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Friday, May 4, 2012

‘Shakespeare presents the relationship between Hero and Claudio as a naïve one and Benedick and Beatrice’s as mature.’ Consider this interpretation and give your own opinion.

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The idea that Hero and Claudio’s relationship is naïve and that Benedick and Beatrice’s is mature is a fairly strong point to back up with evidence from the text. The two relationships create a parallel in the play. Benedick and Beatrice starts under very different circumstances in comparison to Hero and Claudio.


We know very little of Hero and Claudio being a couple at the start of the play but this will soon grow over time. Their relationship in the play is very typical of the time the play is set. Claudio is very much the sentimental lover; portrayed when he is talking about Hero.


“Come thronging soft and delicate desires,


All prompting me how fair young Hero is,”


Do my essay on ‘Shakespeare presents the relationship between Hero and Claudio as a naïve one and Benedick and Beatrice’s as mature.’ Consider this interpretation and give your own opinion. CHEAP !




Hero stays the quiet feminine lady throughout the majority of the play. This can be seen as virtuous, marking her out as the modest young heiress to Messina. This could also be seen as her trapped in the patriarchal society of the time.


The first insight we have into the start of a relationship between them, is in Act 1 Scene 1 when we first get an idea of a possible relationship between the two. Claudio approaches Benedick about his feelings for Hero. However, it is quickly seen that he does not get the response he wants.


“Can the world buy such a jewel?” “Yea and a case to put it into-”


This is Shakespeare’s first contrast on sentimental with realistic love, shown through the two contrasting characters. Claudio seems to be seeking approval from Benedick throughout this whole conversation. I then imagine him shuffling awkwardly and stating his defence, as if trying to convince himself of his attraction to Hero. However, it could also be read as him ignoring what Benedick says and following his own heart. I think he gets fed up of listening to what Benedick has to say and instead of the questions he asks in support from Benedick, he explicitly expresses how he feels.


“In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that I ever looked on.”


However, Shakespeare does not let this conversation get out of hand. I think in this instance, Claudio may have lost his temper because Benedick repeatedly is making sarcastic jokes and comments about Hero and love.


This conversation then leads onto another similar exchange with Prince Don Pedro. Once more, Claudio explains his feelings for the beautiful Hero, although this time he gets a much more positive response. Don Pedro immediately takes matters into his own hands and suggests himself to do the arranging of the two of them. However, Claudio brings Hero up in conversation very differently than with Benedick. This time, he asks,


“Hath Leonato any son, my lord?”


This could be a shy way of introducing her to the conversation. However, Shakespeare may suggest Claudio is looking to see of any heir to Messina. This could give the audience suspicions about Claudio. However, the way he continues makes me find it difficult to believe that this is true.


“I look’d upon her with a soldier’s eye, that liked-”


This seems like a mature view to express, and so when Don Pedro, says that he will break with Hero and Leonato and sort everything out for Claudio, it seems that it is quite a surprise that he accepts the offer. He back pedals at first, saying that he does not want everything to seem too hasty but then agrees.


“But lest my liking might too sudden seem,


I would have salved it with a longer treatise.”


The idea of Claudio accepting help from Don Pedro is, in my opinion, quite a mature approach to winning Hero over. Don Pedro is a prince and so this will be well presented to Leonato and Hero herself. Claudio has a better chance if being offered through such a prominent character as Don Pedro.


However, this could be read as naïve. He could be acting shy or perhaps even a little coy. He may just be too scared of rejection to confront Hero herself.


Claudio reveals his less than mature side later again when he is tricked into believing Hero’s infidelity. Don John is jealous of Claudio and sets up a cunning scheme to deceive him. He tells Claudio of her promiscuity and at first, Claudio does not believe.


“The lady is disloyal. - Leonato’s Hero, your Hero, every man’s Hero.”


He tells Claudio that if he wished to see proof he can look upon her in her window.


“If I see anything to-night why I should not marry her to-morrow, in the congregation, where I should wed, there I will shame her.”


I think this supports the given interpretation of the play because Shakespeare presents an uncomfortable feeling between Claudio and Don John. If Claudio has such a way of thinking towards Don John and such love for Hero as he has expresses, I believe that he should give her the benefit of the doubt but he seems a little too hasty to brand her of disgraceful relations. However, earlier he acts as if Don Pedro moved things too quickly between Hero and himself, so if he is having doubts he could perhaps see this as the perfect opportunity to escape the marriage.


The first time we see Hero and Claudio together is in the masked ball, act scene 1. Don Pedro’s plan of breaking with Leonato and Hero has been a success and Hero is given to Claudio. This seems like an awkward situation between for the two of them. As far as the audiences know this could their first meeting. They have others talk round them, only speaking when prompted to do so, when Beatrice says


“Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth with a kiss, and let not him speak either.”


