Sometimes, when a man and a woman
Sometimes, when a man and a woman are interested in each other, they pretend to feel
exactly the opposite. They hide their feelings of love inside and act like they absolutely
hate each other. Being too proud to concede their love, they leave themselves vulnerable
to rejection by the other one, and they continue the farce. This situation is often
associated with relationships that take place during the adolescent stages of people’s
lives, but in Much Ado About Nothing these types of goings on take place between a
mature man and woman. These characters are Benedick and Beatrice. Every time they
met, battles of wit and words begin. Not one kind word was uttered between the two.
Their love was never to be realized though, until they both fell victim to underhanded
plots devised by their friends. Their odd road to romance was an aspect of the play that
was very pertinent to the plot and indeed something that would keep the reader’s
The notion that Beatrice was not fond of Benedick was conveyed very early in the
first act. As news of the arrival of Benedick and company to Messina was announced,
Beatrice immediately started to poke fun at him. She inquired as to who he had become
friendly with and then began to say she knew Benedick to be fickle and have a new
sworn friend every time that she sees him. This was the first clue to her distaste and also
lets one see that she had some sort of interaction with Benedick in the past that left her
feeling this way toward him. Soon after this scene, Benedick arrives and almost
instantaneously they began to quarrel with each other. They kept on bickering and
arguing, never letting the other get the last word in and never giving up any ground in
their battle. For each, their cunning wit was the weapon of choice. Judging by the way
that they seemed to have been acting, one would guess that there was a genuine hatred
between the two, but the way that they carried on makes one must think that there was
something more at hand. It might have clued the reader in to a suppressed sense of
competition between the two which could have been brought about by a sense of
insecurity that each of them possessed. They seemed to always need the approval of their
friends and could never possibly have given in to one another. This is evident because
their quarrels were always in public and neither of them ever wanted to lose those battles.
They never seemed to lose the anger that they possessed and always tried to get in the last
word, never conceding to the other at all. They always had be the victor in front of their
One night while at a masked ball under disguise Benedick goes to ask Beatrice to
dance with him. She, unknowing that it is he, went on to inquire about the masked man’s
knowledge of Benedick. She then went on to make fun of him, calling him a ‘jester’; and
a simple object of amusement to the Prince and all of his company. She lashed out even
more and said that they did not truly like him at all, and if it had not been for their
amusement by him, he would not be with them. Since Benedick was the man behind the
mask he was unable defend himself without having given up his identity, which then
would have created a scene with Beatrice. This was not something that he wanted, which
was obvious because he did go to her to dance and no one else. He was starting to show
the reader his interest in her and the way he did it under the comfort of the mask assures
that he would not to be ridiculed by her if she knew if it was him asking her to dance.
This proved the insecurity that he possessed. Though Beatrice gave fewer obvious clues
as to her interest in Benedick, one could have guessed that since she always was talking
and thinking about him that she must have possessed some kind of feelings for him.
Their feelings were starting to become a little bit more evident as the play unfolded
further. It was shown that they interacted frequently and always spoke of the other, even
when the other was not around. That was a major clue as to a relationship that might
transpire between the two apparent enemies.
The friends and companions of both Beatrice and Benedick realized the tension
between the two but saw it as playful flirting. Benedick had even told Claudio that he
had seen none ‘fairer’; then Beatrice early in the play, which solidified their suspicions.
They decide that they will put some effort into finally bringing the two enemies together.
The Prince, Leonato, and Claudio set forth to fool Benedick into submitting his love to
Beatrice. They found him when he was all alone and then walked along and as he hid,
and pretended not to see him. They then spoke of how Beatrice was in love with
Benedick, and that it was too bad because Benedick could never love her after all that he
had said. This triggered something inside Benedick that made him realize that he did
love Beatrice and now that he thought that her love of him was out in the open he was no
longer afraid of the ridicule that rejection would have brought about. He was going to
change his ways towards her and express his new found love. Beatrice was the victim of
a similar scheme by her friends Hero and Ursula. They spoke of how Benedick’s love of
Beatrice was useless because Beatrice could never love a man after all that she has said.
This prompted thoughts in her head similar to those in Benedick’s. They both now
thought that it was safe to let down their guard and admit their love. Due to the fact that
both of them were too insecure to do so at first, they had to be tricked into admitting their
love and halting the bickering. Though slowly at first, in gradual steps they began to
converse peacefully. Then, though still with some wit in public as to save some face,
they begin to become enamored with one another.
Trouble did not stay far from this growing relationship though. After Claudio
humiliated Hero at their proposed wedding, by accusing her of sleeping with other men,
Hero passed out. Claudio, the Prince, and Benedick all thought that she was dead as this
was what Leonato told them. Being a strong-headed woman and clearly upset by all of
this Beatrice ordered Benedick to go against his sworn friends and challenge Claudio to a
duel to avenge the death of Hero. Benedick unhappy, but unwilling to lose his love,
agrees and challenges Claudio. This shows just how truly in love with Beatrice that
Benedick was. He, just to keep Beatrice’s love, swore to challenge a man much more
experienced in battle than himself. Luckily, as the details unfolded and the Prince and
Claudio were informed of the trickery that was involved in their being led to believe that
Hero was unfaithful, the duel did not take place. The action that Benedick took was not
only a brave one but was a testament to his love for Beatrice. Benedick then proposed to
marry Beatrice in public, and she accepted. The two former enemies were now going to
be joined in holy matrimony.
The details of this odd relationship as they unfolded added a very scintillating
piece to the play. Benedick, seeming too proud to ever admit that he loved anyone, and
also having sworn on numerous occasions against marriage, was to ultimately be a
husband. His fear of being a cuckold in the eyes of his friends was finally put to the side
as he proposed to Beatrice. Beatrice, who once seemed too proud to love, was finally to
be wed to Benedick in spite of having sworn on numerous occasions against men all
together. Being a woman that prided herself on her wit and her ability to never seem
affected by anything, Beatrice was to now substitute those feelings for ones of love
toward Benedick. This match was certainly one that was perfect for a play. Two
apparent opposites were drawn together by their hidden affection for one another.
Though their love may never have come to be if it were not for the guile of their friends,
it eventually developed. This completion should give the reader a sense of happiness and
satisfaction. An emotion which would be shared with the once bitter Beatrice and Benedick.