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Quotes

Quote #13

BENEDICK
With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest I love thee.
BEATRICE
Why then, God forgive me!
BENEDICK
What offence, sweet Beatrice?
BEATRICE
You have stayed me in a happy hour. I was about to protest I
loved you.
BENEDICK
And do it with all thy heart.
BEATRICE
I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to
protest.
BENEDICK
Come, bid me do anything for thee.
BEATRICE
Kill Claudio. (4.1.279)

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. This request may come out of convenience (Benedick is there, and he’s a man). On the other hand, it’s quite possible that she means to test Benedick’s love by finding out which his more important: his loyalty to his friends or his love for her. She needs proof of his commitment to her. Also, remember how Beatrice alluded to the fact that she had Benedick’s heart once, and he took hers unfairly. It’s reasonable that she might need more assurance this second time around, even if it means Claudio’s head.

Quote #14

BENEDICK
Ha! not for the wide world!
BEATRICE
You kill me to deny it. Farewell.
BENEDICK
Tarry, sweet Beatrice.
BEATRICE
I am gone, though I am here. There is no love in you. Nay, I
pray you let me go.
BENEDICK
Beatrice--
BEATRICE
In faith, I will go.
BENEDICK
We'll be friends first. (4.1.290)

What does it mean for Beatrice to be so willing to walk away from Benedick? If she’s willing to give up her love for him so quickly, is her love actually serious? Perhaps her devotion to her cousin is more important to Beatrice, and she’s willing to sacrifice loving Benedick for it. Or maybe Beatrice is just testing Benedick’s loyalty by bluffing – that’s quite a risk to take. Whatever the reasons behind this weird exchange, these two are not conventional lovers, as the last four minutes have basically been: "My cousin is practically dead!" "That sucks! I love you!" "I love you too!" "Will you kill your best friend?" "Yeah right!" "Screw you, bye!" This doesn’t qualify as the best first date ever.

Quote #15

CLAUDIO
Sweet Hero, now thy image doth appear
In the rare semblance that I lov'd it first. (5.1.251)

Claudio declares his love for Hero again as soon as he hears of her innocence. His sudden renewed love of Hero makes us feel as though his love is not actually as deep as we’d want it to be; his love was destroyed by outside circumstance and is resolved by outside circumstance too. We wonder whether Claudio will be able to weather other miscommunications when the pair is married – or will he be as quick to judge as he is currently, even if he’s wrong?

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