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Much Ado About Nothing | Shakespeare and love | Birmingham City Council

Much Ado About Nothing

The playful theme is continued in Much Ado About Nothing where a clever jest tricks Benedick and Beatrice into loving each other by making them hear planted conversations. Their relationship doesn’t start well, each one of them being a sober, down to earth person. Beatrice is not in a romantic mood:

For, hear me, Hero, wooing, wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig
A measure, and a cinque-pace; the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig
And then comes repentance, and, with his bad legs, falls into the cinque-pace
Faster and faster, till he sinks into his grave.

Benedick is not far behind Beatrice establishing himself as a firm bachelor and ‘professed tyrant’ to women. Even when they are tricked to believe the other is in love with them, they stay apprehensive and love is ‘no more than reason’. Beatrice takes him ‘in friendly recompense’ and ‘ consumption’, he takes her ‘in pity’. Shakespeare’s take on love in the play is modern and fresh.

Beatrice and Benedick’s love has been developed as part of the complex plot of the broken and then restored romance of Claudio and Hero which causes a lot of ‘do about nothing’ in the play. Although in Shakespeare’s times it was usual to suspect women of dishonesty and deceit, Shakespeare takes it a step further and writes about men’s infidelity:

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more;
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.