Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

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How do Benedick and Beatrice insult each other, mainly in act 1, scene 1, but throughout the play as well?

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As Leonato in the first scene of this play, in reference to Beatrice's facetious queries as to how many men Benedick has killed and eaten, "there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick" and his niece. This scene serves to give the audience an insight into the nature of the relationship between the two, and its structure allows us to see that Beatrice "insults" Benedick habitually when he is not present, as at the very beginning of the scene, and Benedick also speaks critically of Beatrice to his friends, as at the end of the scene. It is not only when they are together that the "skirmish of wit" takes place: both Benedick and Beatrice make sure to continue their war even when they are not together.

Of course, their preoccupation with thinking up witty criticisms of each other leads those around them to question what this interaction really implies, and whether the insults are truly meant as such. Benedick remarks on Beatrice's "fury" to Claudio, but he also says that she...

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