Romeo and Juliet

Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;Being vexed a sea nourish’d with loving tears:What is it else? a madness most discreet,A choking gall, and a preserving sweet. Romeo Soliloquy – (1.1.197-201) Show’s how romantic and poetic he is. Perhaps overdramatic since he is young and innocent
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!It seems she hangs upon the cheek of nightLike a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear—Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.So shows a snowy dove trooping with crowsAs yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.The measure done, I’ll watch her place of standAnd, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight,For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night. Romeo- (1.5.51-60). First time he sees Juliet. He forgets all about Rosaline.
(1)If I profane with my unworthiest handThis holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready standTo smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.(2)Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,Which mannerly devotion shows in this;For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.(1)Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?(2)Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.(1)O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do.They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.(2)Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.(1)Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take. He kisses her.Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged.(2)Then have my lips the sin that they have took.(1)Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!Give me my sin again. He kisses her.(2)You kiss by th’ book. Romeo and Juliet (1=Romeo, 2-Juliet) (1.5.104-122).
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,Who is already sick and pale with griefThat thou her maid art far more fair than she.Be not her maid, since she is envious.Her vestal livery is but sick and greenAnd none but fools do wear it. Cast it off. Romeo Soliquey about Juliet- a lot of sky imagery. (2.2.2-9)
(1)How camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,And the place death, considering who thou art,If any of my kinsmen find thee here.(2)With love’s light wings did I o’er-perch these walls;For stony limits cannot hold love out,And what love can do that dares love attempt.Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me.(1)If they do see thee, they will murder thee.(2)Alack, there lies more peril in thine eyeThan twenty of their swords: look thou but sweet,And I am proof against their enmity.(1)I would not for the world they saw thee here.(2)I have night’s cloak to hide me from their eyes.And, but thou love me, let them find me here.My life were better ended by their hateThan death prorogued, wanting of thy love.(1)By whose direction found’st thou out this place?(2)By love, who first did prompt me to inquire.He lent me counsel and I lent him eyes.I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as farAs that vast shore wash’d with the farthest sea,I would adventure for such merchandise. Balcony scene. (1=Juliet, 2=Romeo)Romeo is eager to prove to Juliet that he loves her, while Juliet – despite the confession that Romeo overhears – is hesitant to reveal that she likes him right away.
Well, do not swear. Although I joy in thee,I have no joy of this contract tonight.It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,Too like the lightning, which doth cease to beEre one can say ‘It lightens.’ Sweet, good night.This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath,May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.Good night, good night. As sweet repose and restCome to thy heart as that within my breast. Juliet to Romeo in the balcony scene (2.2.123-131). Shows that Juliet is the more rational one and knows not to get head over heels.
(1)Ah, (2), if the measure of thy joyBe heaped like mine, and that thy skill be moreTo blazon it, then sweeten with thy breathThis neighbor air, and let rich music’s tongueUnfold the imagined happiness that bothReceive in either by this dear encounter.(2)Conceit, more rich in matter than in words,Brags of his substance, not of ornament.They are but beggars that can count their worth,But my true love is grown to such excessI cannot sum up sum of half my wealth. Romeo asks Juliet to use language to express the love that they feel for each other, but Juliet tells him that’s the wrong approach. The love they share has grown so great that they can no longer express it. (A similar idea occurs in King Lear, when Cordelia refuses to quantify her love for her father and says that language is not capable of expressing her devotion.)
How oft when men are at the point of deathHave they been merry, which their keepers callA light’ning before death! O, how may ICall this a light’ning?—O my love! my wife,Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath,Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty.Thou art not conquered. Beauty’s ensign yetIs crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,And death’s pale flag is not advancèd there.— Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet?O, what more favor can I do to thee,Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twainTo sunder his that was thine enemy?Forgive me, cousin—Ah, dear Juliet,Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believeThat unsubstantial death is amorous,And that the lean abhorred monster keepsThee here in dark to be his paramour?For fear of that, I still will stay with theeAnd never from this palace of dim nightDepart again. Here, here will I remainWith worms that are thy chamber-maids. O, hereWill I set up my everlasting rest,And shake the yoke of inauspicious starsFrom this world-wearied flesh! Eyes, look your last.Arms, take your last embrace. And, lips, O, youThe doors of breath, seal with a righteous kissA dateless bargain to engrossing death. Kissing JulietCome, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide!Thou desperate pilot, now at once run onThe dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark!Here’s to my love! Drinking. O true apothecary,Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die. Death becomes an act of love for Romeo, because he thinks that suicide will enable him to be with Juliet (he thinks she’s dead). 5.3
My only love sprung from my only hate!Too early seen unknown, and known too late!Prodigious birth of love it is to meThat I must love a loathèd enemy. Juliet 1.5. Talking about her love for Romeo.
Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,Towards Phoebus’ lodging. Such a wagonerAs Phaëthon would whip you to the westAnd bring in cloudy night immediately.Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,That runaway’s eyes may wink, and RomeoLeap to these arms, untalked of and unseen.Lovers can see to do their amorous ritesBy their own beauties, or, if love be blind,It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,And learn me how to lose a winning matchPlayed for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.Hood my unmann’d blood, bating in my cheeks,With thy black mantle till strange love grown bold,Think true love acted simple modesty.Come, night. Come, Romeo. Come, thou day in night.For thou wilt lie upon the wings of nightWhiter than new snow on a raven’s back.Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night,Give me my Romeo, and when he shall die,Take him and cut him out in little stars,And he will make the face of heaven so fineThat all the world will be in love with nightAnd pay no worship to the garish sun.O, I have bought the mansion of a loveBut not possessed it, and, though I am sold,Not yet enjoyed. So tedious is this dayAs is the night before some festivalTo an impatient child that hath new robesAnd may not wear them. Juliet talking about losing her virginity. (3.2.1-33). Juliet is both excited and nervous about losing her virginity. She feels that her love for Romeo is so strong that it could overpower the sun.Juliet is both excited and nervous about losing her virginity. She feels that her love for Romeo is so strong that it could overpower the sun.Sexual language
(1)Well, girl, thou weep’st not so much for his deathAs that the villain lives which slaughtered him.(2)What villain, madam?(1)That same villain, Romeo.(2), aside Villain and he be many miles asunder.— God Pardon him. I do, with all my heart,And yet no man like he doth grieve my heart.(1)That is because the traitor murderer lives.(2)Ay, madam, from the reach of these my hands.Would none but I might venge my cousin’s death!(1)We will have vengeance for it, fear thou not.Then weep no more. I’ll send to one in Mantua,Where that same banished runagate doth live,Shall give him such an unaccustomed dramThat he shall soon keep Tybalt company.And then, I hope, thou wilt be satisfied.(2)Indeed, I never shall be satisfiedWith Romeo, till I behold him—dead— Is my poor heart for a kinsman vexed.Madam, if you could find out but a manTo bear a poison, I would temper it,That Romeo should, upon receipt thereof,Soon sleep in quiet. O, how my heart abhorsTo hear him named and cannot come to himTo wreak the love I bore my cousinUpon his body that slaughtered him. (5.2)(1)- Lady Capulet(2)- Juliet Juliet cannot tell her mother about her true feelings for Romeo, so she expresses her feelings in veiled language that makes her mother believe she hates him.
Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? Now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo, now art thou what thou art, by art as well as by nature. For this driveling love is like a great natural, that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole. Mercutio (2.4.90-95), talking about how irrational love is.
(1)’Tis true, and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall. (1)The quarrel is between our masters and us their men.(2)’Tis all one. I will show myself a tyrant.When I have fought with the men, I will be civil with the maids; and cut off their heads. (1)The heads of the maids?(1)Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads.Take it in what sense thou wilt.(1.1.16-27) Samson and Gregory in 1.1. Equates sex and violence.
Romeo! Humors! Madman! Passion! Lover!Appear thou in the likeness of a sigh.Speak but one rhyme, and I am satisfied.Cry but ‘Ay me,’ pronounce but ‘love’ and ‘dove.’Speak to my gossip Venus one fair word,One nickname for her purblind son and heir,Young Adam Cupid, he that shot so trimWhen King Cophetua loved the beggar maid.— He heareth not, he stirreth not, he moveth not.The ape is dead, and I must conjure him.— I conjure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes,By her high forehead, and her scarlet lip,By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh,And the demesnes that there adjacent lie,That in thy likeness thou appear to us. (2.1.9-24) Mercutio talking about how dumb love is.
