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Even though love and marriage was a major
ideal in Shakespearean England, we can get views from Much Ado about nothing,
which oppose this idea. From the two main ?couples? in this play we can
understand their different views on commitment throughout and because of this
we as readers and viewers can learn about each relationship separately and
watch the thoughts and ideas change throughout the play.
From the scene given we can make many assumptions on the Beatrice and Benedick
relationship and how it may have grown throughout the previous acts and scenes.
We can tell from this small passage that Beatrice and Benedick have a love/hate
relationship which may have come from past relationship let downs?
Beatrice: indeed my lord, he lent it me awhile, and I gave him use for it, a
double heart for his single one. Marry, once before he won it off me with false
dice, therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.
The two seem to have the same ideas on marriage even though we learn through
the play that this is not true, they both know it is important to get married
but have different viewpoints on the matter, they both appear to want their
individuality. We can see this idea in the passage provided and many other
parts of the play?
Beatrice: just, if he send me no husband; for the which blessing I am at him
upon my knees every morning and evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband
with a beard on his face I had rather lie in the woollen?
Benedick: the savage bull may; but if the ever sensible Benedick bear it, pluck
off the bulls horns and set them in my forehead; and let me be vilely painted,
and in such great letters as they write ?Here is a good horse to hire? let them
signify under my name ?Here you see Benedick the married man??
Each of the two know deep down that they do love each other and only when their
friends plot against them do they end up declaring their love for each other.
Benedick has protested in the past about loving Beatrice and we get this idea
from this passage and numerous other passages throughout the play?
Benedick: Love me? Why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censured: they say
I will bear myself proudly, if I perceive the love come from her; they say to
that she would rather die than give any sign of affection.
Beatrice is also not happy about feeling love for Benedick and we get this
feeling in the given passage?
Beatrice: As strange as the thing I know not. If it were possible for me to say
I loved nothing so well as you, but believe me not, and yet I lie not. I confess
nothing nor deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.
This passage also shows the confusion of Beatrice, she does not take Benedick
seriously and is mainly thinking of Hero during this conversation.
The other viewpoints on marriage and commitment are from Hero and Claudio
throughout the play. Although we do not hear of them during this passage we
know their views from previous reading. Jealousy and love are a major part in
Hero and Claudio?s relationship, we can see this in numerous parts of the play
and with this idea of sexual intercourse before marriage we can get ideas on
how Elizabethans handled virginity. When Claudio finds that his love has been
unfaithful he humiliates and embarrasses her in front of all the people
attending their wedding. We can also tell from this part and the passage given
the role of the women in deciding her fate and whom she marries.
Claudio: I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero
would be my wife
From this passage we can see that women in the early 1600?s had no authority
and were given away to their husbands without a say in the situation. We mainly
get this idea from the Hero and Claudio relationship, as during the play we
learn nothing of Beatrice?s father or mother.
From the given passage and throughout the book we as the reader can make many
judgements and have many thoughts on marriage and relationships in the 1600?s.
From the two main couples we learn of family values and expectations, we learn
of different attitudes to love and we also learn of relationships between
different couples and how they may of handled their affections.
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