Essential Passages by Character: Beatrice
Essential Passage 1: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 50-59
You must not, my lord, mistake my niece. There is
a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her.
They never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between
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.
Beatrice, niece to Leonato of Messina, is hearing news from a messenger of the approach of Don Pedro and Aragon and his company. Included in that group is Benedick, with whom Beatrice has a long-running battle of wits. Acting as though they despise each other, Beatrice and Benedick exchange continual barbs on every occasion that they meet. Each proclaims his or her contempt of the other, with each one proclaiming victory. In terms of "battle," and in conjunction with the return of the army after a military excursion involving the repression of a rebellion on the part of Don John (the illegitimate brother of Don Pedro), Beatrice describes for the messenger her last encounter with Benedick. He lost that battle but managed to survive with “one wit” left. Now, according to Beatrice, he is functioning with his one remaining wit, her point being that he is even less than a half-wit.
Essential Passage 2: Act 2, Scene 1, Lines 27-42
You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
What should I do with him? dress him in my
apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that
hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no
beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth
is not for me; and he that is less than a man, I am not for
him. Therefore I will even take sixpence in earnest of the
bear-ward and lead his apes into...
(The entire section is 1469 words.)
Essential Passages by Theme: Deception
Essential Passage 1: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 280-288
I know we shall have revelling to-night.
I will assume thy part in some disguise
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart
And take her hearing prisoner with the force
And strong encounter of my amorous tale.
Then after to her father will I break;
And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
In practice let us put it presently.
Claudio, Don Pedro’s most trusted comrade-in-arms, is in love with Hero, the daughter of Leonato. Having returned from putting down a rebellion by Don Pedro’s brother, Don John, Claudio returns to Messina with the troops, who are invited to state with Leonato for a month. Claudio, along with the others, has been acquainted with the household of Leonato for some time. Claudio has noticed Hero prior to going off to battle, but has said nothing to her of his affections. Unsure of himself in love, Claudio is reluctant to speak to her. Don Pedro, out of friendship, suggests a solution by which Claudio may find out Hero’s feelings for Claudio without Claudio being vulnerable to rejection. Leonato that night is giving a ball for the troops, during which all the party-goers will be wearing masks. Don Pedro suggests that he, disguised by his mask, pretend to be Claudio. He will then woo her, securing her affections for Claudio, so that the latter can then approach her with full confidence of acceptance. Don Pedro will then speak to Leonato on Claudio’s behalf.
Essential Passage 2: Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 19-43
The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to
the prince your brother; spare not to tell him that he hath
wronged his honour in marrying the renowned Claudio
whose estimation do you mightily hold up, to a
contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.
What proof shall I make of that?
Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex Claudio,
to undo Hero, and kill Leonato....
(The entire section is 1857 words.)