(1)But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, haveyou?(2)I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife. Benedict (1), Claudio (2). Talking about marriage
The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull’s horns and set them in my forehead, and let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as they write “Here is good horse to hire,” let them signify under my sign “Here you may see Benedick the married man.” Benedict talking about marriage. (1.1.257-262). Benedick equates marriage with being whipped, tamed, and cuckolded. Marrying would mean sacrificing his independence and breaking his pride, and Benedick finds the prospect of losing either foolish. It’s a strong enough intuition to sour him on marriage altogether.
(1)Just, if He send me no husband, for the which blessing I am at Him upon my knees every morning and evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face. I had rather lie in the woolen! (2)You may light on a husband that hath no beard.(1)What should I do with him? Dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him. (2.1.27-39). Beatrice denounces marriage in general, but you’ll note that she goes on to point out the particular flaws of particular men. We’re left to guess whether she is against the institution of marriage in principle, or whether she’s simply convinced she’ll never find the right man. (Or is her man-bashing a consolation prize because she hasn’t found anyone yet?) Lots of possibilities, but the point is, she’s not stoked about marriage.
I cannot bid you bid my daughter live— That were impossible—but I pray you both,Possess the people in Messina hereHow innocent she died. And if your loveCan labour aught in sad invention,Hang her an epitaph upon her tombAnd sing it to her bones. Sing it tonight.Tomorrow morning come you to my house,And since you could not be my son-in-law,Be yet my nephew. My brother hath a daughter,Almost the copy of my child that’s dead,And she alone is heir to both of us.Give her the right you should have giv’n her cousin,And so dies my revenge. Leonato talking to Claudio. (5.1.292-305)This is preposterous. Leonato’s “punishment” for Claudio seems to be that Claudio gets a second chance at marrying into Leonato’s family. If Hero had really been dead, would this have been proposed as a solution? Does the play ever deal with Claudio getting off so easily? It seems like this punishment comments on marriage’s importance (that it could solve such a rift), but it also sheds some light on the role of women in marriages, especially as this “niece” is treated like an interchangeable part for the lost Hero.
(1)Why, i’ faith, methinks she’s too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise. Only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other than she is, she were unhandsome, and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.(2)Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly how thou lik’st her. Claudio can’t accept that Benedick has nothing more to say about Hero than that she’s short, dark, and too small. He thinks Benedick is lying about his honest feelings, which supports the notion that Benedick doesn’t often say what he thinks. Benedick prefers to deceive humorously over speaking truthfully.
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. 1.1.234-242)Benedick says his main obstacle to love is that he’ll never do a lady the disfavor of mistrusting her. At the same time, he’s certain he can’t bring himself to trust a lady, so it looks like he’ll be ladyless. It’s not that he thinks love itself is awful (maybe), but that he finds deception to be inherent to women (and love).
Tis once, thou lovest,And I will fit thee with the remedy.I know we shall have reveling tonight.I will assume thy part in some disguiseAnd tell fair Hero I am Claudio,And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heartAnd take her hearing prisoner with the forceAnd strong encounter of my amorous tale. (1.1.313 Don Pedro will manipulate Hero into falling in love with Claudio. It’s a little shady that Don Pedro will get Hero to fall in love with his words, thinking they’re Claudio’s words. Claudio and Don Pedro don’t care if they manipulate the girl under false pretenses, as they’ve got their eyes on the prize of winning her (even if she is deceived into being won by a guy she doesn’t know and has never spoken to).
I wonder that thou, being, as thou say’st thou art, born under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral medicine to a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I am. I must be sad when I have cause, and smile at no man’s jests; eat when I have stomach, and wait for no man’s leisure; sleep when I am drowsy, and tend on no man’s business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no man in his humor (1.3.10-17)This is a particular bit of irony—Don John says he’s not really capable of deception. He can’t hide what he’s feeling, or what a villain he is. You’d think this was crazy, because Don John does so much deceiving in the play. Come to think of it, he never actually made a great show of being a good or warm guy to begin with. He skulks around the castle, and while he tells direct lies to others in the service of evil, no one could ever say that he tried to pretend to be someone he’s not. In that case, who’s more at fault, Don John for being a trickster, or Don Pedro and Claudio for trusting him? Deception is a complex thing.
