent (BBC GCSE Bitesize) and wants to oppose his friends, who...
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