The Development of Benedick's Character in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing

The Development of Benedick's Character in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing

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The Development of Benedick's Character in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing

At the beginning of the play, Benedick appears as almost a comic character, acting as if the most important part of his character is his wit. However, by the end of the play it becomes obvious that he is a clear-thinking character who is able to take action and keep his head in a crisis.

The change in Benedick's character is accompanied by the change in his relationship with Beatrice, as they move from 'merry war' and 'skirmish of wit' to become lovers, though Benedick does still protest that he 'love thee (Beatrice) against my will'.
Throughout the play, Benedick's relationship with Beatrice is an important mark of his character. In the first scene they are unable to converse without entering into one of the skirmishes of wit for which Leonato has said they are known. There is a suggestion from Beatrice that the two have been in a relationship before:

"You always end with a jades trick, I know you of old"

Evidence of this past relationship provides both a reason for the 'merry war' and a suggestion that there may still be some romantic feelings between the two.
However, Benedick's jocular attitude towards women does not stop at Beatrice, even when Claudio asks Benedick, as a friend, for serious advice about Hero, he is unable to take the situation seriously or give a serious answer:

"She's too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise and too little for a great praise"

This shows quite clearly that Benedick's character in the early stages of the play is firmly rooted in his wit. Of course, Benedick's failure to notice Hero at all is a further suggestion that he has feelings for Beatrice, which is supported by his ...

... middle of paper ...

...e, due to the gradual change and development of his character.
The extent to which Benedick is changed is shown by the way his attitudes appear completely changed by the conclusion of the play, as he appears no longer to be a 'tyrant' towards women, and he is no longer reliant on his wit as the main feature of his personality.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Barton, Anne. Introduction. Much Ado About Nothing. The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1997. 361-365.

Lewalski, B. K. "Much Ado About Something" Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 8 (1968): 235-251.

Prouty, Charles A. Conformity in Much Ado About Nothing. New York: Books for Libraries Press/Yale University Press, 1980.

Rossiter, A.P. "Much Ado About Nothing." William Shakespeare Comedies & Romances. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

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