Illustration of Hero wearing a mask

Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

Start Free Trial

How do Hero/Claudio and Beatrice/Benedick's love stories counterbalance in Much Ado About Nothing?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Much Ado About Nothing features two love stories: Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero.

When the play opens, we learn that Beatrice and Benedick are engaged in a battle of wits. They often jest with each other. Benedick arrives back from the war with Claudio, who immediately is smitten with Beatrice's cousin Hero. Don Pedro helps Claudio woo Hero, and within the first half of the play they are engaged to be married.

Hero and Claudio, with help from the others, decide to trick the master tricksters Benedick and Beatrice into falling for each other. The friends make sure our protagonists overhear them discussing how one has a crush on the other, and vice versa. Believing that the other loves them makes Benedick and Beatrice fall for each other.

Meanwhile, Don John concocts a plan that makes Claudio believe Hero is unfaithful. Claudio disgraces his fiancée at the altar. By the time he find out the truth, that the adultery was all a lie, a new scheme makes him think Hero is dead. He promises to wed an unknown niece of Leonato's in repentance, who turns out to be Hero in a disguise. The two happily reunite. Benedick and Beatrice publicly admit their feelings for each other, and the two couples end the play in love.

While the two couples end up happily together, their journey to get their is very different. Hero and Claudio fall for each other at first sight and quickly become engaged. On the other hand, Benedick and Beatrice have known each other for a while, but do not recognize their feelings until they are tricked by their friends. The way they talk to each other is very different from how Hero and Claudio talk to each other. Thus, the two couples counter balance each other.

However, while Hero and Claudio have a quick, easy path to falling in love, their relationship takes a turn for the worse. It is clear everyone understands the battle of wits between Beatrice and Benedick, so when they insult each other it is taken as jesting. Claudio, however, slings real insults at Hero on their wedding day. The story becomes very dark after the failed wedding. After Claudio spurns Hero, Beatrice and Benedick have a very honest and emotional conversation. Shakespeare especially contrasts the couples in that scene.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial