When reading Shakespeare it is somewhat difficult to distinguish what this brilliant author is trying to portray in his works. This is mainly due to the use of old English text and constant hidden meanings behind much, if not all of his material. That is why it must be understood, that when analyzing a Shakespearean piece it is necessary to provide clear and focused evidence surrounding a specific thesis. If it is not done in this manner, information becomes too broad and makes it difficult for any reader to understand clearly what a certain topic is about.
Beatrice and Bene*censored* are essentially the main characters in William Shakespeare?s ?Much Ado About Nothing? or further, they will be considered the main point of argument throughout this paper. As mentioned previously, there needs to be a clear thesis in order to analyze a certain portion of the play in focus. As it pertains to the two characters, Beatrice and Bene*censored*, which has to a higher degree, more wit and intelligence? On account of reasons mentioned later, Beatrice is above and beyond the intelligence and wit of Bene*censored*. In order to achieve a clear understanding of how and why each are witty and intelligent, and then to provide support as to how and why one is superior in that area will require much textual support and specific thoughts from that text.
In the opening scene of the play the audience discovers that there was a battle being fought and several men are on their way home from the battlefield. Beatrice, who overhears his uncle and a messenger talking, asks about one man in particular-who turns out to be Bene*censored*. When she asks this messenger about him, she doesn?t use his name directly, she instead calls him, ?Signor Montanto?. By using this reference she is without a doubt being quite ironic. Beatrice could be using this term to mean a move in fencing, which is an upward thrust. Also, the way she pronounces it, Mount-on-to, could describe a specific sexual connotation pertaining to intercourse. Either way, one cannot help but to think that Bene*censored* is of course on her mind and she thinks of him in quite a disturbing way. During the same conversation she attacks the very wit that this paper is alluding to. She says:
Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one; so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse, for it is all the wealth that he hath left to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now? He hat every month a new sworn brother (98, ln. 62)
By this Beatrice is trying to say that Bene*censored* uses his wit to gain friendship and companionship. After she makes this clear she remarks that the only real companionship that he has gained is that of his horse.
When Bene*censored* makes his presence into the play he wastes no time in getting a response from Beatrice: ?If Signor Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is? (101, ln. 109). Here, Bene*censored* is referring to a cuckold?s horns (with that is derived yet another sexual connotation) and his aim is to have Hero, Leonato?s daughter object. Saying this will in turn provoke a response from Beatrice and thus, start a conversation. This remark displays Bene*censored*?s wit directly as he uses others to provoke and more specifically, ?egg-on? Beatrice.
After this opening scene with the two characters, an onslaught of wit and intelligence is thrown about between the two in a dialogue that resembles that of war itself. Beatrice first begins by saying: ?I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor Bene*censored*; nobody marks you? (101, ln.112). Beatrice wonders why he is even saying anything because no one in the room has even started a conversation with him in the first place. Then, like two prizefighters exchanging blows, the audience reads:
Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signor Bene*censored*? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if you come in her presence.
In this sentence she is incurring that whenever Bene*censored* comes in contact with a woman he automatically turns courtesy (in context of ways to treat a woman) to utter hatred-disdain in fact. Bene*censored* counters this when he says:
Here, he saying how can that be, he has never loved anyone nor will he ever. Bene*censored* knows that ?all ladies? admire him but he won?t accept the charges from Beatrice because he has never been in that situation before.
Some time passes and then the masked ball scene occurs. This is a dance where every one is wearing a mask of some kind and Beatrice and Bene*censored* are dancing together. In this scene Beatrice knows that it is in fact Bene*censored* she is dancing with. Bene*censored* knows this as well but plays it off to find out what she thinks of him. Beatrice uses this time as the perfect opportunity to toy with Bene*censored* as she pleases:
Why, he is the Prince?s jester, a very dull fool. Only his gift is in devising in him, and the commendation is not in his wit but in his villainy, for he both pleases men and angers them, and then they laugh at him and beat him. I am sure he is in the fleet. I would he had boarded me.
By this comment, Beatrice again attacks his wit, but this time right to his face. She says that he should not be commended for his wit alone, but for the way he uses it-to be villainous.
Several times throughout the play both characters speak aside from everyone else. The first of which is when Bene*censored* speaks in Act II Scene III. He wonders how a man can look at two people falling in love and basically laugh at them for seeming so silly. However at the same time be so contradicting when he himself falls in love. He is thinking of Claudio at this point and then he applies what he sees to himself. He believes that he will not fall in love as Claudio did, but he doesn?t know exactly; he seems to be confused.
On the other hand, Beatrice speaks aside in Act III, Scene I. The language she uses is beautifully spoken in sonnet form as opposed to Bene*censored* who spoke in general pros with a blank verse. She knows exactly what she is thinking and what she will do without confusion as Bene*censored* portrayed. This alone should provide meaningful insight into why Beatrice is in fact wittier than Bene*censored*.
In Act IV, Scene I Beatrice is about to protest that she loves Bene*censored*. As she is about to do this Beatrice concocts a brilliant plan to test Bene*censored* one last time. She tells him to kill Claudio for wronging her cousin. At first Bene*censored* says, ?Ha! Not for the wide world (172, ln.290).? Shortly after this dialogue he realizes his love for her:
In this excerpt Bene*censored* speaks with such conviction that one cannot help but think the effect Beatrice has had over him is not short of brilliant. She has just told him to kill his best friend, his brother of sorts, and he has willfully accepted.
In the confines of a fictional world, it is easy to make rationalizations. Shakespeare does quite an excellent job of making his fictional world seem like reality and makes believers out of non-believers. Of course it may be difficult to understand him at times, it is wonderful to analyze two characters such as Beatrice and Bene*censored*. They have such real qualities that come alive when reading the dialogue. After reading rather extensively into these two characters it becomes unmistakable that Beatrice does in fact have intellectual dominance over Bene*censored*. Her wittiness makes Bene*censored* look like nothing short of a fool, and that is why she is one of Shakespeare?s finest creations.