Much Ado About Nothing Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line) Line numbers correspond to the Riverside edition.
I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church
by daylight. (2.1.80-81)
Beatrice responds modestly to her Uncle Leonato’s compliment that she’s an observant girl. Her reply suggests that she’s not uncommonly observant, and can only see what’s in clear view (like a church— often the tallest building in a town—in daylight). Still, this is a misguiding statement. Beatrice seems to be demurring out of modesty, but we know she actually doesn’t see everything. The most obvious example is how she doesn’t recognize her strong (positive) feelings for Benedick. Later, Beatrice also misses the fact that she’s being manipulated into loving Benedick.
Come, come, do you think I do not know you
by your excellent wit? Can virtue hide itself? Go to,
mum, you are he. (2.1.119-121)
This is a nice little piece of parallel commentary, as Ursula dances with Antonio before the scene turns over to Benedick and Beatrice at the masquerade ball. Even Ursula, who is not nearly as bright as Beatrice, can recognize the man she’s dancing with based on his wit, which she calls a virtue.
Beatrice, by contrast, can’t recognize Benedick’s wit when he dances with her. This is an example of Shakespeare’s split screen habit, where the dull characters can figure out what the smart characters cannot, often because the smart characters are too caught up in themselves to notice the obvious (or see the church by daylight, if you will).
How know you he loves her?
I heard him swear his affection.
So did I too, and he swore he would marry
Come, let us to the banquet. (2.1.165-169)
Claudio’s great failing is that he’s easily manipulated into suspicion, which leaves him wide open to be deceived.