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Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

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Discussion Topic

Comparing and contrasting Act 2, Scene 3 and Act 3, Scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing

Summary:

Act 2, Scene 3 of Much Ado About Nothing centers on Benedick overhearing a staged conversation about Beatrice's supposed love for him, leading to his resolve to love her back. In contrast, Act 3, Scene 1 features Beatrice similarly overhearing a contrived discussion about Benedick's affection for her, resulting in her decision to reciprocate his feelings. Both scenes use eavesdropping to advance the characters' romantic developments.

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How should I compare and contrast Act 2, Scene 3 and Act 3, Scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing?

I think it was me that answered your original question about the differences between these two scenes, so I will carry on and give you some ideas on how to start your essay. Key to making your essay standing out is coming up with some kind of "attention grabber" that will draw your reader in and make them want to read more. I always say to my students that they need to imagine me sitting up late at night marking a pile of their essays. Do they want to bore me or do they want me to sit up and take notice of their essays? Obviously, anything you can do to make your introduction interesting and eye-catching will help you get a better mark.

Therefore if I were you I would think about some of the kind of themes that these two scenes bring up. The foolishness of Benedick and Beatrice in vowing not to love the other and then suddenly changing their mind is a good one. You might want to start your essay with a sentence that captures this irony and relates it to today, such as: "Love has always had the ability to make us act in foolish ways and to make us attracted to those whom formerly we have despised." This sets the context and then leaves you free to present your thesis statement and a very brief outline of the main points you will discuss in your main body.

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In Much Ado About Nothing, what literary techniques can be compared in Act 2, scene 3 and Act 3, scene 1?

I think the main approach you can take would be to look at the role of irony and how it is played out in these two scenes. Of course, both of these scenes show the complete turn around of Beatrice and Benedick, and how easily they are persuaded that they are in love with each other. The irony here is two-fold: firstly, the massive irony comes from their mutual hatred and the way that they swear they will never become emotionally involved. Secondly, there is dramatic irony as we and the other characters know that they are presenting a fabrication of the truth to Beatrice and Benedick, who just happen to be listening to this carefully staged ruse.

Note the intense irony of Benedick's words at the beginning of Act II scene 3:

I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviours to love,k will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love. And such a man is Claudio.

Benedick is so swift to bemoan the impact of love on Claudio's character, but by the very end of this scene all it takes is a few overheard comments to turn himself into that very kind of individual. Likewise, we see with Beatrice exactly the same situation. For all of her fine words and witty retorts, she is swift to fall in love and believe what she hears. Irony abounds from start to finish.

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Compare and contrast Act 2, scene 3 and Act 3, scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing.

Of course these two scenes are when Benedick and then Beatrice are both fooled into falling in love with the other, however, in spite of their many comparisons (both are tricked by their friends into loving the other and changing their characters) there are also many contrasts that we can draw between the two scenes.

Of course, Act II scene 3 contains wonderful irony, as Benedick begins with a soliloquy where he mocks the transformation that has changed Claudio from a brave warrior into a lover:

I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love. And such a man is Claudio.

Little does Benedick know that he is such a man as well, and will suffer a similar tranformation. However, in spite of the way that both of these strong characters are tricked into falling in love and showing such "foolish" transformations in their personality, Act III scene 1 lacks the same strength as Act II scene 3. It is shorter in length, and Beatrice's transformation is not as amusing as that of Benedick's.

Likewise the response of both the characters to their new-found love is different. Note how Benedick is primarily concerned about his reputation, whereas Beatrice declares her love in blank verse and immediately accepts Benedick, giving her "conversion" dignity and completeness:

And, Benedick, love on. I will requite thee,

Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand.

If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee

To bind our loves up in a holy band.

Beatrice accepts the situation completely and resolves to change, whereas Benedick is primarily concerned with himself at first, though arguably he does become transformed later on in the play.

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