Known as one of William Shakespeare’s best comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, addresses many themes including love, honor, infidelity, and gender roles. The final conversation between Beatrice and Benedick, during Act 4, Scene 1, highlights many of these themes and provides insight to the strong and convincing character, Beatrice.
First and foremost, this scene is critical because it serves as a turning pointing for the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick, as the couple confesses their feelings to each other. This is their first amicable scene together, as all the pairs’ previous interactions involves the two engaged in a somewhat antagonistic banter of clashing ideals. Their reunion juxtaposes the event right before of which is the dissolution of Claudio and Hero. As his best friend, one would assume Benedick follows Claudio’s departure out of loyalty and support. However, he stays behind to comfort Beatrice. This action demonstrates his shifting alliance to Beatrice out of love and concern. Following their admission,
“Benedick: Come, bid me do anthing for thee. Beatrice: Kill Claudio. Benedick: Ha! Not for the world.” Beatrice: You kill me to deny it. Farewell. “
Although Benedick did choose to stay behind for Beatrice, he refuses to her request, and she, feeling dismissed, begins to leave. Their communication shows that the two people, although likely swept up by their newfound love, are still levelheaded and retain their general loyalties to their friends. This is definitely in character with their intelligent and reason-based personalities. In addition, it also draws a contrast to Claudio’s immediate acceptance of Hero’s supposed betrayal, and Hero’s despair of the accusation. However, eventually Benedick yields to Beatrice’s demand. It is important that he questions her at first, but slowly out of love and trust to her, Benedick agrees to defend Hero for Beatrice. This represents a transference of power and influence between the couple. His relent of male dominance brings the couple to a level with more equality, overall showing their compatibility and commitment to each other.
Aside from the meanings of love, this scene also shows the imbalance of power between the opposite sexes. Beatrice cries “O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace,” (4.1.320-21) after witnessing her cousin, Hero, being slandered and accused of infidelity by Claudio, the Prince and his brother. She is upset, and as a woman, there is nothing she can do to right this wrong, whereas if