Shakespeare 102

Beatrice and Benedick have an on-going battle of words.

I had rather my dog bark at a cow than a man swear he loves me .

Beatrice (I.I.I33)

 I would my horse had the speed of your tongue 

Bendick (I.I.I42)

Beatrice is a difficult mix. Not only is she a pragmatist tempering honesty with humour and charm, but she’s also a worthy opponent for this verbal fencing with her beloved. Everyone knows that they love each other and that it’s only a matter of time before they too, figure that out. It’s because they harbour this badly concealed affection for each other that the plan to bring them at last, together – a plot of words –  works so well. 

The truth here is that saying what one doesn’t mean never helps. Likewise, it is unhelpful to refuse to say what one truly feels. In this play it takes the malicious plot to defame Beatrice’s friend and cousin, Hero, to knock Beatrice enough off balance so she’s able to see herself and her situation in a new light and take appropriate action.

It takes courage to let down one’s defences long enough to see reality. Likewise, to lower one’s unrealistic expectations of self and others is challenging.  It takes extraordinary courage to let go of pain suffered as the result of (perceived) past injustices. There is more than a hint Beatrice and Benedick may have enjoyed a prior romantic link that for some reason, turned sour.

Lesson: Although it’s easier remain stuck in the web of one’s deceptions, it’s not nearly as rewarding as stepping forward into one’s truth.

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