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The Human Nature in Much Ado About Nothing
In a play that so clearly focuses on the conflict between cause and emotion, it is a relief to locate that the parallels so usually drawn among these traits and men and females have been discarded. Shakespeare has turned the stereotypes on their heads to provide to the audience a play that is not only insightful into the approaches in which guys and ladies interact, but that also challenges the audiences ill-founded preconceptions. Indeed, when Benedick refers to man as a “giddy” issue, this can be regarded not only as a reference to humankind, but to males in specific. The series of events that has previously unfolded has led him to believe that males, and not girls, are the species that are fickle, reactive and emotional.
The globe of Messina is, evidently, a self-contained a single, concerned much less with the outside planet than the preservation of its own superficial values. In fact, the only glimpse we are given of the globe outside Messina is in the opening scene, when Don Pedro and his companions return from war, and even right here the primary characters appear to be much more concerned with the truth those lost were “none of name”. The inhabitants of the town are isolated, and therefore concern and amuse themselves with style, leisure, wit and, importantly, courting. These activities demand of spectators small more than mere observation and this seems to be the standard way of gaining the respect of other people. Whilst the men appear to try to win the adoration of the girls via sport and use of wit, Hero can be observed as anything of an ornament, and indeed this is how she is perceived. When asked by Claudio if he took note of Hero with much more than a passing interest, Benedick’s response is unmistakable:
“I noted her not, but I looked on her.”
The emotive, instinctive action of “looking” demands no reasoning and seems to be common of the status quo. The planet of Messina has a glossy veneer, and it is this that leads the major characters to show their susceptibility to deception, as judgements founded without having thought or reflection are tantamount to mere guesses. Fashion and wit are deceptive tools, and are utilised therefore by the characters. They give first impressions, conveying an impressive appearance, but that is all, as Borachio notes, perceptively:
“Seest thou…what a deformed thief this style is…”
Indeed, reliance upon look and how factors appear to be at first glance inevitably leads to a detachment from reality and leaves a single vulnerable to misjudgement and deception. In Act 4 Scene 1 Claudio queries his personal discernment, asking rhetorically:
“Is this the Prince’s brother? Is this face Hero’s? Are our eyes our own?”
In the world of Messina, where what is observed is assumed to be accurate, truth and falsity can grow to be confused, and belief in what the characters see can grow to be fragile. Nevertheless, the guys in the play seem to be significantly less aware of this than the girls and in Act two Scene 3 the susceptibility of Benedick is shown up and we grow to be aware of how effortlessly his perception can stand in the way of reality. His opinions shift significantly from talking of marriage scornfully at the starting of the scene, saying that, “man is a fool when he dedicates himself to love”, to only moments later exclaiming, triumphantly:
“…I will be horribly in enjoy with her.”
Right here Benedick shows himself to be not only fickle and unpredictable, but also remarkably inconsistent. The deception of Beatrice in Act 3 Scene 1, on the other hand, in spite of her expression of an apparently equivalent response, shows her to be consistent, steadfast and most certainly not “giddy”. She believes what she has heard “better than reportingly,” and for that reason is conscious of Benedick’s qualities and potential to adore with no needing to be told, emphasising her capacity to deduce items for herself, and to disregard appearance. Nevertheless, each characters are deceived, and consequently probably fail to use their cause, to some extent. Surely Benedick’s response (and some may possibly argue Beatrice’s as well) is emotional and instinctive, and we see a conflict between reason and emotion which is hugely important throughout the play.
The capacity to preserve an suitable balance in between cause and emotion appears to evade every single character at some point for the duration of the play, except, I really feel, Beatrice. She shows herself all through to be steadfast, loyal and, undoubtedly in contrast to most of the other characters, notably constant. It is her that we look to in order to draw comparisons with other characters’ reactions and responses. In Act 4 Scene 1, she shows not only loyalty to and faith in her close pal Hero, but also certainty and credence in her own convictions. Leonato’s response to Claudio’s accusation is unambiguous and explicit, as he takes what he is told to be the truth, displaying completely no belief in his daughter and saying:
“Death is the fairest cover for her shame/ That might be wished for.”
