The love between Beatrice and Benedick is the idealistic love of Shakespeare and the love between Claudio and Hero is more realistic and physical. Actually there are contrasts and similarities in those two love stories in the play.
From the beginning of the play, Claudio realizes, after returning from war, that he is deeply in love with Hero and wants to ask her father for permission to marry her. The other couple, Beatrice and Benedick, works hard to give the impression that neither is the least bit interested in the other. Later on, a plan of showing Hero’s disloyalty of being succumbed to the amorous attentions of a man other than Claudio is worked out on the night before Hero and Claudio’s wedding. Finally, the two couples get married.
First of all, Hero and Claudio’s relationship is based on first impressions, ignorance and wealth. On the other hand, Beatrice and Benedick’s love is based on mutual respect, love and true admiration. In the beginning of the play, there is nothing short of obvious attraction between Beatrice and Benedick. It appears as though they are reluctant lovers duped into a suspicious relationship. In the opening act, they already argue as lovers as Benedick says the words I, i. 107 ‘What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?’ This is obviously quite a tongue in rude question with undertones of attraction as is Beatrice’s reply I, i. 108-11 ‘Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feet it as Signor Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if you come in her presence.’ This teasing, laced with clear regard and attraction, continues with more passionate infighting where their fascination for each other becomes more and more clear. Their words, which appear to be that demonstrating disdain, are words talked tediously by lovers who are confused and frightened of their attraction. Later in the same scene, we can hear Benedick says I, i. 217-24 ‘…But that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or hand my bugle in an invisible baldric, all women shall pardon me. Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none. And the fine is – for the which I may go the finer – I will live a bachelor.’ One theory of this is that by remaining a bachelor he somehow does not lose the male connection that he experiences with the other bachelors.
Benedick admires Beatrice’s wit and quick tongue as this demonstrates she is far from being beneath him intellectually. This is clearly evident in the fact that he respects his mother, for giving birth to him, thereby demonstrating his respect for women in general. It is also apparent that a woman should be more than just pretty, as he appears to disagree with Claudio’s fascination with the beauty of Hero. Benedick’s respect and high admiration for Beatrice is, at first, clouded by fear and confusion, not based only on her appearance, but on her soul and inner beauty. Being a confirmed believer in his own eternal bachelorhood, Benedick would not be persuaded from his convictions for anything less than a quick-witted woman of inner beauty. This is how he differs dramatically from Claudio whose first impression and regard is based merely on Hero’s beauty.
In Act 2 Scene 3, Leonato, together with Don Pedro and Claudio make Benedick overhear them saying that Beatrice is madly in love with him but is just too embarrassed to let him know her feelings. In the meantime, Hero and Ursula contrive to let Beatrice hear them talk about how much Benedick loves her in Act 3 Scene 1. They also praise Benedick’s many virtues. Both Beatrice and Benedick are talkative and outspoken and full of wit. As the play progresses, both try to hide their feelings for each other by verbal sparring. Benedick seems to be mature and