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Quotes

Quote #10

LEONATO
There's little of the melancholy element in her, my lord. She
is never sad but when she sleeps, and not ever sad then; for I
have heard my daughter say she hath often dreamt of unhappiness and wak'd herself with laughing. (2.1.342)

Here, Beatrice might be practicing self-deception. She knows there’s a lot to be miserable about in the world, but it’s easier to laugh than to cry at things you have no control over. This sleeping self-deception casts some light on Beatrice’s ability to be happy in the waking world, even though she might reasonably be sad that she’s so alone.

Quote #11

DON PEDRO
I will teach you how to humour
your cousin, that she shall fall in love with Benedick; and I,
[to Leonato and Claudio] with your two helps, will so practise on
Benedick 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. (2.1.380)

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.

Quote #12

HERO
Our talk must only be of Benedick.
When I do name him, let it be thy part
To praise him more than ever man did merit.
My talk to thee must be how Benedick
Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter
Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by hearsay. (3.1.17)

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.

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