The Function of Deceit
Deceit functions in many ways throughout the play Much Ado About Nothing
characters use deceit to conceal, to assist and to trick. Benedick, Beatrice, Claudio, Hero and Don John are all affected by the functions of deceit throughout the play, the heroes use it to bring people together and the villain uses it to rip relationships apart. One of deceit’s functions is to conceal. Deceit conceals Benedick’s and Beatrice’s love for each other. Throughout the play both Benedick and Beatrice exchange playful banter. For example in Act 1, Scene 1, one of Beatrice’s first lines is a witty assault at Benedick’s expense. “It is so indeed. He is no less than a stuffed man. But for the stuffing well, we are all mortal,” (I.i. 3). Leonato’s character even explains their banter as a “merry war,” as to say that Benedick and Beatrice don’t necessarily mean what they say. The audience is therefore able to watch in amusement as Benedick and Beatrice participate in merry wars. Shakespeare plays with the idea of Benedick and Beatrice almost hating each other until deceit is once again used, but this time to assist in the love of two witty opponents. Another function of deceit in
Much Ado About Nothing,
is its function of assistance.
Deceit assists in the love that blossoms between Benedick and Beatrice. Near the middle of the play, Act 2 Scene 3, deceit is used by a cadre of cupids, Leonato, Don Pedro and Claudio, to deceive Benedick into thinking Beatrice loves him. Hero and Ursula also don their cupids arrows and deceive Beatrice into thinking Benedick loves her. These separate scenarios create much humor, as it shows that both Benedick and Beatrice are not as smart as they seem. Claudio doing his part tricking Benedick, “Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told
me of today, that your niece Beatrice was in love with Signor Benedick?” (II.iii.5). Here Ursula ...
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