Much Ado About Nothing English Exam 2

What happens in opening scene to give shape to the plot? Don Pedro et al return from putting down the rebellion of his bastard brother. Following the victory is a general period of celebration- masking, dancing, loving. – Claudio falls in love and Beatrice and Benedick proclaim eternal bachelorhood. – Don Pedro’s response (and ours) is that he wants to see him undone! The thrill of matchmaking!Generally in comedy, an older figure (called a blocking figure or “senex iratus”, usually a parent or guardian) stands in the way of love. – Here, both characters block themselves as it were. The interest (or tension) is built by seeing them being set up for a fall…into love (dramatic irony). Beatrice & Benedick
How are Beatrice and Benedick presented in early parts of the play? They are sharp-witted and light-hearted CRITICS of the ILLUSIONS OF LOVE. Benedick: – “A professed tyrant to their sex” – “that a women conceived me” – “man is a fool when he dedicated his behaviors to love”Beatrice: – “Just, if he sends me no husband…” – “not till God make men of some other metal than earth”Both are convinced of the folly of love on proof of their own observations; THEY THINK THEY SEE WITH PERFECT CLARITY: – He: “I can see yet without spectacles and I see no such matter”- She: “I have a good eye, uncle. I can see a church by daylight”of course they don’t “see” well. Notice all the deceptions practiced against them!
How is Benedick as “lover” (or anti-lover) contrasted with Claudio? Benedick thinks he sees and understands everything. Claudio is afraid to trust his judgement and must rely on others. – he indirectly questions Benedick- He approaches the subject indirectly with Don Pedro
What psychological mechanism do the conspirators use to bring them together? All they have to do is to suggest to each that the other has yielded first. and all their defenses crumble.
How has Shakespeare prepared us for this about face? – although Beatrice professes to scorn him, he is the first she inquires about. – Benedick is strongly insistent about the outward beauty of Beatrice- At the masked dance they are instinctively drawn together. – they are naturally curious about each other- some liaison has taken place. (communication or cooperation that facilitates a close working relationship between people or organizations.)
For all its apparent aggressiveness, their combats of wit are really an indication of the fascination they feel for one another. Psychologically they distance dangerous emotion by deflating them though witty parody, etc.
The plot is complex with three stories running parallel: – the love affair of Hero and Claudio which leads to disaster- the trap set to catch Beatrice and Benedick.- the plot of Don John, foiled by Dogberry.
The first act and the masked ball bring who together? bring Hero and Claudio together (with Don John only temporarily blocking them), though this tangle falls apart at once.
At this point Shakespeare begins to make the Beatrice/Benedick story move. With the two deceptions scenes, a moment of high comedy is promised later in the play when the two will meet (each convinced the other is secretly in love).
But first shakespeare allows Don John to plot against who? Hero and Claudio
Shakespeare has the watch overhear Borachio describe? how he was successfully deceived the nobels, received his reward, and got drunk.
His reaction indicate that it is so dark he doesn’t see the watch standing near (who can overhear all he says) just as it was dark enough to deceive Claudio and Don Pedro. – Once the watch captures Borachio, our excitement builds: Will the truth come out before the wedding?- The story now approaches tragedy, heightened by the tenderness of Hero’s dressing scene (with our knowing what will soon happen) and the frustration of Dogberry trying to tell his news but unable to make clear what he knows. – Throughout all this excitement, the grand climax of the Beatrice and Benedick plot has been suspended.
Interwoven with this story of lovers being revealed to themselves is a quite simple theme (similar to MND): – an exploration of the limits and methods of KNOWING (verb to know occurs 84 times in play)
The structure of the play is created by a series of deceptions, all of which go to show the “judgement” must temper sensory knowledge [PROVE/PROOF] (We don’t have the simple terms of MND, reason vs. emotion). Claudio places his trust in his intermediaries (and not in love for Hero) and so relies on what others tell him is going on— he is easily fooled. – Don John sees Pedro/Hero together and reports to Claudio. – Claudio: “This certain so, the prince woos for himself”- Benedick also sees Pedro/Hero together…(mistaking them)- Don John is mistaken too. Benedick also believes implicitly in his ability to rely on his senses to guide himself yet he is easily fooled in the garden. – Heavy irony established (and suspense as we wait for his fall)”May I be so converted…. I think not”- “this can be no trick”Beatrice is just like him, and she falls just as easily!But the greatest deception of all is Don John’s offering ocular proof of Hero’s unfaithfulness.- Notice how prominent the words “know” and “see” are, culminating in “if you dare not trust that you see, confess that you know.”
