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Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

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What is the difference between the gulling scenes of man and woman in act 2, scene 3 and act 3, scene 2 in Much Ado About Nothing?

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One interesting way to approach answering this question would be to consider the response of both Beatrice and Benedick to hearing the elaborate deception of their friends in stating that the other is in love with them. This yields particularly interesting results. Interestingly, if you do this, it is Beatrice that comes out looking much better than Benedick.

It is in Act II scene iii when Benedick is gulled, and this scene is much longer than the following scene in Act III scene i when Beatrice is similarly ensnared. However, what is interesting to note is Benedick's reaction after Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio have left. Benedick's biggest preoccupation seems to be what they will think of him in receiving the love of Beatrice rather than any concern for Beatrice herself. Also, the declaration that he makes to justify his change of heart hardly endears us to him:

No. The world must be peopled. When I said I would die a batchelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.

Benedick apparently needs to go through quite a significant internal debate before he can decide to accept this love and court Beatrice.

However, Beatrice, in Act III scene i, needs no such internal debate and does not worry about what others will think of her. What she has heard is enough to change her completely. Note her instantaneous transformation:

What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?

Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorn so much?

Contempt, farewell; and maiden pride, adieu.

No glory lives behind the back of such.

And, Benedick, love on.

It is hard to escape the fact that Beatrice seems to be more easily tricked, but that her change of heart is all the more noble and endearing because of her instant decision to let Benedick "love on."

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