Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing: Character Analysis & Description

Instructor: Rachel Hanson
In this lesson, we learn that Benedick is similar to the character Beatrice in ''Much Ado About Nothing''. Both have sharp tongues and quick wit. We also learn that Benedick overcomes his aversion to marriage and feels loyal to the one he loves most.

Benedick the Witty

One thing we learn fairly early in the play Much Ado About Nothing is that Lady Beatrice, upon learning that Benedick is returning from war, immediately begins to criticize him before he even arrives. She claims he is a bore, attaching himself to a new brother every so often and weighing the said individual - in this case, Claudio - down. She also questions whether or not Benedick was useful in the war, doubting his ability to have accomplished much on the battlefield. And so this is our first introduction to Benedick - through the words of Beatrice.

When Benedick does first appear, moments later, his first line is a joke; he cracks whether or not Leonato had reason to question if he was in fact Hero's father. As Benedick continues to follow up with his joke, Beatrice cuts him off, asking why he still speaks as no one listens to him. To which Benedick replies: ''What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?'' And so we are off, eagerly awaiting the next witty exchange between Benedick and Beatrice, and like several of the characters in the play will come to determine, we also can't help but think the two characters are a perfect match for one another.

Just Say No to Marriage

Benedick is determined to remain a bachelor. Much like Beatrice, he claims to have no interest in love or marriage. In fact, his aversion is so extreme that he's appalled Count Claudio should desire to marry Hero, decrying his willing loss of bachelorhood. Furthermore, he claims he has little use for women at all. Consider the following quote:

''That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks: but that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me. Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none; and the fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.''

As we can see from Benedick's expression of distrust toward women, we might ask ourselves if he, also like Beatrice, isn't a bit more afraid of wounded pride and a broken heart than he is of marriage. This is especially clear when he later overhears Lord Leonato, Don Pedro, and Count Claudio discussing how Beatrice pines for him in secret, her heart brimming with love. And though we know they are making it up, their lie fools Benedick.

Again, however, given Benedick's intelligence and wit, we might ask ourselves if he isn't happy to believe the lie, happy by the idea of being loved by Beatrice. As such, we might consider Benedick a more layered character than he appears on the surface.

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