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Relationships: Benedick and Beatrice vs. Hero and Claudio

Relationships: Benedick and Beatrice vs. Hero and Claudio

In the play Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, the characters Benedick, Beatrice, Hero and Claudio all have very different relationships. Beatrice and Benedick have never been civil with each other, and whenever they meet, they often have a skirmish of words between the two. They have known each other “of old” and seem to enjoy fencing insults back and forth between them, using insults to convey their true feelings of affection towards one another. The relationship of Claudio and Hero, however, is much more simple. Claudio and Hero are deeply in love, and they show it, instead of containing it in the way that Beatrice and Benedick do. When contrasting the two relationships, the audience can see the vicissitudes of each relationship clearer. These vicissitudes are able to bring out the themes of love, the contrast of appearance and reality, and deception.

The “merry war” that exists between Benedick and Beatrice is contrasted in the play to the “bashful sincerity and comely love” that exists between Hero and Claudio. Benedick and Beatrice have always had a “skirmish of wit.” The “merry war” that exists between them is intensified when the audience contrasts their relationship with the pure and virginal love that exists between Hero and Claudio. Shakespeare also uses these contrasting types of loves to bring about the central theme of the play, love. The two couple show two contrasting types of loves, one of “heart-felt” love between Hero and Claudio, and one of seemingly extreme distaste for the other shown between Benedick and Beatrice, while the two are actually burying their affections for each other. Shakespeare is able to use these two couples’ relationship to extend the theme of love to show that love can be expressed in varying ways.

Furthermore, the playwright contrasts the relationships of Benedick and Beatrice to the relationship that Claudio and Hero have to bring out the theme of appearance and reality. Benedick and Beatrice have always claimed that they have no interest in the opposite sex, and when contrasted with the open declarations of love made by Hero and Claudio for each other, and this is further intensified. Benedick makes the claim that he “is loved of all ladies… but truly [he] loves none. Beatrice, on the other hand, claims that she would rather “ hear [her] dog bark at a crow than hear...

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