List of contents
2. The play, the characters and their relationship
2.1 The play – Much Ado about Nothing
2.1.1 The author William Shakespeare
2.1.2 The characters
2.1.3 Short summary of the play
2.1.4 The origins of the play
2.2 Benedick & Beatrice
2.2.1 Characterisation of Benedick
2.2.2 Characterisation of Beatrice
2.2.3 The relationship of the couple
2.3 Claudio & Hero
2.3.1 Characterisation of Claudio
2.3.2 Characterisation of Hero
2.3.3 The relationship of the couple
2.4 Comparison of both relationships
The following paper deals with the comparison of the two relationships in William Shakespeares’ Much Ado about Nothing. The first section of the main part contains a short introduction of the author William Shakespeare himself. Furthermore the play itself is introduced with a short description of every important character, a summary of its content, and a brief paragraph about the origine of Much Ado about Nothing as a play.
In the first and second section of the main part the four main characters Benedick, Beatrice, Claudio, and Hero are revisualised in detail before their respective relationship is described and analysed. The third section of the main part of this paper handles the comparison of the two partnerships. Here possible similarities and differences will be shown and discussed before a conclusion is drawn in the very last part of the paper.
Short-term objective of this paper is to analyse similarities and differences of the two relationships between Benedick & Beatrice and Claudio & Hero. A long-term objective is to find out, which one of the two partnerships fits better into the standard of the Elizabethan age. At the very end of the paper a short perspective shall be given about our point of view concerning the question of which relationship probably lasts longer in the end.
2. The play, the characters and their relationships
2.1 The Play - Much Ado about Nothing
2.1.1 The author – William Shakespeare
Shakespeare was born in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. His parents were John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. There is no record of his birth but his baptism was recorded by the church, thus his birthday is assumed to be the 23rd of April. His father was an important and wealthy alderman in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Later he was granted a coat of arms by the College of Heralds. All that is known of Shakespeare's youth is that he presumably attended the Stratford Grammar School and did not proceed to Oxford or Cambridge. The next chronicle we have is Shakespeare’s marriage to Anne Hathaway in 1582. One year after the wedding she bore a daughter for him, Susanna. Two years later the twins Judith and Hamnet followed.
Seven years later, Shakespeare was recognized as an actor, poet, and playwright. A few years later, he joined one of the most successful acting groups in London: "The Lord Chamberlain's Men." In 1599 the group lost the lease of the theatre where they performed. But they were wealthy enough to build their own theatre across the Thames, south of London, which they called "The Globe." The new theatre opened in July of 1599. It was built from the timbers of the former theatre with the motto "Totus mundus agit histrionem" (A whole world of players). When James I came to the throne (1603) the group was designated by the new king as the "King's Men" (or "King's Company"). The Letters Patent of the company specifically allowed Shakespeare and eight others to play everything which was imaginable such as comedies, tragedies, and so on. Shakespeare entertained the King and the people for another ten years until June 19, 1613, when a canon fired from the roof of the theatre for a gala performance of Henry VIII set fire to the thatch roof and burned the theatre to the ground. The audience ignored the smoke from the roof at first, being too absorbed in the play, until the flames caught the walls and the fabric of the curtains. Amazingly there were no casualties, and the next spring the company had rebuilt the theatre. Although Shakespeare invested in the rebuilding, he retired from the stage to the Great House of New Place in Statford that he had purchased in 1597, and some considerable land holdings, where he continued to write until his death in 1616 on the day of his 52nd birthday.
2.1.2 The characters
With the help of the following list of characters one can understand the short summary of the play better.
Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, is a military commander who brings his troops to Messina. He woos Hero for Claudio and later plots an intrigue to bring together Benedick and Beatrice. Benedick of Padua is a lord and companion of Don Pedro. He talks far too much. Benedick in a way gets `forced´ to marry Beatrice after Don Pedro planned the conspiracy and made him think she loves him. Beatrice is an orphan, the niece of Leonato. Beatrice talks a great deal and is very witty but determined not to marry. However, Don Pedro plans a consipracy that brings her together with Benedick. They marry at the end. Claudio is a lord and companion of Don Pedro, too. He falls in love with Hero and allows Don Pedro to woo her for him. Hero, the daughter of Leonato, is publicly disgraced by Claudio on the day of their wedding and faints. After pretending to be dead until she is proven innocent, Leonato allows her to marry Claudio. Leonato is the Governor of Messina. Don John is the bastard brother of Don Pedro. He plots against Claudio, first making Claudio think that Don Pedro is wooing Hero for himself and later, making Claudio believe that Hero has committed infidelity. Borachio, another male protagonist, is a follower of Don John. He creates the second intrigue against Claudio. Borachio meets Margaret in Hero's chambers causing Claudio to think he is seeing Hero and Borachio together and that Hero therefore is unfaithful to him. He is arrested by Dogberry's watchmen and forced to tell the truth at the end. Margaret is a waiting-gentlewoman who attends to Hero. Margaret unwittingly is thought to be Hero when she meets with Borachio in Hero's chambers. Dogberry is the constable in charge of the watch. Dogberry is a buffoon but still manages to capture Borachio and Conrad and makes them tell about the intrigue to ruin Hero's reputation. Verges is the head borough and at the same time Dogberry's partner. Conrad also is a follower of Don John. The watchmen are guards who roam the city of Messina keeping order and peace. Conrad listens to Borachio telling how Don John paid him a thousand ducats to pretend meeting Hero in her chambers, when instead he meets with Margaret. Conrad is arrested with Borachio by the watchmen. Antonio is the brother of Leonato, an old man. Antonio is furious when Claudio shames Hero. He later pretends to be Hero's father at the final wedding at the end. Friar Francis is the man meant to marry Hero and Claudio. Friar Francis tells Leonato to let everyone believe that Hero is dead so her reputation can be salvaged after Claudio´s accusations. The Sexton is the man who interrogates Borachio and Conrad. He writes down everything that they tell before going to Leonato and revealing that Hero is innocent.
2.1.3 Short summary of the play
In Act I, scene i a messenger announces Leonato the arrival of Don Pedro with a troop of soldiers, returning from a successful war. Beatrice immediately asks about Benedick and mocks him at length. They all arrive, including Don Pedro's brother John. There is a long exchange between Beatrice and Benedick, all but Benedick and Claudio leave, and Claudio reveals his love for Hero. He is not sure of her response or her family's. They tell it to Don Pedro as well. Don Pedro suggests a trick to make things easier for Claudio: he will pretend to be Claudio (masked at a masked ball) and will woo Hero in Claudio's name. In scene ii Hero's uncle learns of the plan and intends to warn Hero so that she will know what is happening. In the last scene of the first Act Don John reveals his envious nature, his pleasure in causing pain to others. And so, when Borachio tells him of Claudio's love for Hero Don John plans to cross it.
In Act II, scene i one can see Leonato, Hero and Beatrice talking: they draw parallels between Benedick and Don John. Leonato instructs Hero. The masked ball begins and all identities are hidden behind masks. Don Pedro addresses Hero. Other couples are formed including Beatrice and Benedick. Don John tells Claudio that Don Pedro is going to marry Hero tonight. Claudio, foolish as he is, believes him. But then Benedick tells Claudio that Don Pedro has been successful but is hurt by what Beatrice said about him, and so he does not bother to correct Claudio's error anymore. It comes up more joking about and between Beatrice and Benedick. Don Pedro gives Hero to Claudio, both are very happy. Don Pedro and Leonato decide to get Beatrice and Benedick married. In scene ii Don John and Borachio plan to prevent Claudio's marriage with Hero by using Margaret. In the following scene Benedick ponders in the garden on Claudio's madness in wanting to marry. Suddenly, he sees Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio coming and so he hides. The three of them lead a tricked conversation about how Beatrice loves Benedick, aware of Benedick listening. Finally, Benedick decides to accept her love.
The third Act, first scene shows Hero and her companion talk about Benedick's love for Beatrice. They know that Beatrice is overhearing them. Beatrice decides to accept his love, too. The second scene is introduced by a comic dialogue between Don Pedro, Claudio and Benedick. But then Don John enters and tells them that Hero is unfaithful and to watch her window tonight. Scene iii begins with the first appearance of Dogberry and Verges with three guards. The guards overhear Borachio boasting to Conrad of the trick Don John has played on Don Pedro and Claudio, using him with Margaret. The guards understand and arrest them.
In the following scene Hero, her women and Beatrice are talking about love and marriage. The last scene of this Act shows Dogberry who goes to Leonato to tell him about the prisoners but he is so incoherent (he mixes up words) that Leonato drives him away, telling him to interrogate them and thus does not hear about Don John´s trick.
 C.f. http://www.online-literature.com/shakespeare/ (July 2005)
 C.f. http://www.gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/muchado/charlist.shtml (July 2005)