I will teach you how to humor your cousin, that she shall fall in love with Benedick.— and I, with your two helps, will so practice onBenedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this, Cupid is no longer an archer; his glory shall be ours, for we are the only love gods. Go in with me, and I will tell you my drift. Don Pedro and Claudio engage in some deception, but rather than tricking him into loving Beatrice, most likely they intend to manipulate Benedick into coming to a conclusion on his own. They can lie, but they can’t assume their lies will persuade: only what’s latent in Benedick can bring him to love Beatrice. Their deception is just helping that process along.
Our talk must only be of Benedick.When I do name him, let it be thy partTo praise him more than ever man did merit.My talk to thee must be how BenedickIs sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matterIs little Cupid’s crafty arrow made,That only wounds by hearsay. (3.1.18-24)When Hero employs the same process as Don Pedro and Claudio, she frames what’s really going on. They’re definitely deceiving Beatrice about Benedick’s supposed condition, but they’re arguably only guilty of planting hearsay (rumor). They only mean to let suspicion and hearsay lead Beatrice to the conclusion that she probably would’ve come to anyway. Maybe.
The word is too good to paint out her wickedness. I could say she were worse. Think you of a worse title, and I will fit her to it. Wonder not till further warrant. Go but with me tonight, you shall see her chamber window entered, even the night before her wedding day. If you love her then, to-morrow wed her. But it would better fit your honor to change your mind. Don John to Claudio. Again, Don John uses manipulation to plant the seeds of suspicion. He doesn’t give any details about Hero’s disloyalty; but instead, he just says he’ll prove it to them later, and gives them the whole afternoon to imagine the girl’s transgressions. What’s true is often not as bad as what we can imagine is true, especially if we’re lured in by suspicion.
(1)Do not you love me? (2)Why no, no more than reason.(1)Why then, your uncle and the Prince and ClaudioHave been deceived. They swore you did. (2)Do not you love me?(1)Troth, no, no more than reason. (2)Why then, my cousin, Margaret, and UrsulaAre much deceived, for they did swear you did.(1)They swore that you were almost sick for me. (2)They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me. (1) Benedict (2) Beatrice. (5.4.76-85)Benedick and Beatrice quip that everyone around them is very deceived about their love for each other, but they’re only fooling themselves. (Ooooh!)
(1)I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer, but keep your way, i’ God’s name, I have done.(2)You always end with a jade’s trick. I know you of old. (1) – Benedict, (2)- Beatrice. Benedick drops out of the argument because he can’t keep up with Beatrice. The two characters use their language as weapons, but never seem to be able to end or resolve their fights.
She told me, not thinking I had been myself, that I was the Prince’s jester, that I was duller than a great thaw, huddling jest upon jest with such impossible conveyance upon me that I stood like a man at a mark with a whole army shooting at me. She speaks poniards, and every word stabs. If her breath were as terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her; she would infect to the North Star. BENEDICK(2.1.239-247)Benedick is undone by Beatrice’s quick tongue before he’s undone by his love for her. (Or maybe it’s her quick tongue that makes him love her.)
As strange as the thing I know not. It were as possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you,But believe me not, and yet I lie not, I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin. Beatrice has just heard Benedick bare his soul. Rather than pouring her heart out to him in return, she stumbles over her words, finally just declaring that she’s worried for Hero. This uneasiness is weird for Beatrice—she usually has a perfect quick and cutting reply for everything. It’s not clear whether she’s unsure of her feelings for Benedick, or is afraid to admit she loves Benedick… or maybe is just really caught up with her cousin’s life being ruined.
The god of love That sits above,And knows me, and knows me, How pitiful I deserve— I mean in singing. But in loving Leander the good swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and a whole book full of these quondam carpetmongers, whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I cannot show it in rhyme. I have tried. I can find out no rhyme to ‘lady’ but ‘baby’—an innocent rhyme; for ‘scorn,’ ‘horn’—a hard rhyme; for ‘school’, ‘fool’—a babbling rhyme: very ominous endings. No, I was not born under a rhyming planet, nor cannot woo in festival terms. (5.2.26-41)Benedick is poetic in his thinking and speech, but he fails in writing. His references are rich, and all he uses wit to refer to the twisted version of love as presented by epic poetry: Leander was the lover of the mythological Hero (probably the namesake of Leonato’s daughter). Leander died by drowning as he was on his way to see his love, swimming across a river to find her. The story is a twisted version of love, and Benedick warps it further by joking that Leander was a good swimmer.
