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The Characters of Benedick and Claudio and feelings of love Towards Hero and Beatrice

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Maan is a tragi comedy with the main plot revolving around the love interests of the two couples, Beatrice and Benedick, Hero and Claudio.

The play is set in Messina Italy and begins as the men are returning from war as victors. Love and romance are ver much in the air, given that both sexes have been deprived of each other’s company for a considerable amount of time. As the play develops, we see how the 4 lovers are very different as individuals as is each of their views on love.

Our first impressions of Claudio are not that of a man who takes love very seriously but one who considers it to be another hobby used to take up the time especially now he has returned from war. “But now I am returned, and that war thoughts have left their places vacant, in their rooms come thronging soft and delicate desires, all prompting me how fair you Hero is.” This tells us two things about Claudio, that he has based his feelings for Hero purely upon physical attraction because he is describing how lovely she is without actually having engaged in conversation with her and that he perceives love as a hobby. His main priority was fighting in war, now that he has returned from his duties he needs something to occupy his time and he feels love is on the cards. This shows Claudio to be very immature and shows that he doesn’t take love seriously. Claudio’s feelings for Hero are very superficial and shallow as he decides he is going to marry her the moment he sees her.

He uses the phrase “in mine eye” to indicate that he thinks she is beautiful, again basing his feeling upon physical beauty not personality. Claudio asks the opinions of his friends several times “tell me how thou likest her”. This shows us that Claudio needs a lot of reassurance and needs to be given confidence in his opinions. He seems to be extremely gullible and easily lead. It is apparent that his friends opinions on Hero matter to him and we get the impression that if his friends disapproved or didn’t like Hero he would be easily swayed into being put off the idea of marriage. It seems that he puts his social stature before his feelings for Hero. Another substantial reason for Claudio’s motives for marriage are expressed when he asks Don Pedro “Hath senior Leonato any son, my lord?” and Don Pedro replies ” no child but Hero, she is his only heir.”

This means that if Claudio marries Hero he will inherit all her father money, another reason why Claudio would want to marry Hero but not for romantic reasons. Claudio also portrays his immaturity on many occasions in the play, which shows that he is evidently not ready for the commitment marriage entails. He asks Don Pedro arrange the marriage and proposals, I feel that if he loved her enough he would at least ask her to marry him in person and not get his friend to do it for him. During this period in the play we also hear Leonato telling Hero to agree if Don Pedro asks her to marry him, as getting married was a filial duty. Hero and Claudio hardly converse at all in the play and they are not aware of the others personality I do not think this is a good basis for a relationship of any kind.

The first impressions of Benedick are totally contrasting to those of Claudio. The first time Benedick is mentioned is when Beatrice refers him to as “senior montanto”; she asks, “is senior Montanto returned from wars or no?” This shows 3 things, one that Beatrice is interested in the well being of Benedick, that she already knows of him and that their relationship is of a comical genre because of the nickname she chooses to give him. It also gives us an insight into the character of Beatrice. She is probably one of the strongest characters Shakespeare has ever written. She is very quick witted and not afraid to speak her mind you could almost say she is the complete opposite of her cousin Hero. Benedick has an argument with Beatrice the moment they are re-introduced about love and marriage. They clearly know each other well, as it is highly unlikely they would spark up an argument if they didn’t know each other.

The two seem to be at each others necks in the play until the way they really feel is brought to our attention as if the arguments were to hide the way they really felt because they both knew their feelings were so strong they couldn’t find a middle ground and a friendship would not work as their feelings of love would only increase. After the climax of their argument in the beginning of the play Beatrice says, “you always end with a Jade’s trick. I know you of old.” This again shows that Beatrice knows Benedick well but it also shows that they have had a previous relationship that ended in heartbreak, for Beatrice at least. Her tone when she says this also says a lot about her feelings, She usually lets Benedick know how she feels and is not afraid to speak her mind but this phrase is said quietly to herself indicated she is secretly hurt by the all the arguments they are constantly engaging in. This also comes to light later in the play when Beatrice says to Don Pedro “I lent it him a while, a double heart for his single one.

Marry, once before he won it of me with false dice. Therefore your grace may truly say I have lost it.” This shows us that when they did have a previous relationship Beatrice was more into it than Benedick was and he won her over with false words. Here we realise that maybe another reason why Beatrice is nasty to Benedick is because he broke her heart. Beatrice and Benedick have built barriers against each other based on pride because of the way they were hurt by each other before and they don’t think they could go through that torment again. Whilst talking to Claudio about Hero, Benedick compares her with Beatrice “there’s her cousin. An she were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her in beauty as the first of May doth the last of September”. Here Benedick is telling Claudio how Beautiful he thinks Beatrice is but he is put off by her bad temper, I think this is because in Shakespeare’s time women were meant to be seen and not heard and Beatrice’s fiery personality and strong values and morals may result in public embarrassment for Benedick.

Benedick repeatedly says that he does not want to get married and wishes that other men didn’t spoil their lives like that. This gives us an insight into Benedick’s fears, I believe he says he doesn’t want to get married so in the eventuality that he doesn’t find anyone who would agree to marry him he can simply refer to the fact that he never wanted to marry in the first place. Of course we are made aware that he doesn’t really feel like this later on in the play when he is tricked into believing Beatrice is in love with him, when this happens his opinions change drastically.

