“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he love me” – Beatrice (1.1.115)
The juxtapositions between Hero and Beatrice (and Benedict and Claudio) continues to be seen in Acts II and III. In fact, much of Act II is dominated by Beatrice’s talking but underlined by Hero’s silence. Shakespeare continues to remind the audience of the crassness of Beatrice’s constant wit and lecturing when even she begins to remark that she will likely remain a spinster because of her behavior. Early in Act II, during the dancing scene, Beatrice accidentally puts down Benedict to his (masked) face, not realizing it was him. She does, however, seem to admit that there was some sort of romantic history between the two at some point. Later in the same act, she says, “Thus goes everyone to the world but I, and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner and cry, ‘Heigh-ho for a husband!'” (2.1.287). She is admitting that she will have to remain home and without a husband. When Don Pedro jokingly offers to marry her, she retorts and dismisses him. While I am not arguing that she accepts the proposal of any man who offers, it is her attitude towards the idea of marriage, as a woman of her time, that leads to her breaking of norms and the desire of others to reign her back into those norms.
But while what is said is what is important to note between Beatrice and Benedict, when it comes to Hero and Claudio it is what is left unsaid that needs to be noticed. The two are basically silent towards each other in both Acts II and III. In fact, their marriage is planned more or less without any input from either of the two. Even after the two are confirmed for each other, they still do not speak in any sort of intimate manner. The apparent lack of communication also does not help when Claudio is led to believe that Hero may be committing infidelities by having someone speak to her on her balcony. Little does Claudio realize that it is actually Margaret on the balcony, not Hero. There is a constant silence present between the two, at one point Claudio even referring to the silence as the “perfectest herald of joy” (2.1.267), even when the silence had not really led to any joy to speak of.
It seems that one of the most important things that Shakespeare has pointed out so far is that communication is vital to the behavior of the characters involved. With Claudio and Hero, there had been almost no communication. Claudio asked for help from Don Pedro to trick Hero to fall in love instead of developing a proper emotional connection to her. Once they are set to be married, Claudio still does not engage Hero. Finally, once Claudio is led to believe that Hero may be committing infidelity, he not only decides that he will not discuss it with her but instead shame her at the wedding. At the same time, the issue with Beatrice and Benedict is also one of communication, in this case, miscommunication. The two seem afraid to discuss their personal feelings, and instead decide to belittle and tease each other, to the point where there is a recognizable tension every time they are interacting. This gives other parties involved, such as Don Pedro and Leonato, the opportunity to deceive Beatrice and Benedict into confessing love for each other, and then being pressured into that love even if it is not actually genuine. As we all know, communication goes a long way in relationship, and in Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare has shown the dangers of lack of communication and improper communication, showing how these two errors can lead to lies and deception by other parties involved.