The culmination of this interest is in the church scene. Which places in the foreground the problem of “knowing”. When the Friar asks the question form the liturgy “know ye any…” there follows a minor flurry of repetition: know, know, etc. Claudio delivers his speech on seeming and outward show— which is especially ironic. – and his affirmation of knowledge comes down to “Are our eyes our own?”*which is seconded by “did see her, did hear her”This point is underlined by Leonato’s behavior, since he takes her maidenly blushes as guilty not innocent.The true value is provided by the Friar who relies on his senses alone but by judgement of her character FOR PROOF.
At this point, Beatrice and Benedick are left alone for the first time. Here, as Beatrice’s heart is wrenched by Hero’s plight, Benedick moves into her innermost affections: “As strange as the thing I KNOW not”How can she “know” in the fullest sense what her instinct assures her is true? (i.e,. She relies on intuition or emotion, not reason) She will provide the EXPERIMENTAL SEAL by asking him to avenge Hero. – If he will be only a tongue (all words and no action) he really can’t love her. (are the climax)
We might note that this proof of love contrasts greatly with the parodic scene of Benedick in love. The catalogue of ways to recognize a lover focuses out attention on the outward sign— the melancholy, the sighing, the clothes, the new haircut, etc. (sonnet lover/Romeo)Yet note too that his sence is similarly capped off by Don John’s promise to prove a “warrant” (i.e., another sign) or ocular proof of Hero’s guilt.
The subplot involving Dogberry and the watch—which is a parody of Elizabethan night watchman— is first of all good fun. His slowness of wit, bustling incompetence, prudent avoidance of any encounters with criminals, his all-night sleeping on a bench, etc. More subtly also, his malapropisms point to confusion of sign for signified. But Dogberry and his crew provide Shakespeare with a nice device to satirize their betters:- It is the watch who “hears” of the plot in the night, and it is precisely their ability to marshal evidence and form proper judgements that solves the dilemmas of Hero. (compare with bottom)
Why is Leonato is in grief and shock? Public shame over her lost reputation and uncertainty over Hero’s guilt. Although Hero is not really dead, Leonato grieves as if she were, because she has lost her reputation.
When Benedick enters, Claudio and Don Pedro expect him to cheer the up with his wit, but? He quietly challenges Claudio to a duel.
When Dogberry and Verges bring in Borachio, Claudio and Don Pedro realize that__________ is innocent. Hero
What does Leonato require of Hero? Public restoration of Hero’s reputation. Claudio must clear Hero’s name by writing a poem honoring her in death and singing it as her tomb.
Benedick laments his inability to write Beatrice a Petrarchan love sonnet. He flirts with Beatrice, then pledges his love to her again.
Final Scene: Allows Beatrice and Benedick to revert to their old attitudes before the love poems found on their persons makes it impossible to deny the obvious. The title of the play is a pun on the Elizabethan pronunciation of noting/nothing to “note” is Shakespeare’s term for PERCEPTION and the play is a tissue of miss-nothing or miss-perceiving — i.e., nothing nothing- The broken ceremony at the church points up the stupidity of those who have adhered to shallow code of behavior/valueThe love scene confirms this for us when Beatrice and Benedick play out an essentially emotional scene, characterized by the lack of logic and consistency. – Yet Shakespeare has made the point that true love manifests itself through an ACT (not just through a word) or a true bond that can stand against others. It is substantial and permanent. * This is the ultimate assertion of realty vs. appearance.