IntroductionIn his play, Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare shows that although friends and family may play a role in influencing romantic choices, people ultimately choose whom they will fall in love with themselves.
Protagonists Claudio and Beatrice attempt to match up their friends Beatrice and Benedick, although the two despise one another. Several characters in the play, including those Benedick respects team up to make him believe that Beatrice is in love with him. Yet while these figures play a role in directing Benedick’s affections, it is Benedick himself who chooses to return Beatrice’s supposed love. “Love me!” he says. “Why, it must be requited.”
Beatrice, too, chooses to fall in love with Benedick, choosing to fall in love with him in spite of all his bad parts. When Benedick asks here which of his bad parts she first fell in love with, she tells him, “For all of them together, which maintained so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to mingle with them.”
The reader knows that the two have chosen to love one another, not because of the wishes of their friends, but because of their own feelings, because the two maintain their relationship even when their friends, Hero and Claudio, fall out with one another. When Claudio is tricked into believing that Hero has been unfaithful to him, he denounces her on their would-be wedding day and breaks her heart. We see that Benedick puts Beatrice even before his own friendship, because, for her sake, he challenges his friend Claudio to a duel. “I must tell you plainly,” he says to her, “Claudio undergoes my challenge, and either I must hear from him, or I will subscribe him a coward.”
When the two realize that their friends have tried to influence them, they try to deny that they love each other willingly, but are proven wrong when friends of both of them show that the two have been writing sonnets to each other with their own hands. Then Benedict tells Beatrice “A miracle! here’s our own hands against our hearts. Come, I will have thee.”
Although Benedict and Beatrice’s friends did guide them toward loving each other, they themselves ultimately chose who they would love. This is the theme of Much Ado about Nothing.
- Shakespeare, William. “Much Ado About Nothing.” 1993. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Online. 26 October 2015.