In this scene Shakespeare introduces a dramatic change in tone: presenting a juxtaposing, darker, more tragic atmosphere to that previous to it. This in turn creates a striking climax to the dramatic tension and threat posed by those agents of disorder in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.
This dramatic contrast in mood is generated through the uprising of conflict between the aristocracy and the house of Leonato. Claudio’s misguided hatred for Hero is expressed through a callous, graphic and manic denunciation due to her knowledge of “the heat of a luxurious bed”. Thus presenting the implications of a dramatic change in circumstance for Hero and her family. However the inner conflict between Claudio’s perception of Hero being “most foul, most fair” and the use of the oxymoronic alliteration in “savage sensuality” reveal a divided instinct and the degree to which his a lack of temperance has led him to pursue revenge whilst uncertainty still governs him:
O what men dare do! What men may do!
What men daily do, not knowing what they do!
Although Claudio intends to comment upon Leonato he unintentionally reveals his own shortcoming: that ironically Claudio doesn’t himself know the implications of what he is doing due to him being misinformed or, that in truth, Leonato is in fact innocent. Such consequential drastic violence based on misinformation is striking, making this a powerful moment in the play, particularly as the audience recognises that he has been misled and in turn is misleading those around him.
Such misrepresentation and misinformation is the main cause of confusion in the scene, greatly infecting those most vulnerable: evidently in Leonato whose rhetorical question “are these things spoken, or do I but dream?”...
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...egree to which his perception of reality has bee moulded by Don John:
Leonato, stand I here?
Is this the Prince? Is this the Princes Brother?
Is this face Hero’s? Are our eyes our own?
The extent to which Claudio is certain of Hero’s guiltiness due to insubstantial evidence such as her “blush” as guiltiness is alarming, particularly so as he fails to see through Don John’s “exterior shows” as destruction as his vice.
Whilst this contrasting, darker atmosphere in a sense generates, what can be considered as, one of the most powerfully dramatic scenes in the play, but perhaps it is the conflict involved at the heart of this conflict, between the colliding views of a reality in which Messina is either a virtuous or corrupt world and wether this potential for tragedy can be averted: this truly generates a dramatically powerful moment in the play.
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