How the Negative and Positive Impacts of Love Are Explored Using Various Main Characters in the Play ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

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The negative and positive impacts of love are explored using various main characters in the play ‘Much ado About Nothing’. The play was written by Shakespeare in the Elizabethan era and therefore love was portrayed in a very different way, they would have seen a woman as less important in a relationship; in this era however we have very different views and see both genders as equal. Consequently as the play progresses the Elizabethan audience would relate a lot more to the courtly love that Hero and Claudio comprise. The more unconventional relationship between Beatrice and Benedick may relate more to the relationships in this day and age. The strongest bond of love is between Beatrice and Benedick due to their cerebral relationship, a meeting of minds, as well as having a fun relationship grounded on loyalty. They experience negative impacts of love before the positive impacts; unlike Hero and Claudio’s relationship. It seems idealistic; love at first sight; however their bond was not strong enough to last when severely tested. This proved that their relationship was founded on social acceptance and practicality. They were not equals. These ideas about the strong feelings of love and their negative and positive impacts can also be explored in a selection of pre 20th century poems. Beatrice and Benedick have a relationship that consists of witty argument and they both have a very negative attitude towards love. However as the play progresses-despite being so against the idea of love their opinions change and they gradually, unconventionally find out that they confused their love with anger and they do love each other; they finally realise that they enjoy their arguments and what they hated about each other they actually loved, they have a partnership. Benedick says right at the beginning of the play ‘I will live a bachelor.’ This short declarative statement shows us how adamant and confident he is about not falling in love and marrying, he is confident in his decision. He is worried about being cuckolded, made fun of. When Don Pedro says to Benedick ‘In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke’ (suggesting to Benedick that in time he will soon settle down and marry) Benedick carries on with the pun; he says ‘The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull’s horns, and set them on my forehead....’Here you may see Benedick the married man’. This suggests that he refuses to believe he will ever calm down enough to submit to love and will never be the ‘savage bull’ who will bear the yoke of a woman’s will as Don Pedro suggested. He mocks the idea- he is too sensible and rational to give in to the irrational ways of love. He says that he would have horns clapped on his head and writing branded into his forehead (a cuckold) suggesting that he thinks that any woman he marries would definitely cheat on him. He doesn’t want to be made look less masculine by a mere woman. He thinks that love makes him vulnerable. This fear of being rejected and wounded is also represented in the poem ‘My Last Duchess’. The man in the poem is possessed by a sense of self importance, he is paranoid that his ‘Duchess’ is looking at other men and cheating on him supported by the quote ‘her looks went everywhere’. This is what Benedick thinks will happen to him, he is worried that if he does ever marry, the woman would still be interested in other men, and this would ruin his masculinity. Despite this, when Claudio is talking to Benedick about Hero he says that he does not like her, he states that if Beatrice ‘were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her (Hero) as much in beauty as the first May doth the last of December.’ So even though he has no intention in becoming married, he prefers the fact that Beatrice is bold and strong willed compared to the quaint and fair Hero. They have a relationship that is a lot more cerebral, they do not fall in love at first sight and they are too strong willed to woo each other in the...
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