Thursday, August 18, 2011
The reactions of Beatrice and Benedick
In Acts 2 and 3, we found that it was very interesting to note the differences in the two scenes where Beatrice and Benedick are each tricked by their friends into believing the other is in love.
Benedick's scene is entirely in prose with many asides and lots of joking and exaggerations; Benedick's final comment on the scene is still humorous.
In Beatrice's scene, which is entirely in verse, she says not a word while listening. Hero (who has hardly been able to get a word in because Beatrice constantly answers for her) provides what appears to be truth in jest, scathing remarks about Beatrice's overbearing nature. Beatrice's final comment on the scene is in verse, the first time she has spoken verse in the play, and her shock at what the other women think of her is foremost on her mind, before Benedick. Very interesting.
Although both scenes are usually played for laughs, one must keep in mind that Shakespeare rarely (if ever) has two scenes in a row with identical tones. More often, parallel scenes reflect and comment on each other, giving us different ways of looking at the same thing. What are we supposed to learn from these two similar but different scenes? Ah, that is why we read Shakespeare. :-]
The next time we see Benedick, he has a toothache, and Beatrice has a stuffy nose and a bad cold. Both of these symptoms are a result of falling in love, when the humours (vapors or fluids) of one's body create an abundance of phlegm in reaction to an emotional upheaval. (Elizabethans thought phlegm—or minuscule worms—created toothaches.)
Join us on August 28 for Act 4!
Above: Three of the dons of the Santa Fe Shakespeare Society, as we break from reading to discuss a scene.