I can imagine that before Beatrice says this there is an uncomfortable long silence with several short glances shared between the couple.


This is one of the moments where the relationship could be viewed as naïve. The two have not spent any time together and their feelings are based purely on appearance, and in modern society this could be seen as naïve.


However, at the time the play was first performed this would have been a typical way for couples to become engaged.


The wedding in act five scene four, is another of the few situations in the play where we see Hero and Claudio together. Claudio believes that he is marrying one of Leonato’s nieces, after he is told that the fair ‘Hero has died after her public shaming. Claudio accepts and when he is presented to his future wife, she is masked. They agree to marriage and as she unmasks, they see each other and Claudio realises that it is his real Hero.


“One Hero died defiled, but I do live,”


This is the same as how they are set up earlier with their relationship follows all the codes and conventions of the times. I think this is less naïve than other some of their other scenes together. Claudio seems to accept responsibilities of his past actions and agrees to marry this stranger to restore his respect from Leonato. However, there is a darker reading of the play. Claudio could be suspected of ulterior motives when it comes to inheriting the fortunes from Leonato.


A modern audience would consider this arranged marriage less than normal. It could seem strange that a relationship could last with the two people not knowing each other.


Benedick and Beatrice are repeatedly engaged in a ‘merry war’ that is continual throughout most of the play even when they are showing affection to one another. It does however, progress because these battles start with references into a painful past but as these go on and they begin to fall in love the wars become more playful and friendly.


The first time they engage in such a battle is in act 1 scene 1. It begins with what seems to be just simply friendly banter but it soon appears that there is more to their past than they admit.


“You always end with a jade’s trick I know you of old.”


This exchange can be interpreted in different ways. The use of language in ‘jade’s trick’ is meaning it is an old and tired joke. This seems to imply that there is more to their past. This can be interpreted in many ways. I see a darker side to this; with Beatrice saying it with the playful tone quickly departed and replaced with a bitter hurt manner. Shakespeare has also left it open to be interpreted as her continuing the laughter, giving the audience the view that she has won.


The gullings of Benedick and Beatrice is a major event in the play. They seem to have shown some affection for each other but in a reserved way. They are both so busy preaching against the usual way of love and marriage in their society that they perhaps do not notice what is under their nose.


“When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.”


This plot seems to be their own way of thinking that they have gained the advantage. They both creep about around those they are eves dropping upon, and neither of them steps forward to say that they feel the same. This can be understood as childish pride. If there is a painful past between the two of them, they may want to appear the stronger one and act more cool and collected. This sort of behaviour was very anti-conformist of the time and would probably have been very strange for the audiences watching the in Globe Theatre. However, this helps to make it the successful romantic comedy that it is.


Even at the end of the play, when Benedick and Beatrice are getting married the two still engage in this war. This is however, stopped when they are interrupted by Claudio and Hero with love poems that they have written for one another. This continues Benedick and Beatrice contributing with the banter until it is stopped with Benedick kissing Beatrice after letting her have the last word.


“Peace! I will stop your mouth.”


However, other interpretations of this are that Benedick’s kiss is his way of silencing her. This would have been more towards the interpretations of the patriarchal society in which the play way first performed.


“A miracle? Here’s our own hand against our hearts. Come, I will have thee; but by this light I take thee for pity.”


I think this is a very mature stance for Benedick to take. Throughout the play, the two are constantly trying to get the last word in, trying harder and harder to out smart the other. Shakespeare presents Benedick in the romantic role, and I think this is a huge gamble for him.


I consider that the interpretation that ‘Shakespeare presents the relationship between Hero and Claudio as a naïve one and Benedick and Beatrice’s as mature.’ is to some extent, wrong. Saying that Claudio and Hero’s relationship is naïve is very true in modern society but in the time of the play, this sort of marriage was expected. To call what they have before the marriage a relationship would be difficult. It all seems very artificial in our society. Claudio and Hero are in a relationship based on physical attraction while Beatrice and Benedick’s feelings clearly go back a while.


“I know you of old.”


We learn that they know each other and had some sort of loving past but Beatrice got hurt. This is more modern society convention than the part of Claudio and Hero. So I think that the interpretation is true for Hero and Claudio in modern society and not so true for Benedick and Beatrice’s part in the time the play is set.


Books -


Syred.L., Much Ado About Nothing Literature Guides (17), Letts


Sales.R., Much Ado About Nothing Critical Studies (187) Penguin


Stuart.R., Much Ado About Nothing York Notes Advanced (18) York Press


Shakespeare’s Division of Experience by Marilyn French


Web pages -


www.pinkmonkey.com


www.gradesaver.com


www.sparknotes.com


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