Notes on Much Ado about Nothing Themes

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Much Ado about Nothing Topic Tracking: Battle of the Sexes

Act 1, Scenes 1-3

Battle of the Sexes 1: Leonato explains the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick to the messenger. It is a camaraderie of wit and exchange of insults that represent the modern battle of the sexes. They repeatedly put one another down because of each other's sex, and the advantages and disadvantages they each possess because of it. This relationship prevails throughout the play.

Battle of the Sexes 2: Beatrice exclaims that she plans to be a bachelor for all time. She cannot stand to hear a man declare his love for her. Beatrice's independent nature is unique to Shakespeare's work. By putting down the love a woman receives from a man, Beatrice is illustrating how she believes women to be the better sex.

Battle of the Sexes 3: Benedick declares the same concept as Beatrice to his male comrades. He is a sworn bachelor, as well. He puts women down for their frivolity and mistrust. He is grateful for his mother, but plans to have no other women in his life. Like Beatrice, by insulting the female gender, he is proclaiming the male gender as supreme.

Act 2, Scenes 1-3

Battle of the Sexes 4: Beatrice entertains her family, once again, with humorous tales of men and their problems. She does understand, however, that many women are not as happy as she is to be a bachelor. Therefore, she tries to convince her cousin, Hero, to select a good man, if she must select a man. Her strength and femininity are unique and she does not try to force others to practice the same lifestyle.

Battle of the Sexes 5: In soliloquy, Benedick gives an enormous list of the requirements that his intended woman must possess. He realizes that women cannot possibly contain all such qualities and therefore he must remain a bachelor. Benedick overhears Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato's plotted conversation about Beatrice. It seems that part of the battle of the sexes may cease to exist as Benedick falls hopelessly in love with Beatrice. However, he believes her to be in love with him, and this significant element in the plot allows him to fall for her.

Act 3, Scenes 1-5

Battle of the Sexes 6: Hero, Ursula, and Margaret force Beatrice to fall in love with Benedick by telling tales "behind her back" of the glorious Italian man, Benedick. They use traps in order to establish this love affair between these two soldiers in the battle of the sexes. Beatrice has fallen for Benedick during the conversation, but still will not reveal her feelings.

Act 4, Scenes 1-2

Battle of the Sexes 7: Beatrice and Benedick proclaim their love for one another after evading the issue. They have trouble showing their feelings, for fear of being shown up by the other. Benedick is the first to declare his love and Beatrice soon follows. However, soon after they express their feelings, their battle of wit returns. Beatrice asks Benedick to kill Claudio and their friendly battle turns into something more than just a battle of words and wit.

Act 5, Scenes 1-4

Battle of the Sexes 8: Beatrice and Benedick meet again in Leonato's orchard. Benedick is still love-struck, but Beatrice begins the conversation with her insulting wit. She never ceases to battle Benedick in tongue. Their conversations are always about the differences between the sexes. So, although the two proclaimed bachelors are in love, they still insult one another through this verbal battalion.

Battle of the Sexes 9: Benedick swallows his pride and asks which masked woman is Beatrice. He does not admit that he loves her. Instead he declares that she loves him. Beatrice will not allow such humiliation, so she declares that he loves her and that she does not love him. They argue until Hero and Claudio steal their letters that confirm the love Beatrice and Benedick share. Until the end, neither Beatrice nor Benedick will admit to "defeat" in love.

Battle of the Sexes 10: The play concludes as Benedick welcomes marriage and love. He is happy and fulfilled and advises the prince to marry also. The battle of the sexes has come to a blissful conclusion.

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