How does one conduct a critical analysis of Claudio in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing ?
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When conducting a critical analysis of a character, we first want to identify the author's main purpose in using the character. Does the author mean to teach the reader/viewer something new, persuade the reader, or just entertain the reader? We would then evaluate whether or not the author accomplished his/her purpose. When doing a critical analysis of a character, rather than of a work as a whole, it can be helpful to first conduct a character analysis.
When conducting a character analysis, we want to probe deeply into the character. We want to consider things such as whether or not the character is ethical. Does the character govern his actions through ethics and make fair and reasonable choices? We can also consider whether or not the character is a wise character or foolish. We can also consider the character's motives for their actions. Other things we can consider in conducting a character analysis are listed in the link below.
When conducting a critical analysis of Claudio through analyzing his character, one of the things we see is that one of Shakespeare's purposes in using Claudio is to show the reader just how much damage a jealous, excessively prideful, and gullible character can do. Claudio's jealous nature is portrayed when he is tricked by Don John, not once, but twice, into doubting the people he loves, such as Don Pedro and Hero. We see Claudio's excessive pride demonstrated in his very rapid decision to publicly shame Hero should he see that she is disloyal, as we see in his lines:
If I see anything to-night why I should not marry her tomorrow, in the congregation where I should wed, there will I shame her. (III.ii.105-108).
Claudio does not stop for one instant to question Don John's honesty, even though he had already been duped by him, nor does he stop to wait for more evidence, but, out of excessive pride, decides that the only way to maintain his pride is to publicly punish and shame Hero. However, Claudio is not all bad. We see that he has a very caring nature, especially through his close friendships with Benedick and Don Pedro, and we see that he has a great capacity to feel remorseful, as we see towards the end of the play.
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