Much Ado About Nothing
How we cite our quotes:
Wherefore? Why, doth not every earthly thing
Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
The story that is printed in her blood?
Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes;
For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,
Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
Myself would on the rearward of reproaches
Strike at thy life. Griev'd I, I had but one?
Child I for that at frugal nature's frame?
O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
Why had I not with charitable hand
Took up a beggar's issue at my gates,
Who smirched thus and mir'd with infamy,
I might have said, 'No part of it is mine;
This shame derives itself from unknown loins'?
But mine, and mine I lov'd, and mine I prais'd,
And mine that I was proud on--mine so much
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her--why, she, O, she is fall'n
Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again,
And salt too little which may season give
To her foul tainted flesh! (4.1.119)
Leonato does not grieve for the apparent death of his only child; rather, he rejoices over it as the best way to hide her shame (and therefore his shame). This leads him to reveal that his wounded pride is what he’s really worried about. He wishes she was not his flesh and blood, but some adopted child, so he could say, "No part of this scandal is mine," and renounce the girl without any grief. It’s clear from Leonato’s words that he is more concerned about his own hurt pride than Hero’s dishonor.
I know not how to pray your patience;
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself;
Impose me to what penance your invention
Can lay upon my sin. Yet sinn'd I not
But in mistaking. (5.1.271)
Claudio is really outrageous here – he’s just found out he wrongfully accused Hero and he thinks he caused her death. Instead of just hanging his head in shame and being sorry, he feels the need to point out that he was misled, so none of this was really his fault. It seems Claudio is more concerned with protecting his pride than mourning over his part in Hero’s death. Even that he’s willing to submit himself to punishment seems more about the appropriate formalities of dealing with his wrong than any actual regret or repentance he has.
By my soul, nor I!
And yet, to satisfy this good old man,
I would bend under any heavy weight
That he'll enjoin me to. (5.1.275)
Like Claudio, Don Pedro says he’ll willingly undergo punishment. He claims this is not because he’s actually done an awful thing, but because he wishes to "satisfy" Leonato. Don Pedro and Claudio both are too glib in saying essentially, "I’m sorry, but it wasn’t my fault, and aren’t I a good guy for being willing to get a slap on the wrist for it anyway?" This is some egregious insensitivity, but a healthy dose of pride too – the men are concerned with trying to weakly defend their own reputations.