2.2 MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

One of the first elements which fascinated me when I saw Much Ado About Nothing was the song which is heard and seen at the beginning of this play, written by William Shakespeare in 2.3 of his Quarto’s edition, it looked great on this paper :
Sigh No More, Ladies
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no mo
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
I think it is clear this poem is intended for women because it launches a fierce attack on men at the same time it states,  by the verb  ‘sigh’, women worry about men and they suffer constantly for them. ‘One foot in sea, and one on shore’ represents how lacking in perseverance and changeable men are. So Shakespeare encourages women to forget men and to be sturdy: ‘But let them go, and be you blithe and bonny’. Here there is the first feminist approach of this play.
Kenneth Branagh put these words in Beatrice’s mouth not randomly. She will be the heroine in this play and I am going to analyze some of her speeches and actions.
At the beginning she looks like an independent and self-confidence woman by her questions about Don Pedro’s arrival from a war in which they have been victorious. Apparently harmony reigns but Beatrice’s words show resentment and how witty she is:
‘He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged Cupid at the flight; and my uncle’s fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt’I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? for indeed I promised to eat all of his …And a good soldier to a lady: but what is he to a lord?…It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man:but for the stuffing,–well, we are all mortal.’
Later, Beatrice explains why she wants to remain an unmarried woman. She has not discovered the perfect man and she does not want be controlled or submissive; a very progressive vision for the Elizabethan’s time:
‘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.’: 
In the following scene, Benedick says that he will do anything for Beatrice and Beatrice surprises everybody by saying: ‘KILL CLAUDIO!’. There is a strong reason to demand it, Claudio’s slander of her cousin. At the beginning, Benedick refuses but then he accepts it because Beatrice in a word has said to him coward:
‘KILL CLAUDIO… O that I were a man for his sake! Or that I had any friend would be a man for my sake!…I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving’:
Beatrice is defended by her wit only up to a point, when the time comes for love. At the end of the play Beatrice will forget about ‘men were deceivers ever’, ‘be you bonny’, etc. and she will come back to the female’s prototype being married. Benedick silences Beatrice by kissing her:
Another fact I would like to highlight in this play because I consider that even nowadays it is so present is about sexual relationships and how women are treated in a different way to men. In this play Hero is accused of being promiscuous and therefore said to be dead. But I wonder…what about the man which Hero is supposed to be promiscuous with? Is he not said to be dead? Why? Throughout history women always have been treated as whores (The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850 is an example of it) but men look like triumphant, tough, brave.


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