At the start of Much Ado about Nothing, the messenger informs the people of Messina that Don Pedro and his soldiers have returned from a victorious battle. When the messenger mentions Benedick who is a brave soldier, loyal to Prince Don Pedro, smart, rich, witty, generous and handsome, Beatrice makes sarcastic comments about him. Wit is mostly used through Beatrice and Benedick’s love hate relationship. An example of wit in Act one is when Beatrice makes fun of Benedick, indicating that he is not a very skilled soldier and Beatrice will eat all of his killings that she describes is none.
“I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? For indeed I promise to eat all of his killings”
The obvious comical scene within Act 1 is distributed with the two protagonists Beatrice and Benedick. In Shakespearean period the role of women in society was to have little power however Beatrice goes against that by being witty and clever with smart remarks. Due to her continuous conflict against Benedick, she produces comedy in the form of mocking physical features and aspects of his personality. Beatrice speaks arrogantly and hostilely towards Benedick, which then further goes against conformity. This is shown by the way she condemns Benedick portraying him as a disease named the “Benedick” that is easier caught than the plague. The use of these words is humorous due to the fact she always wants the upper hand in the competition of wit, outsmarting the notorious Benedick.
“O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease! He is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad.”
We can infer that there are numerous attributes that contribute to the humor and comedy of Act 1 in Much Ado about Nothing, the most noticeable element is the battle of wit between Beatrice and Benedick.
During the masked ball, the prince Don Pedro planned to make Beatrice and Benedick fall in love by trickery. The scene from Act 2 that is set in a garden and the audience can see musicians playing and singing a song that creates a calm, relaxed atmosphere. Beatrice and one of Don Pedro’s soldiers sung “sigh no more ladies, sigh no more”. This song explains the difference between men and women. The men must fight for their nation while the women must stay at home, they do not have a choice and tells women to not be possessive and to be happy with their life. Dramatic irony is used in the play to create the illusion of suspense, comedy and can cause conflict between the characters. Dramatic irony is illustrated when Beatrice and Benedick appear to hate each other, but they each over hear that the other loves them. During these events the audience knows that Beatrice and Benedick are being tricked whilst the characters know nothing of it. Don Pedro successfully achieved his plan, he knows that Benedick was eavesdropping into his conversation with Claudio and Leonato. During this scene slapstick is used when Benedick is so surprised that Beatrice is in love with him that he falls in his deck chair.
Alternative example of dramatic irony is after Benedick knows that Benedick is in love with him, Don Pedro tells Beatrice to fetch him for dinner and while Beatrice tells Benedick that it is time for dinner, she is insulting him but he is not replying to her wits because he thinks that she’s in love with him.
“So you took pleasure in bringing me this message?”
“Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach, Signior. Fare you well.”
Hero and Claudio plan on getting married…