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The Character Development Of Benedick English Literature Essay

This extract is important to the construction of the play as it explicitly identifies the character development of Benedick. Through the extract, Shakespeare gives the audience an insight into the emotions, values and beliefs of Benedick and how they progress and change. Additionally, the scene serves as a catalyst for the turning point of events in the play as from here on a new relationship between Benedick and Beatrice begins to form. The playwright uses the themes of love, marriage and deception, the structure of the extract, and the literary techniques incorporated within the language utilised to develop Benedick's character.

Shakespeare presents the themes of love, marriage and deception in this extract to highlight Benedicks sudden change of beliefs and values. These themes mentioned also help to create the basis of the tension and expansion of the plot through Benedick's internal conflicts about love. Prior to this scene, the audience is positioned to view Benedick as a man who strongly opposes love and marriage. However, in this extract Benedick states, 'When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married'. From this quote, Benedick is shown to be contradicting his earlier statements and opinions simply due to the fact that he believes Beatrice loves him. He justifies his previous opinion of marriage by stating 'I never did think to marry'. This statement reveals Benedick's inner thoughts and the initial changes to his view on marriage. Furthermore, the playwright uses love and marriage to illustrate Benedick's character in this extract as being contradicting, shallow and unstable. This is based on his decision to be 'horribly in love with' Beatrice, despite never having been on good terms her. As a result of Benedicks shift of heart, the audience is led to regard love as being a trivial, light matter that is interchangeable and fickle. In a similar way, the theme of deception is used by the other characters to position Benedick to love Beatrice. By deceiving Benedick into believing that Beatrice loves him, Shakespeare allows the construction of Benedick's love and new ideologies.

The structure of this extract with the use of a soliloquy further develops Benedicks character by providing the audience with an extensive insight into his feelings and thoughts. The soliloquy is made the highlight of the extract as the scene only begins and ends with only a few lines from the other characters of the play. The use of a soliloquy in this section is imperative as it reveals the thought processes and true feelings of Benedick first hand instead of through another character. At the beginning Benedick is surprised by the fact that Beatrice loves him saying, 'Love me! Why it must be requited.’ The tone in which he speaks this line is of disbelief as he finds it difficult to believe that Beatrice of all people would ever love him. Towards the end of the soliloquy however, he finishes by saying, 'she's a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in her'. This quote explains that Benedick believes he has noticed that Beatrice has feelings for him. By this quote, it is evident that Benedick has been able to convince himself of this false statement. The progression of Benedicks thoughts logically flows through the use of the soliloquy, clearly indicating the development of Benedicks thoughts and emotions. Finally, at the end of the extract the fruit of Benedick's internal conflicts during the soliloquy are made explicit with the line, 'fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.' For once, Benedick is seen thanking Beatrice for the trouble, and also calls her by the name 'fair Beatrice'. This quote displays the characterisation of Benedick from the man who always quarrelled to a kind and flattering person.

Throughout the extract, the literary techniques of metaphors, oxymoron, hyperboles, foreshadowing and rhetorical questions have been utilised within the language to aid in the characterisation of Benedick. Oxymoron is used several times through the section, firstly in the line, ‘for I will be horribly in love with her'. Here, Benedick is saying that he will become crazily in love with Beatrice soon. The words 'horribly' and 'love' are contradicting words in that one is negotiated with negative connotations and the other with positive ones. This produces a comical affect on Benedicks decision, as it would seem ridiculous that a person would be able to fall in love with someone, especially after being strongly against the very notion. Furthermore, the oxymoron, 'paper bullets' uses paper to symbolise something soft and clean in contrast with hard metal bullets exemplify the contrasting of Benedick's values. The full quote states, 'shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?’ This line tells of Benedick's explanation that all of Beatrice's harsh words against him have no affect anymore and are but 'paper bullets'. The comparison between Beatrice's use of language and the words 'paper bullets' also serves as a metaphor to emphasise alterations as a character, as his words uncharacteristically do justice to Beatrice. Additionally, the playwright incorporates the literary technique of rhetorical questioning, seen through the line, 'I have railed so long against marriage: but doth not the appetite alter?' At this point of the extract, Benedick justifies his reasoning for his change of values by asking whether it was not possible for people to change their mind. The integration of this rhetoric question, placed after Benedicks reasoning, involves the audience by causing them to reflect on the character's decision. In this case specifically, the audience is persuaded to concur with Benedick's quick decision to love Beatrice. Likewise, the quote stated earlier regarding the paper bullets can also be said to be a rhetorical question and has a similar affect on the audience. Finally, hyperbole is used when Benedick says that 'she [Beatrice] will rather die than give any sign of affection.' Obviously, Beatrice would not prefer to die in this situation, but the use of such a strong exaggeration emphasises firmly the strong opinion by Beatrice. This quote is utilised by the playwright to form the appearance of Benedick as a sarcastic and witty character who would not live down the opportunity to make light of Beatrice's serious feelings, hence making Beatrice feel afraid to confess her emotions. Once again, from the literary techniques used, Shakespeare is able to continually reconstruct and progress Benedick's character.


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