In this Scene Benedick bids Beatrice to come and see him and discuss the matter of love, although, Beatrice turns the conversation towards the matter of honor questioning Benedick over the outcome of his conversation with Claudio. In this extract Benedick and Beatrice have a passionate debate over which is more worthy of the other’s love. At first their is clear imbalance of power between Benedick and Beatrice yet the mutual banter between the characters seems to be regaining its spark.
Benedick’s first reaction to Beatrice’s entry is to complement her “sweet Beatrice”, yet he loses no time to assume his rôle as the leader in the couple using passive aggressivity to affirm his position “wouldst thou come when i called you?”. Beatrice emits a sharp and sarcastic response to communicate her disaccord agreeing: “yea, and depart when you bid me”. From the first lines of the encounter it is clear Beatrice is setting a distance between her and Benedick addressing him with the formal pronoun “you”, on the contrary Benedick seems to be loving and caring as he uses the pronoun “thou” therefore attempting to initiate a more personal discussion. Shakespeare uses the variation of pronouns to communicate both of the characters feelings, this use of language is comparable to the use formal and informal pronouns. Furthermore the discussion between Benedick and Beatrice seems to be steered by the female character, inversing the rôle of power. There is a clear imbalance between the amount said by each character, in this case Beatrice has the leading rôle as she is the one to talk most. a
Beatrice’s practical wit does not seem to be employed for humorous purposes but more to convey her feeling of anger and injustice, this is shown by her snappy response “foul breath is noisome, therefore i will depart”, in this scene we see the true anger felt by Beatrice regarding the injustice towards her cousin but also imposed on women. Beatrice takes on the rôle of power by influencing Benedick through affection, “unkissed”, he has for her, pushing her argument forwards. She demands to know what happened between Claudio and Benedick, bargaining her love in response. Once she is satisfied she is happy to restitute the rôle of power to Benedick as though a sign of respect, this is shown by Benedick taking the lead in the conversation “for which of my bad parts did you fall in love with me”. The restitution of power to Benedick creates a sense of balance allowing the conversation to fluctuate back towards the theme of love. The couple goes back to its initial playfull wit, flirting with one another over who fell in love with who and why.
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The theme of sufferance and negativity is very present throughout the extract, this is surprising as the conversation manly rotates around the subject of love. The repetition of the word “foul” lines 38-39-40, sets the tone of the conversation, the audience is deceived to anticipates an argument between the two characters. Furthermore suffering is explored through the theme of love. The characters “suffer love” for one another, this explores the inexplicability of their love for one another, reflecting their love hate relationship. The oxymoron of “suffering love” is also emphasised by Shakespeare’s choice to pair antonyms together: “heart” and “spite”, “hate” and “love”. This odd pairing of words reflects the odd pairing of Benedick and Beatrice as well as their relationship.
The use and rôle of words is specifically important in the last Act (compared to the plot), throughout the play words mark the limit and boundaries of the characters, there is only so much they can say and express. The characters thoughts and feelings are limited by words, trapped by words, this is shown through the poem that Bendedick had attempted to write but also gives way to most of the tension within the couple. In this extract parallels between violent battles, battles of wits, and the battle of sex (see the discussion between Margaret and Benedick) are extended here. For Benedick and Beatrice, the same way of speaking works for both flirting and fighting. The banter and disagreement between the two characters immediately becomes a conversation over how they fell in love with each other.
In this extract Shakespeare brings all the theme and emotions of the play together. Not only does Beatrice convey her anger against Claudio clearly but Benedicks loyalty towards Beatrice reflect his response. Both themes of love and suffering are explored through the characters as well as the never ending, always present sexual tension between the lovers. This extract appears to be a summary of the adventures of the two characters, therefore this is a key moment of the play as it seems to finalize the image and personality of the characters as well as the way the audience perceives them.
In conclusion, Shakespeare dedicates this extract to summarize the relationship between Benedick and Beatrice. This is done through summarizing the themes of the play and showing the couples true colors. The argument leading to a discussion over lover characterizes the relationship between the two strengthening and finalizing the audience’s perception of Beatrice and Benedick. This extract is therefore a key turning point for the two characters.