Verges in Much Ado About Nothing: Character Analysis & Quotes

Instructor: Joseph Altnether

Joe has taught college English courses for several years, has a Bachelor's degree in Russian Studies and a Master's degree in English literature.

The inclusion of Verges in Shakespeare's ''Much Ado About Nothing'' amounts to little more than role of sidekick. He follows Dogberry around everywhere. Verges does demonstrate competency and some leadership, indications that his character is not as shallow as he appears.

Stereotype

No matter the medium, when two members of the police force are paired together, some sort of hilarity ensues. Whether it is due to slap stick humor, gross incompetence, or their personalities clash, these character traits applied to the police have almost become formulaic and stereotypical presentation. The pairing of Dogberry and Verges in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing gives an early presentation of this caricature.

Verges works with Dogberry as a constable for the city of Messina. In the performance of his duties, Verges comes across as comical and a bit incompetent. This is due to his misuse of words. These malapropisms, or using an incorrect word in place of the correct term, occur several times in the few lines that he has. He tells Dogberry that their recruits 'should suffer salvation, body or soul.' Rather than use the appropriate term, damnation, Verges uses salvation, which gives his statement the opposite meaning of what he intended.

Later, when Verges prepares to question Borachio and Conrade, he states that they 'have the exhibition to examine.' Since he is actually off to question two individuals regarding some statements they made, he likely means to examine their statements, or a commission. These errors display the level of incompetence on which the police force operates. Although Verges mentions that he is honest and 'an old man,' perhaps his errors are the result of his age. Further evidence in the play shows that Verges is not incompetent, but his work with Dogberry falls well short of expectations.

Subordinate

Some of Verges displays of incompetence may be the result of working with Dogberry. Dogberry seems to be the elder statesmen of the two and usually takes charge. Verges affirms their working relationship when he supports Dogberry's instructions to the watchmen. Verges tells Dogberry that 'you have always been call'd a merciful man, partner.' Verges gives an indication that he and Dogberry are partners, but he also indicates that they are not equal.

Verges plays to Dogberry's ego by reaffirming his positive attributes. Verges also endorses quite a few of Dogberry's statements, answering 'tis very true,' and 'I think it be so.' He also tells Dogberry 'to give them their charge.' This might seem as if Verges is giving an order to Dogberry. It is more likely a way to keep Dogberry on track, as he tends to wander in speech. He may also be reminding Dogberry that he needs to give out the assignments. This would be another instance where Verges defers to the command of Dogberry, and supports the thought that Verges is subordinate to Dogberry.

Competent Advice

Of the two constables in Much Ado About Nothing, Verges shows signs of being far more competent than he appears. He is more clear and informative in his instructions than Dogberry. He explains to a watchman that 'if (a person) will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of the Prince's subjects.' On another question about the duties of a watchman, Verges answers that 'if you have a child cry in the night, you must call to the nurse and bid her still it.' These answers are direct and to the point. His clarity comes to prominence before the governor.

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