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Compare the Audiences Reaction to Claudio and Benedick

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The audiences reactions to Claudio and Benedick and very different but the audiences reaction nowadays and in the 16th century when Shakespeare wrote this are not that different.

The modern and 16th century audiences first impressions of Claudio are that he is the perfect gentleman we get this impression from the conversation between Leonato and the messenger when Leonato says,

“He hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio.” (1.1.10)

And the messenger says,

“He hath bourn himself beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion.” (1.1.13)

Just these two quotes prove that they think that he is this perfect gentleman because he is a good soldier and good looking.

The two audiences reaction to Benedick are slightly different the 16th century audience think that he will be the entertainment because this is a comedy the has to be some kind of person who is stupid and is the entertainment in the play the modern audience think he is an idiot a lot of the words and quotes that prove this are said by Beatrice she says things like,

“Signor Mountanto?” (1.1.28)

“And a good soldier to a lady.” (1.1.50)

“He hath every month a new sworn brother.” (1.1.66)

“If he hath cough the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere ‘a be cured.” (1.1.82)

So what Beatrice is saying is that he is a ladies man, inconstant because he has a new best friend every month and she compares him to and disease and is saying that you will have to pay to get rid of it so this is also saying that he lives of other peoples money.

When we first meet Claudio the 16th century reactions haven’t changed a lot they still think he is the perfect gentleman and he is a very conventionally romantic this is backed up by when he says,

“Can the world but such a jewel?” (1.1.169)

“Hath Leonato any son, my lord?” (1.1.273)

When he says this about Hero the modern audiences just think that it is really cheesy and he is only saying this to marry hero but he also says

“Hath Leonato any son, my lord?” (1.1.273)

When Claudio says this he dose because he wants to know if Leonato has any sons so he can see if he marries Hero he will get all the inheritance so its like he doesn’t care about her he just wants the money and the town.

In the 2nd act we find out that Claudio is gullible, childish and a spoilt brat because he falls out of love with Hero at the slightest bit of doubt about Hero when Don John says,

“I heard him swear his affection.”(2.1.153)

“The prince woos for himself.” (2.2.159)

When Don Pedro is wooing Her Don John says he is wooing her for himself and then only 6 lines later Claudio repeats what he just said so he believes him and instantly falls out of love with Hero. Then as soon as Don Pedro says it’s not true he falls in love with her again so this proves that he is fickle.

Later on in the act when they are tricking Beatrice and Benedick to fall in love Claudio completely over dose his part.

Benedick in the 2nd act is out down by Beatrice at the ball so he is slightly annoyed about this because he says,

“She speaks poniards, and every word stabs.” (2.1.227)

Then when he is being tricked he believes every thing they say and this is mainly due to Leonato because he thinks that because he is old and the governor of Messina and he can’t lie.

“I should think this a gull, but that the white-bearded fellow speaks it;” (2.1.120)

At the start of this act the 16th century audiences think that he is gullible it’s in this act that we start to understand him and find out that he does have feelings. The modern audience think the same but they want him to get together with Beatrice and vice-versa because there are a couple of little thing that Beatrice says like,

“Nobody marks you.” (1.1.119)

This means nobodies listing to you but for Beatrice to say this then she would have had to been listing to him in the first place.

In act 3 Benedick comically role is taken over by Dogberry and the constables have taken over it from now on Benedick is more serious from now on.

After the 3rd act everything changes Claudio and Benedick swap places so that Claudio becomes the immature one who is always changing his mind and Benedick becomes the serious one and doesn’t change his mind because he sticks up for Hero when Claudio is shaming her.

In this act Claudio shames Hero at their wedding and this proves that Claudio is childish because this is the worst thing to do if he had been a gentleman and had any manners or feelings for Hero then he would have called off the wedding quietly the night before and not shammed her in front of all her friends and family. Claudio calls her a

“Rotten orange” (4.1.30)


This is another good example off how immature and fickle Claudio is because in the space of a couple of days Claudio’s description of Hero has gone from being the must beautiful jewel to a rotten orange.

The 16th century audience think that Claudio has the right idea to not marry Hero but dose it in the wrong way but shammed her at the wedding. This just proves that Claudio is spoilt and has to have every thing he wants.

The modern audience think that this was the wrong thing to do even if she was dishonourably and sleeping with other people

Benedick acts the complete opposite at the wedding he stays calm and stick up for Hero witch is a very brave thing to do because if Hero was dishonest then it would has coast him his honour.

The modern and 16th century audience think the same that Claudio is a spoilt and immature where as we start to like Benedick because he sticks up for Hero and is not saying anything stupid and out of tern like he did before.

One reason that we start to like Benedick more is because Dogberry has taken over his comical part so he doesn’t look stupid any more.

Benedick and Beatrice confuse to each other that they love each other in this act and Beatrice ask Benedick to kill Claudio and if he did then it would of made the play a tragedy and not a comedy.

“BEN: Come, bid me do anything for thee.

BEA: Kill Claudio.” (4.1.284-285)

In act five every thing is sorted out and every one is happy in the end Claudio and Hero get together and so do Beatrice and Benedick. Don Pedro and Claudio lose their honour when they insult Leonato by saying,

“Old man”(5.1.50)

Every time Claudio or Don Pedro refers to Leonato they call him Old man implying that he is old and can’t so anything.

Claudio and Don Pedro find out that Hero is dead in this act but Claudio doesn’t change his mind and still argues that he is innocent and Hero is still the guiltily one and its not his fault,

“yet sinned I not But in my mistaking.” (5.1.261)

But on the other hand Benedick has grown up and truly does love Beatrice because he does go and challenge Claudio and says the truth,

“You are a villain; I jest not” (5.1.142)

This is the first scene when Benedick doesn’t make a joke and he is totally serious and means what he says and he reinforces that Claudio is a childish by calling him “lack beard” because having a beard was seen as being a man.

The 16th century audiences’ opinion of Claudio is completely the opposite to what they thought at the being of the play. Claudio started off as the Brave, Romantic perfect gentleman and Benedick was the rude, unconventional romantic and at the end of the play they have completely swapped places.

When Claudio finds out that Hero is innocent but still thinks she is dead he changes his mind again and says he loves her this shows how fickle he is although the play he has fallen in and out of love with Hero. Then when he says he will marry Leonatos nice we think that he has changed and the he really did love Hero, but then at the wedding just before he is going to get married to Leonatos nice he says,

“Why, then she’s mine. Sweet, let me see your face.” (5.4.55)

So although Claudio has said that he will marry her he wants to see her face and by saying this he makes the audiences’ think that if she is not very pretty that he will not marry her and leave a 2nd women at the alter.

You can also see the difference between Claudio and Benedick in the language they use Claudio speaks in Rhyme witch is a fake but Benedick speak in verse witch is a much more real way to speak to some one you love so this is almost like Beatrice and Benedick love is real and Claudio and Hero is fake witch is probably true.

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