In the play Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare expresses the different forms love can assume. He compares long developing friendships with more formal traditional relationships. He shows the different ways love can develop and illustrates with the use of words the difficulties contrasting relationships face. It also reveals how some relationships can turn out to be more moral and stable then others.
It is evident from the outset that Beatrice has a preoccupation with Benedick. This is demonstrated when Beatrice asks the messenger ‘…Is signor mountanto returned from the war or no?’ Even thou Beatrice is rude by calling Benedick big headed she is still inquisitive of whether he has returned from the war. The interest Beatrice has in Benedick is disguised as hatred, because of the insult directed at him. Inside Beatrice actually wants to know whether Benedick is alive or not which may be seen as an act of care.
Beatrice’s attitude towards Benedick does not differ when she comes face to face with him. Almost as much as she finds an excuse to talk about him, she finds an excuse to talk to him. Their conversation may not be viewed as pleasant from someone who does not know them but each know that it is intended to be teasing and not taken offensively. ‘A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours’ this demonstrates the ongoing witty repartee between Benedick and Beatrice. This is still offensive towards Benedick but it is proof that Beatrice talks to him directly just the same as she talks to others about him. Beatrice’s unchanging attitude also suggests she may not have anything to hide and is neither scared nor intimidated by Benedick. This is likely why she has no shame to say what she thinks to his face.
Beatrice refuses Don Pedro’s proposal of marriage saying ‘your grace is too costly to wear every day.’ This suggests that Beatrice finds Don Pedro far too polite and well mannered. She then goes onto say ‘I was born to speak all mirth and no mater.’ This hints that she needs someone to joke with and who can retort to her insults, which is not Don Pedro because he is too serious. It also advocates that Benedick is a good match for Beatrice and should be considered as a husband because he is less serious and has a similar character and mind set to that of Beatrice.
Hero and Claudio’s courtship is quite different to that of Beatrice and Benedick’s. One main difference is that Hero and Claudio can both see and admit that they have feelings towards each other and both realize that the other loves them as well. On the other hand neither Beatrice nor Benedick realize nor admit the feelings they have towards each other. Another difference between their relationships is that Hero and Claudio are far more formal and this leads to mistrust because they do not know each other as well as they should. However because of Beatrice’s and Benedick’s past interactions and seesawing relationship they both know each other very well and can trust one another to be truthful, ‘I know you of old’.
Other characters in the play know that Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship is ‘a merry war’ meaning both like to tease and antagonise one another but do not mean to be hurtful. Most characters know that they like each other but are often corrected by them that they will never marry ‘I would rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.’ This is Beatrice expressing how much she does not want a man to say she loves her but it may only be because beforehand