Much Ado About Nothing

by: William Shakespeare

Beatrice

God help the noble Claudio! If he have caught the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere a be cured. (A1,S1)

Here, Beatrice refers to Benedick as though he were a contagious disease. This barb reveals more of Beatrice’s feelings toward Benedick than she likely intends. Though she means to slight Benedick, calling him a disease reveals that she finds him difficult to shake, and has yet to be cured of this contagion.

I thank God and my cold blood I am of your humor for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me. (A1,S1)

As she does many times throughout the play, Beatrice declares loud and clear that she has no interest in love. Her tendency to decry love to anyone who will listen suggests that she is trying to convince herself most of all. Though her denial is humorous, we can see why the ruse is so important to her. Beatrice defines herself by her independence, so the idea of giving oneself over to another would feel like a defeat to her.

Benedictus! Why benedictus? You have some moral in this benedictus? (A3,S4)

When the maid Margaret teases Beatrice that only the herb carduus benedictus will cure what ails her, Beatrice becomes defensive, asking what Margaret means by the joke though she likely knows very well. Beatrice and Benedick’s secret attraction is a running source of humor for their friends, but while Beatrice loves being on the giving end of mockery, she is far too proud to accept the vulnerability she feels at the receiving end.

Nature never framed a woman’s heart Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice. Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes, Misprizing what they look on, and her wit Values itself so highly that to her All matter else seems weak. (A3,S1)

Here, Hero describes Beatrice as armored by her caustic wit, so much so that nothing can get out or in. Though Beatrice views this impenetrability as a strength, and sees herself as a cut above most, Hero all but pities her. The fact that Beatrice’s reputation is a source of pity and humor amongst her friends robs her of her imagined superiority.

Oh, on my soul, my cousin is belied! (A4,S1)

When Claudio accuses Hero of infidelity, Beatrice stands up for Hero’s honor when barely anyone else will. For all of Beatrice’s coldness, her heart is in the right place. She is intelligent enough to smell deception, righteous enough to speak up, and caring enough to go out on a limb for her fellow woman.

I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest. (A4,S1)

In a moment alone with Benedick, Beatrice finally admits that she loves him. Though she still fights against the feeling, her admission of truth is undisguised by jokes or jabs. We see here that a true depth of feeling exists within Beatrice, and realize the extent to which she has purposefully hidden that depth.