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Benedick is a soldier serving in Don Pedro’s army in Padua. He has a beard at the beginning of the play, and no beard by the end. Benedick has a profound distaste for women, and Beatrice holds place as his favorite verbal sparring partner. When Claudio (a dim-witted Count of Don Pedro's court) falls in love with Hero, Benedick is disgusted that an otherwise apparently happy man is going to abandon his solitary bachelorhood station. According to Beatrice, he finds a new best friend each month, at present the position is filled by Claudio. The history between Benedick and Beatrice is well known by all. When Benedick overhears a conversation designed to make him fall in love with Beatrice, he realizes that there is nothing he can do, not that he really wants to, and determines to marry her. He shaves off his beard and becomes depressed, or at least pretends to be, since he thinks all lovers act this way. He stays with Beatrice and her family instead of leaving after the altercation at the church. Benedick believes it is the work of Don John (Don Pedro's bastard half-brother). Torn between Claudio and Beatrice, he chooses Beatrice and agrees to fight Claudio to the death. He realizes that he is a terrible poet, and gives up trying to write a sonnet for Beatrice. He does, however, discover that kissing Beatrice is one way to make her be quiet, and learns to love music and dancing. And, in a twist no one saw coming, begins to taunt the Prince for being a bachelor! After Don John's capture, Benedick says to Don Pedro, "Think not on him till to-morrow; I'll devise thee brave punishments for him. Strike up, pipers!" Benedick emerges as a very different character than at the beginning of the play.
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