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Group Readings > Much Ado...Act 2, May 27

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message 1: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
Discussion of Act 2 in "Much Ado About Nothing" happens here


:)


message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim | 38 comments The character of Don John seems simpler and more two-dimensional (maybe one-dimensional) to me than the other characters in the play ("Hello, I'm bitter and evil"). Do other people find that? Are there more dimensions to him than I'm seeing so far? I even wonder if there are many characters in other Shakespeare plays that have such a narrow focus. Maybe clowns? It seems a contrast to the rich, real characters that are so much of what makes Shakespeare great.


message 3: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 97 comments Jim wrote: "The character of Don John seems simpler and more two-dimensional (maybe one-dimensional) to me than the other characters in the play ("Hello, I'm bitter and evil"). Do other people find that? Are t..."

I'm only halfway through act II, but right now Don John is one of my favorite characters. He loses a war and then gets dragged around like booty. He's expected to smile because other people are happy. I get the bitterness, and I'm kind of rooting for him.


message 4: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 97 comments Finished Act II.

This has got to be the fluffiest Shakespeare play I have read so far. If it were any lighter, it would blow away in the wind! I am used to his comedies having a bit more going on thematically or structurally, but this one moves in a pretty straight line without a lot that I can perceive below the surface. I'm not disliking it; I'm just surprised at its simplicity.


message 5: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
Hi everyone....I just got caught up this morning. Sorry for being AWOL. Had a crazy week at work and not much time to read or visit here.

I am just wrapped up Act 2.

One of the things that first struck me is the dialogue about not ever marrying. I couldn't help but think of the Sonnet we read a few weeks ago that tried to encourage someone to marry.

I thought the feelings of "thanks to my mother....for her love however I will never let a woman into my life again" such a good hint at a connection here about the role of men and women.

I am very curious how this will play out.

I am just trying to accustomed to the structure here.


this play is already so interesting because we have the brothers juxtaposed. A "good" brother who is "real" and a "bad" brother" who is "fake". Isn't this like KING LEAR?


Then we have the two couples juxtaposed. I wonder this is such a clever device because this way the audience can really compare attitudes and customs of the three sets of "doubles"....


More in a bit...I have to run to the store to get cream for my morning coffee!!!

LOL


message 6: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
I noticed that some of us have seen the Kenneth Braunaugh film of this play. I have too.

Early in the film...so as not to give away spoilers....what Braughnugh does is he creates clusters of characters. The actors are often set together and the way he directs the actors to be in a group....encourages us to see the characters as part of a community and larger society.

Shakespeare has set this up in the first two acts...and this s part of what the word "nothing/noting" refers to that yes, there may be some gossip....but ultimately that gossip has a purpose of helping the friends and community keep track of what is going on with each person...are they fitting in? Do we like their boyfriend/girlfriend?

What we are seeing in this first Act and second Act....is that relationships were considered part of a community. the friends are playing cupid....to Benedic and Beatrice...because they believe they suit each other.

I think the "doubles" we see with the two brothers and the other couple...are to enforce our witnessing of what makes a good marriage and couple?


message 7: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
I will try to find the dialogue...where Beatrice says that Bendict has too many lovers....and she will eat them once she finds out who they are.

This was very interesting to me. I'm not sure it's a terrible thing...as I think it partly means that by eating his past girlfriends...she will live from them...she will absorb them/consume them. Tat could be seen as worthy and loving. Like transubstantiation. she will know them as friends and accept them as a power unto her life.

I will try to copy and paste that dialogue....when I can find it again!!!


message 8: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 97 comments Are you thinking of this from Act I, Scene 1:

I pray you, how
many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But
how many hath he killed? For indeed I promised to
eat all of his killing.

It comes right after the "posting bills for archery contest with Cupid" lines, so at first I took it as a comment on his womanizing. After rereading, I took it as a jab at his valor in battle- she wouldn't have to eat any bodies because he was incapable of killing an enemy.

I bought a used copy of the play for this discussion, and the previous owner scribbled "man ho" in the margin, so maybe the womanizing interpretation has its following as well.


message 9: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
Yes, Phil, thank you!

Ah that is very funny! I like the idea that she will eat his kills because he is such a bad shot. I am laughing out loud at that right now. I could not "get" that before.


message 10: by P.D.R. (new)

P.D.R. Lindsay (pdrlindsay) Actually it's a nasty jab at Benedick's valour and bravery and ability to fight and kill.