(1)Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none.(2)A dear happiness to women! They would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humor for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crowthan a man swear he loves me. (1)- Benedict, (2)- Beatrice.Note that both Beatrice and Benedick say they’ll never love anyone. This little spar is likely saying “of course we’ll never love each other.” Invulnerability to falling in love is a point of pride for them both.
‘Tis certain so. The Prince woos for himself.Friendship is constant in all other thingsSave in the office and affairs of love.Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues.Let every eye negotiate for itselfAnd trust no agent, for beauty is a witchAgainst whose charms faith melteth into blood. (2.1.172-178)Claudio thinks all bets are off when it comes to love; that romantic love can supersede or intrude upon friendship. As a result, he’s convinced that Don Pedro is wooing Hero for himself.
O god of love! I know he doth deserveAs much as may be yielded to a man,But Nature never framed a woman’s heartOf prouder stuff than that of Beatrice.Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,Misprizing what they look on, and her witValues itself so highly that to herAll matter else seems weak. She cannot love,Nor take no shape nor project of affection,She is so self-endeared. Hero talking about Beatrice. We learn more about Hero’s notions of love from her conversation about Beatrice and Benedick than from her own thoughts about her marriage to Claudio. Hero seems to realize that in order to love another, one must sacrifice some self-love. She’s rationalized that love is not about self-indulgence, but self-sacrifice… which explains some of her willingness to love Claudio even after he’s wronged her.
(1)With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest I love thee.(2)Why then, God forgive me!(1)What offence, sweet Beatrice?BEATRICEYou have stayed me in a happy hour. I was about to protest I loved you.(1)And do it with all thy heart.(2)I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.(1)Come, bid me do anything for thee.(2)Kill Claudio. (1) Benedict, (2)- Beatrice. This interaction tells us about what love means to Beatrice and Benedick. Beatrice is finally being open about loving Benedick, and she loves him completely. Benedick does too, and he invites her to ask anything of him. Without hesitation, Beatrice quickly announces her request—for Benedick to kill Claudio. 4.1.293-303)
Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment? Or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex? Benedick admits that he has a thing against the entire female gender and tends to go on anti-women tirades. However, he notes that he’s capable of “simple, true judgment” of particular women, which isn’t necessarily touched by his general woman-hating spiel. It’s interesting that he has two different lenses through which he can view women, while probably only one through which he views men.(1.1.162-165)
(1)Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.(2)Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a piece of valiant dust? To make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?No, uncle, I’ll none. Adam’s sons are my brethren, and truly I hold it a sin to match in my kinred. Leonato (1) to Beatrice (2).This is a brilliant statement from a gendered point of view. Beatrice first uses “man” in the general sense (as in mankind), but she finally comes around to admitting the gender inequality inherent in marriage. She plays on the notion that all mankind is ashes to ashes dust to dust, so it isn’t fitting that a woman should be ruled by a man (who is in the end only dust). The capstone to this deliciously incisive commentary is Beatrice’s assertion that all of Adam’s sons are her brothers, and she’d commit the sin of incest to marry them.
One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s certain; wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen her; fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what color it please God. Ha, the Prince and Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbor. Benedick lists off the qualities of an ideal woman; he says he can’t be tempted to love any woman unless she has all of womankind’s best qualities wrapped up into one. The woman Benedick dreams of is an idealized (and unrealistic) version of women. He must think pretty highly of himself to believe he deserves such a woman. Also, it’s interesting here that he doesn’t seem to be against the idea of marrying, so long as he’d by wedding a perfect girl.
Princes and counties! Surely a princely testimony, a goodly count, Count Comfect, a sweet gallant, surely! O, that I were a man for his sake! Or that I had any friend would be a man for my sake! But manhood is melted into curtsies, valor into compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones, too. He is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a man with wishing; therefore I will die a woman withgrieving. (4.1.329-338)With Benedick as her only audience, Beatrice berates all men for being complete wimps. If Benedick didn’t get the picture before, he does now: Beatrice needs a manly man. Beatrice rails against what manliness has come to in these days of courtly pomp, and it’s not a flattering picture. It’s interesting that Benedick has spent all this time up to now indulging in similar rantings against all the courtly niceties of love (using Claudio as a prime example).