Benedick can also be quite arrogant with regards to women he is heard saying “That a women conceived me I thank her” as if to say whoever brought me into the world must have been a good person, this could prove a downfall in any relationship. So our first impressions of the two men and the relationship they strive after are that Claudio’s love for Hero is based mainly upon appearance and social stature, personality is not a factor whereas Beatrice and Benedick know each other well they have had a previous relationship and they are in touch with each others personalities and have a lot in common. Beatrice and Benedick come across unconventional in their talk, attitude and behaviour towards love yet they are probably more realistic than Hero and Claudio who are conventional yet unrealistic, They are both in love with the idea of being in love and are both hopeless romantics.

Claudio seems to have fallen in love virtually at first sight. It is clear that they have met before and been attracted to each other but Claudio has been involved in a war-now he has time to fall in love. Benedick’s attitude towards falling in love is totally different, he blatantly refuses to fall in love with anyone but the perfect woman “till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace” this part of the play is very ironic because when he happens to describe his perfect woman he basically describes Beatrice. When Benedick is tricked into thinking that Beatrice is in love with him his opinions on love quickly change “Love me! Well it must be requited…I did never think to marry…for I will be horribly in love with her…When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I would live till I were married! This shows us how quickly his feelings changed when he thought there might be a chance of him and Beatrice getting back together. He is quick to make excuses for things he has said in the past and he knows the other men will ridicule him but he doesn’t care although the word “horribly” does indicate that getting back together with Beatrice would be an unpleasant experience on his part. I think the fact that he falls in love even against his own will proves how deep his feelings really are but I do not agree that he should automatically pretend he’s in love with her just because she loves him because that is just lying to both partners and will just end in even more hurt.

Claudio makes a scene of his love for Hero but Benedick keeps it to himself he only tells Leonato, before telling Beatrice his feelings-in private. He believes it is between those two and should not be a public display; this shows his maturity. Benedick also expresses his maturity when faced with problems, a quality Claudio does not possess. When tricked by Don John he automatically believes him over his supposed best friend Don Pedro but instead of confronting Don Pedro he goes away in a sulk. This shows him to be a coward and also very gullible as he knows Don John can’t be trusted but believes him over his honest loyal best friend who is highly respected. What is even more unbelievable is that days later Don John tries to trick him again and he still trusts him and falls straight into his trap but yet again Claudio decides not to speak to Hero about what he saw, Instead he decides to publicly humiliate her mainly because his pride was hurt and he wanted her to fell the same humiliation as he had felt the night before. Claudio was apparently deeply in love with Hero but its seems unlikely his feelings could have been that deep as he manages to go on with his life, seemingly happy and laughs at her fathers anger after her death.

If he had been as deeply in love with her as he had made out he would have at least been upset that the woman he loved had been unfaithful. The way Claudio reacted show us that he had no trust in Hero this would effect any relationship they were intending on pursuing, it could lead to possessiveness on Claudio’s part and I’m sure it would make Hero feel a little untrustworthy and she may believe she is doing something wrong. Benedick on the other hand reacts to the situation completely differently he thinks things through before he jumps to any conclusions and he automatically suspects Don John “the practice of these lies in John the Bastard whose spirits toil in frames of villainies.”

This shows us that Benedick is aware of the people around him and that he does join in on embarrassing Hero before he knows what has happened, he is one of the people responsible for working out what really happened which shows his loyalty to Beatrice as Hero is her cousin. I think Benedick is devoted to Beatrice and he proves this when they declare their love for each other and Benedick says “come bid me do anything for thee” to which Beatrice replies “kill Claudio” which Benedick agrees to. This shows us that Benedick really would do anything for Beatrice even engage in a duel with one of his best friends maybe resulting in the death of one man. This proves to us that Benedick’s love is deep and he would risk his life to have the approval and love of Beatrice.

When Claudio is asked to marry Leonato’s Niece someone who he has never met or talked to he agrees straight away after being told that she looks like Hero, this is evidence that Claudio was more interested in Hero’s physical appearance than her personality. When it later turns out to be Hero he does not even apologise for what he did to her even though at this point in the play he knows that he was wrong. Deception, mistrust, false reports separate Hero and Claudio and the play almost has a tragic ending, saved only by the ‘fools’ in contrast to the light hearted devices of deception that bring Beatrice and Benedick together. While Beatrice and Benedick do not have a smooth affair we are confident that things will workout fine but the apparently easy affair between Hero and Claudio is riddled with worry because they don’t really know each other. Claudio’s change of heart towards Hero is serious whilst Benedick and Beatrice’s change of hearts towards love is comical.

Beatrice and Benedick have easy speech with each other. No need for affection. They speak in prose, therefore neither serious nor tragic but Hero and Claudio hardly ever converse! Hero feels ‘obliged’ to marry Claudio (she is just as prepared to marry Don Pedro). Their near-tragic relationship is characterised by blank verse.

In conclusion I believe Beatrice and Benedick have the stronger relationship, Hero and Claudio have more to prove to people whereas I don’t think Beatrice and Benedick care what people think anyway and it probably wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as they have split up before. Benedick and Beatrice are older and more experienced in love, they know what to expect and they are realistic about their feelings. All in all Beatrice and Benedick are “To wise to woo peacefully”

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