How does Shakespere present relationships in Act 1 Scene 1 in Much Ado About Nothing?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act I, scene i of Much Ado About Nothing, Leonato, governor of Messina, speaks to a messenger:

I find here that Don Peter hath
bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio.

Messenger

Much deserved on his part and equally remembered by
Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the
promise of his age, doing, in the figure of a lamb,
the feats of a lion:

This is both animal and war imagery.  It is established that Don Pedro is a great warrior, as he has lost few men in the latest battles.  More, he has developed a young soldier, Claudio, who--despite his young looks--has proved himself a courageous warrior in battle.  The metaphor "figure of a lamb" shows youth and innocence, while the "feats of a lion" shows skill and experience.

Later, Beatrice mocks Benedick's reputation as a male warrior:

He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged
Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge,
subscribed for Cupid and challenged him at the
birdboltI pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten(35)
in these wars? But how many hath he killed? For, indeed
I promised to eat all of his killing.

She likens herself to a female bird of prey who will "eat all of his killing," thus implying that Benedick manly reputation in battle is overrated.  She both envies and disdains the male gender role in war.

Read the study guide:
Much Ado About Nothing

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