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Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare
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What does Benedick mean by "shall make an oyster of me" in Much Ado About Nothing, act 2, scene 3?

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Benedick is expressing astonishment that a man like Claudio, who's always laughed at men making fools of themselves over love, has became just like them. Benedick resolves that he will never end up the same way as them. To be sure, Benedick can't promise that he won't fall in love or that love won't affect him in any way. He's only human, after all, but what he won't do is allow himself to be made a fool of by a woman, no matter how beautiful she is. Only when a woman comes along who combines the key attributes of wisdom, beauty, and virtue will Benedick be transformed into an "oyster."

What Shakespeare is possibly referring to here is the Greek philosopher Plato's distinction between a life devoted to pleasure—as symbolized by the eating of oysters—and one devoted to the pursuit of knowledge, with the latter being regarded as vastly superior. So what Benedick is saying here is that he will only become an "oyster," (i.e., someone who pursues the pleasures of love), once he's secure in the knowledge that he's found the right woman who possesses beauty, wisdom, and virtue.

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