Much Ado About Nothing

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Much Ado About Nothing Essay
How is Benedick’s attitude to love and marriage presented by Shakespeare in Act 2 Scene 3, lines 181-213 and how does this differ from Act 1 Scene 1, lines 119-182? Shakespeare’s play, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ has a similar plot to a modern romantic comedy: the lovers fall apart from an obscure twist (generally deception for being unfaithful or disloyal to your partner), but later on, all of those problems would be resolved when the villain admits to his crime or gets discovered. This confession would bring the lovers back together again, in which the comedy would have ended. Romantic comedies would also use very similar devices such as puns, play on words, repetition, elements of surprise, stupidity or hyperbole. These devices were all used in the play, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, which helped emphasise parts of the play or make it seem more humorous. The title ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ also suggests to us that the actors have been quarrelling for no particular reason; we will expect a great amount of misunderstanding which follows the plot of a romantic comedy. ‘Nothing’ (from the play’s title) has a double meaning, which sounded very similar in the Elizabethan and Jacobethan reign. Both Benedick and Claudio talk about ‘Noting’ (observing) Hero, Leonato’s daughter which is also seen in other parts of the play. There are a lot of ‘notings’ as well as ‘nothings’.

In Act 1 Scene 1, Benedick has strong feelings about his misogyny which are immediately showed after Claudio admitting his love to young Hero. In the quotation, ‘Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad brow? Or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a good harefinder and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in what key shall a man take you, to go in the song?’ (Act 1 Scene 1 lines 135-138) is where Benedick is questioning Claudio’s love for Hero. The sentence from the quotation, ‘Or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a good harefinder and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in what key shall a man take you, to go in the song?’ tells us that Benedick is finding this all as an amusement so he pretends to think that Claudio is mocking him by marking bizarre remarks. He also uses a series of questions to show his disbelief of Claudio’s confession and his change of attitude to women. The word ‘case’ also emphasises that Benedick also speaks of Hero as possession which he can hide away whenever he desired. This shows us clearly that in the play, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, women lived in a patriarchal society, even in the Elizabethan and Jacobethan period: women lived in a male-dominated society. This makes the character seem very dedicated to his beliefs, but expresses his opinions to other people in a witty way.

The quotation, ‘Is’t come to this? In faith, hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of three score again? Go to, i’faith, and thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh away Sundays. Look, Don Pedro is returned to see you. ’ (Act 1 Scene 1 lines 146-150), tells us that Benedick thinks that marriage is a trap; it is servile and boring. He thinks that every wife is going to cheat on their husband one time in their life, so this tells us that women were normally mistrusted. Benedick thinks that spending every bit of spare time around your wife is a waste of time, when you can actually enjoy life of a bachelor. ‘Sigh away Sundays’ is used because Sundays were known as the only day of free time in the Elizabethan and Jacobethan period. This was where the townsmen met for church in the morning, gossiped, played games and enjoyed drinking a couple pints of ale. So, unfortunately, if you were married all the spare time would have evolved round your wife. In Branagh’s version of Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick strains from disbelief, anger rising, while nearly spitting out the words from his disgust....
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