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Benedick Transformed

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 01:17 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 49.1 
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“Benedick Transformed”

To what extent is Benedick changed by the end of the play, and how does Shakespeare make this clear to us?

At the beginning of the play, Benedick appears as almost a comic character, acting as if the most important part of his character is his wit. However, by the end of the play it becomes obvious that he is a clear-thinking character who is able to take action and keep his head in a crisis.

The change in Benedick’s character is accompanied by the change in his relationship with Beatrice, as they move from ‘merry war’ and ‘skirmish of wit’ to become lovers, though Benedick does still protest that he ‘love thee (Beatrice) against my will’.

Throughout the play, Benedick’s relationship with Beatrice is an important mark of his character. In the first scene they are unable to converse without entering into one of the skirmishes of wit for which Leonato has said they are known. There is a suggestion from Beatrice that the two have been in a relationship before:

“You always end with a jades trick, I know you of old”

Evidence of this past relationship provides both a reason for the ‘merry war’ and a suggestion that there may still be some romantic feelings between the two.

However, Benedick’s jocular attitude towards women does not stop at Beatrice, even when Claudio asks Benedick, as a friend, for serious advice about Hero, he is unable to take the situation seriously or give a serious answer:

“She’s too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise and too little for a great praise”

This shows quite clearly that Benedick’s character in the early stages of the play is firmly rooted in his wit. Of course, Benedick’s failure to notice Hero at all is a further suggestion that he has feelings for Beatrice, which is supported by his assertion to Claudio that ‘her (Hero’s) cousin (Beatrice)…exceeds her as much in beauty, as the first of May doth the last of...


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