In Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, the opening scene is originally reflected in the renaissance time when the soldiers came back from war, also the excitement of the impatient women as prince Aragon arrives. The play acts with all the romantic comedy in the structure; where as the central plot revolves around two pairs of young lovers. The necessary outcome of the play is marriage and celebration, but there must be a dramatic threat along the way. The character Beatrice brings verbal and humorous wit, whereas when Benedick arrives it changes the verbal dexterity into physical wit.
In the opening scene of the play, the audience gets their first impression of Beatrice. At first, in the scene, we see that it is Leonato and the messenger both clearly having a conversation that seemed private. However, Beatrice then gets included to the conversation by interrupting them. The fact that she edges her way in on two men having a conversation shows that she is nosy and unfearful: “I pray you, Signor Montanto returned from the wars, or no? ” This shows that she is a confident, strong woman seeing as she can interrupt a strong important figure in the play Leonato.
This also shows the audience that Beatrice is the type of person who doesn’t care or worry about people’s opinions towards her. This quote shows how Beatrice disdainfully talks behind Benedick. She also gives Benedick the mocking sobriquet “Signor Montanto” as she challenges the gender stereotype. We can spot a very important thing about Beatrice straight away just by the first line Shakespeare gives her. This line is basically an insult towards Benedick. Shakespeare uses very clever words in the play that most of the characters say. The word ‘Montanto’ that Beatrice says means bigheaded and full of one self.
This shows what Beatrice thinks of Benedick, that he’s vain and only thinks about himself. Also, using the word ‘Signor’ in front of ‘Montanto’ makes the insult far more worse, because she’s being sarcastic. This gives the audience a small idea of what Beatrice thinks of Benedick. She clearly doesn’t seem to like him very much and we can tell this by the fact she insults him. This is depicted in Kenneth Branough’s film version as Beatrice is physically sitting alone, which accepts the patriarchal hegemony as she doesn’t want to celebrate with anyone. This suggests that Benedick is nothing more than a roue undermines and emasculates Benedick.
Beatrice carries on teasing the messenger by playing with words against Benedick: “And a good soldier too, lady. And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he to a lord? ” The fact that she plays with words and gives fast responses shows she wants to be the centre of attention and in improvising as her speed of wit. The quote ‘And a good soldier to a lady’ makes Benedick look like he’s interested in sex and a terrible fighter. There is deliberate undermining of him as they never meet but a skirmish of wits and typical badinage. She shows to the audience that she is victorious, where as when Benedick is present he has the upper hand.
This is characterized in the Branough’s film version as she is physically isolated from everyone is not because she not celebrating, not a malcontent neither a pessimist, but it shows how she want to be the centre of attention. In the film version it also shows how Beatrice’s facial expression shows she is saying it not seriously but knowingly, where as Leonato puts his hand on the messenger which suggests that he’s is not offended as there is an element of humour character assassination. She is not being sincere but humorous as she plays to the audience in order in being the centre of attension.
She is teasing the messenger, but she also wants to show her wit. During the scene, Benedick and Beatrice, both argue and insult each other. The insults shows how highly skilled Shakespeare is, because of the cleverness and wittiness he put in the insults: “I wonder that you will still be talking signor Benedick, nobody marks you. What my dear lady disdain! Are you yet living? ” Beatrice interrupts once again, the conversation between Benedick and Don Pedro. Also, she is the first one to attack with the insults by saying, “I wonder that you will still be talking signor Benedick, nobody marks you. Beatrice says this sarcastically towards Benedick. The word “marks” means “noticing” in modern language. She is basically saying that no one is listening to him or to what he has to say, that she’s curious in why he’s still talking seeing as nobody is interested. However, this is a bit hypocritical, because it shows us, the audience, that Beatrice is clearly interested in what Benedick is saying, because she interrupts her way in. It is perhaps her way of getting his attention; she wants him to notice her, so she interrupts his conversations and insults him.