What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?Stand I condemned for pride and scorn so much?Contempt, farewell, and maiden pride, adieu!No glory lives behind the back of such.And Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand. (3.1.113-118)Beatrice is willing to love Benedick, but it seems that the main force behind the decision is to clear her own reputation.
Sweet Prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.— There, Leonato, take her back again.Give not this rotten orange to your friend.She’s but the sign and semblance of her honor.Behold how like a maid she blushes here!O, what authority and show of truthCan cunning sin cover itself withal!Comes not that blood as modest evidenceTo witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,All you that see her, that she were a maid,By these exterior shows? But she is none.She knows the heat of a luxurious bed.Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty. (4.1.30-42)Claudio is hung up on how Hero appears – he thinks her image as a virtuous girl is false, masking her true nature. Reputation is linked with appearances – Hero blushes like a virgin, but Claudio thinks she isn’t one. Her reputation as a maiden rests on how she appears; in insisting that how Hero seems is not how she is, Claudio effectively undoes her reputation.
(1)No, Leonato,I never tempted her with word too large,But, as a brother to his sister, showedBashful sincerity and comely love.(2)And seemed I ever otherwise to you?(1)Out on the, seeming! I will write against it.You seem to me as Dian in her orb,As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown.But you are more intemperate in your bloodThan Venus, or those pampered animalsThat rage in savage sensuality.(2)Is my lord well that he doth speak so wide? It’s interesting here that Hero, instead of simply stating that she is completely innocent, asks Claudio how she “seemed” to him. However, Claudio’s entire point is that she seemed innocent, and was not. Unlike Claudio, Hero implies that her reputation should be based on her actions, rather than on accusations and other peoples’ opinions.
She, dying, as it must be so maintained,Upon the instant that she was accused,Shall be lamented, pitied, and excusedOf every hearer. For it so falls outThat what we have we prize not to the worthWhiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,Why then we rack the value, then we findThe virtue that possession would not show usWhiles it was ours. (4.1.225-233)The Friar thinks Hero’s reputation will be restored once people think she’s dead. She’ll become the object of lamentation, and people will repent ever having thought bad things about her. It’s the “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” idea. This continues to emphasize the point that reputation is not based on deeds; the Friar thinks that Hero’s reputation will improve simply by manipulating the emotions of the public.
They say the lady is fair. ‘Tis a truth, I can bear them witness. And virtuous—’tis so, I cannot reprove it. And wise, but for loving me. By my troth, it is no addition to her wit—nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her. (II.iii.204-208)Benedick has just overheard Claudio, Leonato, and Don Pedro discussing Beatrice’s fabricated love for him. Alone on the stage, he ponders this news and concludes that the best thing for him to do is to return this love: “for I will be horribly in love with her” (II.iii.208). This line produces a comical effect, as it seems preposterous that someone would fall “horribly” in love with another person after simply weighing that person’s virtues. The choice of the word “horribly” accentuates the comic aspects of Benedick’s decision. Not only does he return her love, but he does so to the point of overthrowing her, and all others in his midst, with love.
O Hero! What a Hero hadst thou beenIf half thy outward graces had been placedAbout thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!But fare thee well, most foul, most fair, farewellThou pure impiety and impious purity.For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love,And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,And never shall it more be gracious. Claudio has just openly rebuked Hero at their wedding ceremony, throwing her back to Leonato, her father. He believes that she has not only been unfaithful to him but has lost her virginity, and therefore her purity and innocence, to someone else before her marriage. Claudio’s belief is the result of Don John’s evil plot to deceive him and make him lose Don Pedro’s goodwill.
Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! But masters, remember that I am an ass. Though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow, and which is more, an officer, and which is more, a householder, and which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows the law, go to . . . and one that hath two gowns, and everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass! Dogberry is the constable and leader of the town night watch in Messina, the town where the action of the play takes place. Despite his comedic substitutions of incorrect words for similar-sounding correct words, Dogberry does succeed in apprehending Conrad and Borachio and unraveling Don John’s plot to deceive Claudio and ruin Hero. At this moment, he has caught Borachio and brought him before the sexton to record the events of the evening.

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