His reaction is intensely emotional, and is reinforced by awareness of his own status. Beatrice, on the other hand, shows an capability to deduce the truth by way of a refined balance of reason, commitment to her pal, and instinct. She is conscious of the reality that, as a lady, her views are not valued in Messina (she is regarded by the guys, “a rare parrot-teacher” who repeats herself and talks small sense) and recognises that “were [she] a man”, this would not be the case. Nonetheless, she utilizes her capability with words and cause against Benedick in order to get him to fulfil her want of possessing Claudio killed. Through her perception and an understanding of the society she believes that the “gallant” men are mere “valiant dust”, concerned more with the status and image that goes with getting a warrior than truly realising this facade. She tells Benedick bluntly:
“…men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones as well.”
By this she is implying that, as sharp and swift witted as he may be, he is in reality all talk and no action. This scathing remark shows not only a remarkably perceptive insight into how males operate, but also a capacity to use purpose and intelligence in order to manipulate other folks, an aptitude shown by no other character in the play.
In analysing the play, and when a single requires note of the essential part that not only Beatrice but also Hero plays in it, it appears evident that in Messina the males are the much more emotion driven of the species, and females the a lot more affordable. Certainly this challenges stereotypes that have existed for thousands of years in the west, and Shakespeare can be said to have been well ahead of his time. As I have already discussed, Beatrice represents the ideal amalgamation of emotion and reason, and is nearly the epitome of stability, emphasising the giddiness of the other characters. But I feel that Hero, probably in a subtler, far more understated way, plays a fantastic component in this.
Away from the vigilant eye of social expectation she shows herself, similarly to Beatrice, to be capable of manipulating language and using her reason and logic in order to persuade and influence other people. She is instrumental in the organizing of the efficient deception of Beatrice in Act 3 Scene 1, evidently making use of harsh, difficult-hitting comments as a tool against her, as Beatrice wails:
“What fire is in my ears?”
In contrast, Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio’s ostentatious attempt is unplanned, ad hoc and complete of errors that would be viewed as irredeemable, were it not for the truth that the guys in the play have currently shown themselves to be emotive and impressionable, as can be observed when, barely moments following “noting” Hero early on in the play, Claudio proclaims:
“That I adore her, I feel.”
Even the name Hero appears to give her parity with the supposed male heroes of the war and at the end of the play we witness her showing the qualities that are essential for one particular to be named as such. At very first glance, Hero’s acceptance of Claudio (again) seems to show ignorance and a lack of comprehension of the deficiencies of a patriarchal society in which women are willingly subservient. However, whilst Claudio shows that he has discovered nothing at all from the ordeal, referring to his wife-to-be as a commodity that he should “seize upon”, it is Hero who shows composure, self-awareness and conviction. To refuse to marry Claudio would be to question the foundations and fundamental beliefs of Messina, and so her self-sacrifice can be noticed not only as heroic but also as strikingly controlled, level-headed, and basically reasonable. She makes a definite distinction between “now” and “then”, displaying certainty and assurance:
“And when I liv’d I was your other wife, and when you lov’d, you were my other husband.”
In the final moments of the play, when Benedick proclaims his wish to marry, saying that there is “nothing to any objective that the planet can say against it” Shakespeare is seeking to convey a comparable certitude and integrity building within Benedick to that previously shown by Hero 1 that has hence far been absent in the nature of any of the male characters. Benedick’s possibly a lot more overt heroism can be put on a par with that of Hero and is probably a lot more recognised, as it is he who appears to give the play its buoyant ending by vowing to marry Beatrice, really like his cousin Claudio and, regarding Don John, “devise thee brave punishments”. But it must not be forgotten that, had Hero refused Claudio’s hand in marriage, none of this would have been achievable. In addition to this, the really outstanding transformation of Benedick’s character can be attributed overwhelmingly to Beatrice, who has shown herself all through to be unwavering, virtuous – and certainly the absolute opposite of “a giddy thing”.
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