Undoubtedly, Benedick retaliates back at her and he does this by saying “what my dear lady disdain! Are you yet living? ” He says this in a patronizing way towards Beatrice. The word “disdain” means that you look down on people and you think you’re better than them, and by adding “lady” means he’s making fun of her, saying she’s the very best at looking down on people. Benedick is saying that she’s stuck up, and also, the insult he used has the same meaning to the insult Beatrice once said about him “signor Montanto”.
This shows that they both have very similar personalities because of the fact they said the same thing. This is shown in the film version as Benedick approaches the centre, physically wanting to be the centre of attention. The rakish slant he shows demonstrates his playfulness. This moment in time there is a close up shot then a reaction shot of Emma Thompson (Beatrice). Initially her reaction is a smile but the close up to her eyes which suggests it’s forced and a judge mental quality to her gaze. Beatrice wants to have eye contact but he doesn’t and avoids her, as he knows the assault is coming.
The fact that Benedick walks behind her also shows a mixture of intimacy and a mixture of attraction and repulsion. The bickering between Beatrice and Benedick continues slightly to physical wit, which hurts her: “it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted… I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he love me”. Once again, Benedick shows a hint of arrogance and vanity in his personality that the audience will detect. This is because he says to Beatrice, “it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted” He is aying that every woman loves him apart from Beatrice. This could be stating that Beatrice is unusual and weird because she’s the odd one out who doesn’t love him, so she must have something wrong with her. By stating this, it makes Benedick seem very vain and unpleasant at this point, which the audience might start to think. Another one of the insults that Beatrice says is, “I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he love me”. When a dog barks at a crow, it barks out a horrible repulsive noise.
So Beatrice is saying that she would rather hear such a noise than a man saying he loves her. This is quite a strong and harsh thing for someone to say, so the audience might be thinking that perhaps she’s been hurt badly in the past before by a man. This is illustrated in the film version as Beatrice thinks she’s won the argument but Benedick comes back at her with a jades trick and seeks for attention by looking back at the crowd for approval as they laugh and cheer. The argument comes to an end as Benedick retaliates with a jades trick: “You always end with a jade’s trick.
I know you of old” Also it’s a similar outlook to Benedick because he also thinks the same way which is also another proof that they have similar personalities. They both carry on with the insults, back and forth, almost as if, it’s like a game between both of them. However, Beatrice ends the conversation with a line that many suggest Beatrice and Benedick might have once known each other. She says, “You always end with a jade’s trick. I know you of old” The phrase “I know you of old” means that she’s known him for a long time.
Also the word “always” could mean that Beatrice must know Benedick quite well, to know what he usually does or says. This would make the audience more excited and involved with the play, but it would also make them more curious, because they now know that there had been history between Beatrice and Benedick. Beatrice says “with jades trick”, which says how he’s stubborn. This suggests that Beatrice thinks he’s stubborn and he always wants to get the last word. In the film version Benedick walks away as he says his last comment while Beatrice quietly whispers to herself “You always end with a jade’s trick.
I know you of old”. Like I’ve once mentioned, there are many similarities between these two characters. They are both very stubborn and argumentative. They’re confident and intimidating. They are sharp-tongued because they are quick at the insults they aim at each other, there isn’t any hesitation, which makes them both very clever. Also, they are both very interested with each other. Even though they might not realize it yet, but many others in the play and in the audience can clearly see that now. By now, the audience would have some expectations for the couple at this point.
We now know that Beatrice and Benedick are in love with each other, hence the ‘trick’. We also know both their personalities very well. They’re witty and chatty and we would expect them to continue that way, despite them being in love, and that’s exactly what they carry on doing. After the trick and the misunderstandings are cleared up, we get to the scene of the wedding. Beatrice and Benedick do not admit their love for each other truthfully, but instead they do it in a witty and joked way, as expected of them. They deny being in love with each other, which purposely gets them attention.
Cite this Much Ado Bout Nothing PQA
Much Ado Bout Nothing PQA. (2017, Mar 13). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/much-ado-bout-nothing-pqa/