In Much Ado About Nothing Benedick performs a soliloquy; alone on stage he relates his thoughts and feelings to the audience without addressing other characters. Other plays by William Shakespeare feature soliloquies. In The Tragedy of Richard III many of Richard III’s lines are soliloquies; as well as the lines in Othello by Iago. Other famous soliloquies include, The “Tomorrow and tomorrow” speech by Macbeth, and “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” by Juliet. Benedick performs a soliloquy regarding the folly of love: “I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love.”(II.iii.8-11)
Benedick is afraid of appearing, in the eyes of others, foolish by dedicating his temperance to love, will, after having scoffed at such foolishness in others, he become the subject of his own mockery by falling in love. Benedick pretense is stoicism; he practices repression of emotion, indifference to pleasure or pain, in his love for Beatrice. Emotions to stoics “are diseases, were given to us by nature as goads to virtue” (Erasmus, Hyperaspistes, Liber secundus, in CWU 77:592-593). Benedick laughs in scorn at such follies by others. Their state of being foolish or deficient in understanding: wanting of good sense, weakness or derangement of mind.
Benedick admits “I have railed so long against marriage; but doth not the appetite alter?” (II.iii.209-210) He has gushed tears of blood so long against marriage; but does not bent of mind, desire, inclination and disposition change? He acknowledges, “A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age,” (II.iii.210-211) but questions, “Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?” (II.iii.211-213) Shall sharp, sarcastic, cutting sentences fashioned with a clever wit and paper balls of lead in the brain inspired by dread and fear, terrorize a man from the swift course of his liking? He decides “No, The world must be peopled.” (II.iii.213-214) His excuse “When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.” (II.iii.214-215) His choice “Here comes Beatrice. By this day, she’s a fair lady. I do spy some marks of love in her.” (II.iii.214-216)
Desiderius, Erasmus. The Praise of Folly. 1511.
Shakespeare, William. Much Ado About Nothing. 1600.
#1. Artist, Unknown. A troubadour (Perdigon) playing his fiddle, 12th Century.
#2. Porcairagues, Azalais de. 13th Century. Bibiotheque Nationale, MS Cod. fr. 12473.
#3. Ensenhamen personified as a king in 14th Century. Chansonnier Breviar d’amor of Matfre Ermengau.