Humour in 'Much Ado About Nothing'

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Humour in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Characters relevant to humour:

  • Beatrice uses humour to be outspoken about marriage

  • Benedick amuses his friends and jokes about hating marriage

  • Leonato jokes about cuckolding, until his daughter’s honour is questioned

  • The Watch are part of the play for comic relief

Beatrice:

  • Has a merry war with Benedick

    • ‘I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody marks you.’

    • Seeks him out when no-one else is speaking to him

  • The source of this is possibly a history between them

    • ‘You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old.’

    • A ‘jade’ was a broken down, vicious horse

  • Uses her humour to be outspoken

    • ‘It is my cousin's duty to make curtsy and say 'Father, as it please you.' ... let him be a handsome fellow, or else make another curtsy and say 'Father, as it please me.'’

    • She is being light-hearted about  about the expectation of her cousin to be dutiful

    • Being outspoken towards her uncle, while acknowledging what her cousin is expected to do

  • Jokes about marriage

    • ‘I have a good eye, uncle, I can see a church by daylight’

    • Joking, but also serious, saying she will not marry as she has a realistic view of marriage

  • Does not admit to her feelings, disguises them using humour

    • ‘I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.’/‘No, an he were, I would burn my study’

    • ‘In your books’ means in your good graces

    • She replies joking to a serious question

Benedick:

  • Has a battle of

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