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Catalog of the Shakespeare Art Collection  --  Watercolors of Shakespearean Characters 
~ Bastards, Frauds & Tellers of the Truth  ~


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BEATRICE in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
by Hannah Tompkins
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Beatrice Watercolor by Hannah Tompkins

 

Although a good part of the plot revolves around a pair of young lovers, the real heroine and hero are Beatrice and her adversary lover, Benedick.

Beatrice has a quick tongue and a sharp wit. She is never at a loss for snappy come-backs, spiced with truth, which she shuttles back and forth in verbal ping-pong. Possessed of such an artillery, she is not intimidated by the authority of the Governor or the status of the Prince. She charms, captivates and stimulates. After some pleasant teasing banter with the Prince she says:
"But I beseech your Grace, pardon me;
I was born to speak all mirth and no matter."

He answers:
"Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for out of question, you were born in a merry hour."

Beatrice: "No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born..."
But her mirth is not so hollow or inflated that it cannot give way to serious thoughts. It turns to acid anger as her loyalty and sense of decency take the lead in defending her young cousin who has been wrongfully slandered and rejected at the church altar.

Assuring her of his sympathy, Benedick becomes the recipient for her incendiary sparks:
(Act IV sc. i.)
"Is he not approved in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? 0 that I were a man!... But manhood is melted into courtesies, valor into compliment, and men only turned into tongue, and trim ones toot he is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie, and swears it too. I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die grieving."
And with that she persuades Benedick to avenge the wrong by promising to kill Claudio, the guilty groom and his best friend. There is no other course for Beatrice; she is committed to defend justice and honor, for she is a sincere, and faithful truth-teller.

Fortunately, this violence is averted by the testimony of Verges and Dogberry who save the day and everyone ends happy, everyone that is, except the malevolent bastard brother, Don John.


Copyright © 1982 Hannah Tompkins. All rights reserved.

 

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