Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing Respect and Reputation Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
CON Away! you are an ass, you are an ass. DOGBERRY Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an ass. Though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be prov'd upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow; and which is more, an officer; and which is more, a householder; and which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows the law, go to! and a rich fellow enough, go to! and a fellow that hath had losses; and one that hath two gowns and everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass! (4.2.73)
Dogberry lists all of the trappings he has that make him a gentleman, thinking he is actually securing his reputation. It’s an interesting insight into Dogberry’s insecurity, but it’s also echoed by a later conversation between Benedick and Beatrice (see 5.2.73). When Benedick says he’s wise, Beatrice points out he is unwise to say so. We wouldn’t have believed Dogberry was a gentleman under any circumstances (given his backwards speech), but we’re especially sure he isn’t a gentleman now that he’s insisted that he is one, because that’s not gentlemanly thing to say.
BORACHIO Yea, even I alone. LEONATO No, not so, villain! thou beliest thyself. Here stand a pair of honorable men-- A third is fled--that had a hand in it. I thank you princes for my daughter's death. Record it with your high and worthy deeds. 'Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it. (5.1.264)
Leonato cuts deep when he refers to Don Pedro and Claudio as "honorable men." The men are seemingly honorable, but you might also interpret Leonato’s line as ironic, especially as he says the men should add his innocent daughter’s murder to their list of praiseworthy deeds. Leonato suggests their honor is undercut by their haughty credulity, or willingness to believe others and be so cocky about it to boot.
BENEDICK Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably. BEATRICE It appears not in this confession. There's not one wise man among twenty, that will praise himself. BENEDICK An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that liv'd in the time of good neighbours. If a man do not erect in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than the bell rings and the widow weeps. (5.2.72)
Beatrice suggests that a man’s reputation should be conveyed and earned by his actions and not his words, and especially not by his own words. Benedick points out that reputation these days is nothing but what men say it is. Who do you agree with more, Beatrice or Benedick? Which is more true about reputation in this play?