Shakespeare, W - Much Ado About Nothing (Arden, 2006).pdf

Both speakers continue to quibble significantly on

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Both speakers continue to quibble (significantly, on nothing and knowing) in their first admissions of love, as if to leave an escape clause in their declarations. 'They manage by a deft indirectness to put nothing into a syntax where the other person can choose either its negative or its positive meaning' (Jorgensen, 30). 273 By my sword a mild oath, derived from the function of a sword as a guarantor of a gentleman's honour and status (as well as its cross-shape formed by the handguard, useful for swearing upon). Beatrice's reply (don't eat - or renege on - your oath/word) may pun on the more serious oath, 'God's word', which contracts to 'sword, as in H52. 1.98-101 : 'BARDOLPH By this sword, he that makes the first thrust, I'll kill him. By this sword, I will. / PISTOL Sword is an oath, and oaths must have their course.' Cf. Dent, W825: 'To eat one's words'. 278 to for 279, 283 protest solemnly affirm 280 God forgive me either for 'infringing the convention that the woman takes no initiative in love' (Ard 2 ), or, given her reference to a happy hour (282), for thinking of love in the midst of her cousin's tragedy 274 swear] Qj sweare by it F 274
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Much Ado About Nothing 4.1.302 BENEDICK What offence, sweet Beatrice? BEATRICE You have stayed me in a happy hour; I was about to protest I loved you. BENEDICK And do it, with all thy heart. BEATRICE I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest. BENEDICK Come, bid me do anything for thee. Kill Claudio. Ha, not for the wide world. You kill me to deny it. Farewell. [Moves as if to 285 BEATRICE BENEDICK BEATRICE leave.] BENEDICK BEATRICE Tarry, sweet Beatrice. [Stays her.] I am gone, though I am here. There is no love in you; nay, I pray you, let me go. BENEDICK Beatrice - BEATRICE In faith, I will go. BENEDICK We'll be friends first. BEATRICE You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy. BENEDICK Is Claudio thine enemy? BEATRICE Is 'a not approved in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O, that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they 290 295 300 282 stayed me stopped me (perhaps physically, as at 291, or by interrupt- ing her with his query at 281); caught me, found me happy hour lucky moment 286 protest quibble on the meaning at 279, 283 288 Kill Claudio This line, its delivery and its reception, by both Benedick and the audience (laughter? shocked silence?) is one of the indices of a production's tenor. See Cox, 'Stage'. 290 deny it refuse my request 292 'I . . . here I have left in spirit, even though you are forcibly retaining me. 300 approved . . . height proved to the utmost extreme 302 a man! i.e. able to avenge Hero in a duel bear . . . hand lead her on, delude her; cf. Jonson, Volpone, 1.1.88-90: 'still bearing them in hand, / Letting the cherry knock against their lips, / And draw it, by their mouths, and back againe' (Jonson, 5.27). 290 it] am. F SD] this edn 291 SD] Oxf (Barring her way) 294 Beatrice - ] Theobald; Beatrice. Q_ 275
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4.1.303 Much Ado About Nothing come to take hands, and then with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour? O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace. 305 BENEDICK Hear me, Beatrice - BEATRICE Talk with a man out at a window! A proper
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