Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Snarky, Dismissive, Compassionate
This is one of Shakespeare’s more interesting comedies when it comes to how Shakespeare approaches the characters. Certainly, not everyone is portrayed sympathetically. It seems deliberately difficult to relate to Claudio, who is as fascinating as a limp dishcloth, except when he’s being an awful jerk. We love Beatrice and Benedick the most when they’re sharpest with each other. All in all, these characters are most rich and complex when they’re portraying the darker side of life. This is not a play celebrating the gauzy happiness of love. Instead, Shakespeare flexes the muscle of being a bit dismissive about the more common, typical parts of people, as he makes them uninteresting when they’re most stable. Still, Shakespeare doesn’t let everything go to pot and dance on the ashes of the chaos (as he does in the tragedies). Ultimately he’s compassionate to the characters because they all succeed in the end – except the bad guy, and maybe Don Pedro who ends up single.