Beatrice will eat any person killed by Benedick but has no fear of doing so because he won't have killed anyone.

But as it's all part of the group just back from battle and amidst fighting talk Bea's comment is treated as it deserves for Benedick, Claudio and the prince are 'sword arm shield arm' for each other and notably so. Their friendship is strong.


message 11: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 97 comments General Shakespeare question: Why so much Italy? It seems like a disproportionate number of his plays are set there. This one, for example. Why not set it in London? There doesn't seem to be any particular reason for it to be happening in Messina.


message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim | 38 comments Phil wrote: "General Shakespeare question: Why so much Italy? It seems like a disproportionate number of his plays are set there. This one, for example. Why not set it in London? There doesn't seem to be any pa..."

I thought Italy might have been the place to be just post-Rennaissance? The most advanced and cool location? I'm not sure where that would be now, but maybe like Seattle a generation ago and San Francisco or London a generation before that, or Paris in the 1920s?


message 13: by Martin (new)

Martin | 16 comments Replying to Phil here: the idea that S set "a disproportionate number of his plays" in Italy is a common myth. You have to separate the Italy of the Renaissance from the ancient Rome described in Plutarch, and then you get the following breakdown for the principal locations of the 37 plays traditionally ascribed to S:

Britain: 15
Greek world: 6
Italy: 6
Roman world: 4
France: 3
other: 3 (Denmark, Vienna, magic island)

Of the 6 Italian plays, two are Venetian, which was seen as a distinct sea-going empire, and if I remember right Othello is set more on Rhodes than in Venice itself, and Much Ado, as I said in an earlier post, is in Sicily, which then was not really seen as part of Italy at all. (I suggested that the Spanish dominance of Sicily was significant.) There are only 3 plays which are truly Italian, 2 Gent of Verona, Romeo & Juliet, Taming of the Shrew.


message 14: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
One argument I read about why this play is set in Italy is because of the laws surrounding estates, marriage and the way money is given out for marriage.

I think that is why we have the comparisons between social life and between the couples.

We have a chance to compare relationships based on arrangement based on financial benefits versus marriages arranged based on friendship.

We also have a chance to compare the relationships that men have with each other versus the relationships women have with each other.

I will work on finding some examples where the male friendships are different than female friendships....


message 15: by P.D.R. (new)

P.D.R. Lindsay (pdrlindsay) For those who expressed interest here is the collection of Shakespeare MOOC courses on Future Learn. (free and with experts Prof Bate is one of them!)

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/c...


message 16: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
I've got to start somewhere. I'm feeling like there is so much fun dialogue in here...it's hard to sift through. All I can say is thank goodness we are only doing one Act a week. It helps for sorting out the content and meanings.

I'll start with mean and women....by this line...

"By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue."

Wha a recurring complaint from men. Men are utterly "annoyed" which i think is threatened by women talking. We have mythology Circe not being heard. Is that so with Cassandra too?

So this idea of constantly having a gossip campaign about women talking...on the phone...gossiping...being "shrewish"". A woman's voice is one f the most threatening things to patriarchy. If women talk...they will be cohesive and plot and have power. If men have brawn...women use there voice for their brain. Women are always in soliloquy and always like Hamlet....we speak so we know what we think.

I am so glad that the world has changed in many cultures and women are able to speak.

I used to joke at a retail store I worked at...if two female staff were talking...a male manager ALWAYS came over and joined in. It was a passive aggressive form of dominance. It made the work place intolerable. We would just roll our eyes. And of course...when women speak with each other...we are able to share better ways of doing things in our work places, schools, temples.


message 17: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 97 comments Candy wrote: "I've got to start somewhere. I'm feeling like there is so much fun dialogue in here...it's hard to sift through. All I can say is thank goodness we are only doing one Act a week. It helps for sorti..."

The surprising thing about gender roles in this play (so far) is how much more appealing Beatrice is than Hero. I would think that Hero, who better fits the role of a demure princess, would get some beautiful speeches or flirtatious dialogue, but it's Beatrice, the "Lady Tongue," who gets all the limelight.


message 18: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2557 comments Mod
I agree. Beatrice is more appealing. I believe Hero seems like a person who has had trouble developing she is held back emotionally in some way.

More later.....I've had extra work responsibility suddenly and will be back!


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