Much Ado About Nothing

Benedick as an Entertaining Outsider College

Benedick as an Entertaining Outsider

One of Much Ado About Nothing’s most beloved characters is Benedick, a willful and theatrical lord who vows to never be married. Throughout the play he demonstrates himself to be an entertainer to such an extent that it is difficult for the audience to discern whether he has been in love with Beatrice all along or if he has suddenly fallen for her at some point in the play. Also remarkable about this character is that as he develops, he switches allegiances, effectively reversing his role as an outsider.

We are first introduced to Benedick’s wit by way of his first line in response to Leonato’s assertion that Hero’s mother claims she is his daughter: “Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?” (1.1.104). He continues to demonstrate his rhetorical prowess and quick wit through his flytings with Beatrice, even when confessing his love to her in Act 4, scene 1. These characteristics present him as a thoroughly comic figure in the play, not only to the audience but to his companions as well. At the masquerade, Beatrice’s antagonistic description of him gives rise to his display of a tendency toward hyperbolic drama:

Why, he is the Prince’s jester, a very dull fool; only his gift is in devising...

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