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Quotes

Quote #13

LEONATO
I cannot bid you bid my daughter live-
That were impossible; but I pray you both,
Possess the people in Messina here
How innocent she died; and if your love
Can labour aught in sad invention,
Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb,
And sing it to her bones--sing it to-night.
To-morrow morning come you to my house,
And since you could not be my son-in-law,
Be yet my nephew. My brother hath a daughter,
Almost the copy of my child that's dead,
And she alone is heir to both of us.
Give her the right you should have giv'n her cousin,
And so dies my revenge. (5.1.279)

This is preposterous. Leonato’s "punishment" for Claudio seems to be that Claudio gets a second chance at marrying into Leonato’s family. If Hero had really been dead, would this have been proposed as a solution? Does the play ever deal with Claudio getting off so easily? It seems like this punishment comments on marriage’s importance (that it could solve such a rift), but it also sheds some light on the role of women in marriages, especially as this "niece" is treated like an interchangeable part for the lost Hero.

Quote #14

BENEDICK
Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.
FRIAR
To do what, signior?
BENEDICK
To bind me, or undo me--one of them. (5.4.18)

Though he loves Beatrice, Benedick still jokes about marriage, saying he’s not sure that their marriage won’t be his "undoing." This hesitation helps to make Benedick seem a believable character – he isn’t suddenly transformed into believing in marriage simply because he realized he’s capable of love. Again, the disconnect between love and marriage is evident.

Quote #15

BENEDICK
Come, come, we are friends. Let's have a dance ere we are
married, that we may lighten our own hearts and our wives' heels.
LEONATO
We'll have dancing afterward.
BENEDICK
First, of my word! Therefore play, music. (5.4.117)

This is a silly little scene that’s a bit bawdy: note that "light-heeled" is another way to say a woman is morally loose. Benedick teases that he’d like to dance with the women before the wedding, and make them light-heeled. Hence Leonato’s terse "Get married first!" Benedick, perhaps to show that he’ll be mischievous even as a married man, insists on dancing first anyway. This is especially interesting given that Claudio has just teased that Benedick will have a wandering eye when married unless his wife keeps a close watch on him.

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