Much Ado About Nothing Quotes on Lies and Deceit

Speaker: “You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your daughter.”Audience: “Her mother hath many times told me so.” Speaker: Don PedroAudience: LeonatoSituation: The first mention we have of a married couple (Leonato and his absent wife) is a joke about whether that wife may have deceived Leonato about the parentage of their child. Marriage is set up to be lampooned, but it seems that deception is expected as a natural part of marriage.
Speaker: “Why, i’ faith, methinks she’s too low for a high praise,too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise.Only this commendation I can afford her, that were she otherthan she is, she were unhandsome, and being no other but as sheis, I do not like her.”Audience: “Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly howthou lik’st her.” Speaker: Benedick Audience: ClaudioSituation: Claudio can’t accept that Benedick has nothing more to say about Hero than that she’s short, dark, and too small. He thinks Benedick is lying about his honest feelings, which supports the notion that Benedick doesn’t often say what he thinks. Benedick prefers to deceive humorously over speaking truthfully.
“That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she brought meup, I likewise give her most humble thanks; but that I will havea rechate winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me. Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trustnone; and the fine is (for the which I may go the finer), I willlive a bachelor.” Speaker: BenedickAudience: SelfSituation: Benedick says his main obstacle to love is that he’ll never do a lady the disfavor of mistrusting her. At the same time, he’s certain he can’t bring himself to trust a lady, so it looks like he’ll be ladyless. It’s not that he thinks love itself is awful (maybe), but that he finds deception to be inherent to women (and love).
“‘Tis once, thou lovest,And I will fit thee with the remedy.I know we shall have revelling to-night.I will assume thy part in some disguiseAnd tell fair Hero I am Claudio,And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heartAnd take her hearing prisoner with the forceAnd strong encounter of my amorous tale.” Speaker: Don PedroAudience: ClaudioSituation: Don Pedro will manipulate Hero into falling in love with Claudio. It’s a little shady that Don Pedro will get Hero to fall in love with his words, thinking they’re Claudio’s words. Claudio and Don Pedro don’t care if they manipulate the girl under false pretenses, as they’ve got their eyes on the prize of winning her (even if she is deceived into being won by a guy she doesn’t know and has never spoken to).
“I wonder that thou (being, as thou say’st thou art, bornunder Saturn) goest about to apply a moral medicine to amortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad whenI have cause, and smile at no man’s jests; eat when I havestomach, and wait for no man’s leisure; sleep when I am drowsy,and tend on no man’s business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no man in his humour.” Speaker: Don JohnAudience: SelfSituation: This is a particular bit of irony – Don John says he’s not really capable of deception. He can’t hide what he’s feeling, or what a villain he is. You’d think this was crazy, because Don John does so much deceiving in the play. Come to think of it, he never actually made a great show of being a good or warm guy to begin with. He skulks around the castle, and while he tells direct lies to others in the service of evil, no one could ever say that he tried to pretend to be someone he’s not. In that case, who’s more at fault, Don John for being a trickster, or Don Pedro and Claudio for trusting him? Deception is a complex thing.
Speaker: “How know you he loves her?”Audience: “I heard him swear his affection.” Speaker: ClaudioAudience: Don JohnSituation: Claudio’s great failing is that he’s easily manipulated into suspicion, which leaves him wide open to be deceived.
“There’s little of the melancholy element in her, my lord. Sheis never sad but when she sleeps, and not ever sad then; for Ihave heard my daughter say she hath often dreamt of unhappiness and wak’d herself with laughing.” Speaker: LeonatoAudience: Don PedroSituation: Here, Beatrice might be practicing self-deception. She knows there’s a lot to be miserable about in the world, but it’s easier to laugh than to cry at things you have no control over. This sleeping self-deception casts some light on Beatrice’s ability to be happy in the waking world, even though she might reasonably be sad that she’s so alone.
“I will teach you how to humouryour cousin, that she shall fall in love with Benedick; and I,[to Leonato and Claudio] with your two helps, will so practise onBenedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his queasystomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this,Cupid is no longer an archer; his glory shall be ours, for we arethe only love-gods. Go in with me, and I will tell you my drift.” Speaker: Don PedroAudience: Hero, Leonato, ClaudioSituation: Don Pedro and Claudio engage in some deception, but rather than tricking him into loving Beatrice, most likely they intend to manipulate Benedick into coming to a conclusion on his own. They can lie, but they can’t assume their lies will persuade: only what’s latent in Benedick can bring him to love Beatrice. Their deception is just helping that process along.
“Our talk must only be of Benedick.When I do name him, let it be thy partTo praise him more than ever man did merit.My talk to thee must be how BenedickIs sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matterIs little Cupid’s crafty arrow made,That only wounds by hearsay.” Speaker: HeroAudience: UrsulaSituation: When Hero employs the same process as Don Pedro and Claudio, she frames what’s really going on. They’re definitely deceiving Beatrice about Benedick’s supposed condition, but they’re arguably only guilty of planting hearsay (rumor). They only mean to let suspicion and hearsay lead Beatrice to the conclusion that she probably would’ve come to anyway. Maybe.
“The word is too good to paint out her wickedness. I could sayshe were worse; think you of a worse title, and I will fit her toit. Wonder not till further warrant. Go but with me to-night, youshall see her chamber window ent’red, even the night before herwedding day. If you love her then, to-morrow wed her. But itwould better fit your honour to change your mind.” Speaker: Don JohnAudience: Don Pedro and ClaudioSituation: Again, Don John uses manipulation to plant the seeds of suspicion. He doesn’t give any details about Hero’s disloyalty; but instead, he’ll prove it to them later, and gives them the whole afternoon to imagine the girl’s transgressions. What’s true is often not as bad as what we can imagine is true, especially if we’re lured in by suspicion.
“I have mark’dA thousand blushing apparitionsTo start into her face, a thousand innocent shamesIn angel whiteness beat away those blushes,And in her eye there hath appear’d a fireTo burn the errors that these princes holdAgainst her maiden truth. Call me a fool;Trust not my reading nor my observation,Which with experimental seal doth warrantThe tenure of my book; trust not my age,My reverence, calling, nor divinity,If this sweet lady lie not guiltless hereUnder some biting error.” Speaker: Friar FrancisAudience: Hero, Leonato, Benedick, and BeatriceSituation: The Friar trusts that his eyes, and everything he’s ever known about Hero, don’t deceive him. His judgment implicitly calls into question the judgment of her accusers. Something isn’t right, and Friar Francis is willing to bet his learning, observation, and even his Godliness on it. He knows he’s not deceived by Hero, therefore the others have been deceived by the accusers.
Speaker: “Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,Your niece regards me with an eye of favour.”Audience: “That eye my daughter lent her. ‘Tis most true.”Speaker: “And I do with an eye of love requite her.”Audience: “The sight whereof I think you had from me,From Claudio, and the Prince; but what’s your will?”Speaker: “Your answer, sir, is enigmatical;But, for my will, my will is, your good willMay stand with ours, this day to be conjoin’dIn the state of honourable marriage;In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.” Speaker: BenedickAudience: Leonato (and Friar)Situation: Though Benedick and Beatrice essentially arrived at loving each other because of the manipulation of others, this is the closest they ever come to discovering Don Pedro’s scheme. However, this “good” deception is ultimately less important than Benedick’s love for Beatrice.

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