In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick says that he has heard how they censured him. Why was he censured?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing has a great scene in it where Benedick's friends are conning him into believing that Beatrice loves him. All of Benedick's and Beatrice's friends know that the two would make a great pair, but they argue so much that they get in the way of the relationship that they could have. During the aforementioned scene, Benedick eavesdrops on his friends' conversation about him. He hears them lovingly counsel about and criticize him for his behavior with Beatrice whom they declare actually loves him. Benedick's response is, "Love me? Why, it must be required. I hear how I am censured. They say I will bear myself proudly if I perceive the love come from her" (II.iii.204-206). When using context clues to help, one can clearly see that "censured" here means that Benedick is being analyzed or criticized. His friends are verbally analyzing his behavior so he can understand how he would act in front of Beatrice if he ever found out that she actually loves him. The hope is that if they point this out to him, maybe he would be less likely to spoil the relationship if it actually matured. Luckily, Benedick does take into account what his friends are saying and considers the truth of it. For a very proud character who argues with anyone about love, Benedick's friends accomplished a demanding task by setting him up to hear the criticizing words indirectly as he eavesdrops on the conversation. Had his friends directly told Benedick that he was behaving improperly towards Beatrice, he would have merely argued the point to death. This is one of the best comedic scenes in the play.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial