Passion vs. Reason
Sometimes, when a man and a woman are interested in each other, they pretend to feel exactly the opposite. They hide their feelings of love inside and act like they absolutely hate each other. Being too proud to concede their love, they leave themselves vulnerable to rejection by the other one, and they continue the farce. This situation is often associated with relationships that take place during the adolescent stages of people s lives, but in Much Ado About Nothing these types of goings on take place between a mature man and woman. These characters are Benedict and Beatrice. Every time they met, battles of wit and words begin. Not one kind word was uttered between the two. Their love was never to be realized though, until they both fell victim to underhanded plots devised by their friends. Shakespeare comments on many aspects of love and relationships in his plays including Much Ado About Nothing. One of these aspects being Passion vs. Reason, is displayed through the relationship of Beatrice and Benedict. The aspect of Passion vs. Reason greatly affects the two throughout the play.
The notion that Beatrice was not fond of Benedict was conveyed very early in the first act. As news of the arrival of Benedict and company to Messina was announced, Beatrice immediately started to poke fun at him. She inquired as to who he had become friendly with and then began to say she knew Benedict to be fickle and have a new sworn friend every time that she sees him. This was the first clue to her distaste and also lets one see that she had some sort of interaction with Benedict in the past that left her feeling this way toward him. Soon after this scene, Benedict arrives and almost instantaneously they began to quarrel with each other. They kept on bickering and arguing, never letting the other get the last word in and never giving up any ground in their battle. For each, their cunning wit was the weapon of choice. Judging by the way that they seemed to have been acting, one would guess that there was a genuine hatred between the two, but the way that they carried on makes one must think that there was something more at hand. It might have clued the reader in to a suppressed sense of competition between the two which could have been brought about by a sense of insecurity that each of them possessed. They seemed to always need the approval of their friends and could never possibly have given in to one another. This is evident because their quarrels were always in public and neither of them ever wanted to lose those battles. They never seemed to lose the anger that they possessed and always tried to get in the last word, never conceding to the other at all. They always had be the victor in front of their companions.
One night while at a masked ball under disguise Benedict goes to ask Beatrice to dance with him. She, unknowing that it is he, went on to inquire about the masked man s knowledge of Benedict. She then went on to make fun of him, calling him a jester and a simple object of amusement to the Prince and all of his company. She lashed out even more and said that they did not truly like him at all, and if it had not been for their amusement by him, he would not be with them. Since Benedict was the man behind the mask he was unable defend himself without having given up his identity, which then would have created a scene with Beatrice. This was not something that he wanted, which was obvious because he did go to her to dance and no one else. He was starting to show the reader his interest in her and the way he did it under the comfort of the mask assures that he would not to be ridiculed by her if she knew if it was him asking her to dance. This proved the insecurity that he possessed. Though Beatrice gave fewer obvious clues as to her interest in Benedict, one could have guessed that since she always was talking and thinking about him that she must have possessed some kind of feelings for him.
Their feelings were starting to become a little bit more evident as the play further unfolded. It was shown that they interacted frequently and always spoke of the other, even when the other was not around. That was a major clue as to a relationship that might transpire between the two apparent enemies. The friends and companions of both Beatrice and Benedict realized the tension between the two but saw it as playful flirting. Benedict had even told Claudio that he had seen none fairer then Beatrice early in the play, which solidified their suspicions. They decide that they will put some effort into finally bringing the two enemies together for they had realized that the quarrels between the two were displays of passion and indeed reason in mask of love.
The Prince, Leonato, and Claudio set forth to fool Benedict into submitting his love to Beatrice. They found him when he was all alone and then walked along and as he hid, and pretended not to see him. They then spoke of how Beatrice was in love with Benedict, and that it was too bad because Benedict could never love her after all that he had said. This triggered something inside Benedict that made him realize that he did love Beatrice and now that he thought that her love of him was out in the open he was no longer afraid of the ridicule that rejection would have brought about. He was going to change his ways towards her and express his new found love. Beatrice was the victim of a similar scheme by her friends Hero and Ursula. They spoke of how Benedick s love of Beatrice was useless because Beatrice could never love a man after all that she has said. This prompted thoughts in her head similar to those in Benedick s. They both now thought that it was safe to let down their guard and admit their love. Due to the fact that both of them were too insecure to do so at first, they had to be tricked into admitting their love and halting the bickering. Though slowly at first, in gradual steps they began to converse peacefully. Then, though still with some wit in public as to save some face, they begin to become enamored with one another.
Trouble did not stay far from this growing relationship though. After Claudio humiliated Hero at their proposed wedding, by accusing her of sleeping with other men, Hero passed out. Claudio, the Prince, and Benedict all thought that she was dead as this was what Leonato told them. Being a strong-headed woman and clearly upset by all of this Beatrice ordered Benedict to go against his sworn friends and challenge Claudio to a duel to avenge the death of Hero. Benedict unhappy, but unwilling to lose his love, agrees and challenges Claudio. This shows just how truly in love with Beatrice that Benedict was, and they were just caught up in their quibbles to realize it. He, just to keep Beatrice s love, swore to challenge a man much more experienced in battle than himself. Luckily, as the details unfolded and the Prince and Claudio were informed of the trickery that was involved in their being led to believe that Hero was unfaithful, the duel did not take place. The action that Benedict took was not only a brave one but was a testament to his love for Beatrice. Benedict then proposed to marry Beatrice in public, and she accepted. The two former enemies were now going to be joined in holy matrimony.
Passion vs. reason was largely illustrated through the relationship between Beatrice and Benedict. The details of this odd relationship as they unfolded added a very scintillating piece to the play. Benedict, seeming too proud to ever admit that he loved anyone, and also having sworn on numerous occasions against marriage, was to ultimately be a husband. His fear of being a cuckold in the eyes of his friends was finally put to the side as he proposed to Beatrice. Beatrice, who once seemed too proud to love, was finally to be wed to Benedict in spite of having sworn on numerous occasions against men all together. Being a woman that prided herself on her wit and her ability to never seem affected by anything, Beatrice was to now substitute those feelings for ones of love toward Benedict. This match was certainly one that was perfect for a play. Two apparent opposites were drawn together by their hidden affection for one another. Though their love may never have come to be if it were not for the guile of their friends, it eventually developed. This completion should give the reader a sense of happiness and satisfaction. An emotion which would be shared with the once bitter Beatrice and Benedict.