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Quotes

Quote #1

DON PEDRO
You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your daughter.
LEONATO
Her mother hath many times told me so.
BENEDICK
Were you in doubt, sir, that you ask'd her? (1.1.103)

The first mention we have of a married couple (Leonato and his absent wife) is a joke about whether that wife may have deceived Leonato about the parentage of their child. Marriage is set up to be lampooned, but it seems that deception is expected as a natural part of marriage.

Quote #2

BENEDICK
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.
CLAUDIO
Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly how
thou lik'st her. (1.1.171)

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.

Quote #3

CLAUDIO
Can the world buy such a jewel?
BENEDICK
Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad
brow? or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a
good hare-finder and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in what key
shall a man take you to go in the song? (1.1.181)

Benedick, in turn, can’t believe that Claudio is really being honest either – he wonders whether Claudio can possibly love this girl – maybe because the young man noticed her just 10 minutes ago, maybe because Hero’s not attractive.

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