Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lying: a Sin or a Useful Tool?

Thus far in Shakespeare's comedy, "Much Ado About Nothing," relationships are increasing in importance, and characters are going to outrageous lengths to pursue their love interests. Men like Benedick--the confident comic--utilize wit and boasting to attract the opposite sex (aka. Beatrice). However sometimes, more favorable ploys such as simply admitting outloud, or telling the truth, just don't seem to make progress. In those situations, lying comes into play, and there are certainly several situations where this is evident.

Claudio, the more sensitive and charming member of Don Pedro's army, returns to Messina with a newfound interest in Prince Leonato's daughter, Hero. This possible romance has mixed opinions, like critical Benedick's, and Don Pedro's encouragement. Yet Claudio can't seem to approach Hero himself. During the night of the masquerade, Don John (whom is aware of this situation) approaches Claudio and addresses him as Benedick. He exchanges his two cent on how Claudio is "no equal to his birth," and that he should "dissuade him from her" (II.1.162-163). In a soliloquy, Claudio says, "Thus answer I in the name of Benedick/But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio" (II.1. 170-171). Without receiving this information, Claudio wouldn't have been aware of Don John's jealousy and cruelty, and the need to take caution if he wants to get ahold of Hero. This scene represents how lying in one's life can provide knowledge and keep one current on the latest gossip, but most importantly, its ability to help someone to protect themselves. In this case, the newfound knowledge does not harm anybody, but rather it assists somebody.

Another example arises in scene 3 of Act 2, where Don Pedro makes an attempt to bring Benedick and Beatrice together. This seemingly quarrelsome relationship has not developed yet, but while Benedick is hiding behind the bushes in the garden, Don Pedro lies about Beatrice's immense love for him, "By my troth lord, I cannot tell what to think about it, but that she loves him with an enraged affection, it is past the infinite of thought" (II.3.107-109). This very thought segues into Benedick's revealing speech where he addresses all of the emotions going through his mind. However, later, when Beatrice comes to invite Benedick in for supper, her abhorance returns, and it is evident that no such relationship exists yet. Lying can also, and more often, acheive un-favorable results; it can lead someone down the wrong path where they actually believe what is untrue. Benedick has the wrong impression, and now he will have to deal with Beatrice himself, and build a relationship without assitance. Perhaps by eliminating some of that superiority, and telling the truth, he will succeed.


Evan S. said...

Hey Chris!
Good ideas in this post. I do think though that most of the lies made in this particular Shakespeare play are made as a joke of some sorts. But I do agree that lies can definitely lead someone down the wrong road.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Chris,
I like how you backed up your ideas about Claudio being sensitive and more reserved. By using that soliloquy, you show how thoughtful and introspective he is. Unfortunately, Claudio does sometimes think that his friends go against him (Don Pedro), which makes it hard for him to trust anyone. Nice work!

David G said...

I agree with your statement how Claudio was able to protect himself by lying to Don John and gaining valuable information. This is a good example of when lying is justified. Nice post

sonofabennett7 said...

Nice, this is good. Your examples are well planned out and thought out. Way to show us how to write. Keep up the good work!

Peter R. said...

Excellent response, Chris.

I don't blame you for saying that Claudio is a sensitive and charming member of the household back when you replied to this assignment. I would have agreed back then around act II. But now, I think after reading act IV we have a new perspective on Claudio. At the wedding he showed absolutely no signs of sensitivity whatsoever! Of course, he has the right to be upset. Imagine seeing your fiance sleeping with another man the night before the wedding. It is a devastating situation created by Don John's lie. I think that that he couldn't of concocted a more perilous scheme for Hero, Claudio and their families.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the fact that Claudio continues to believe Don John. I think it makes me feel like Claudio is less of a person because he didn't realize after the first run-in with Don John how much of a mischievous person he is.After all, he is labeled John the Bastard.