Comparison and Contrast of Twelfth Hour Act Two Scene Four and Much Ado Act Two Scene Four

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William Shakespeare is a world-famous writer for his legendary books like Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, and Twelfth Hour among other books. He embraced different styles of writing from comedy, drama to tragedy. Born in Stratford, England, his exact date birth is not clear, but the records of baptism show that it was done on April 24, 1564.  This gives the estimates of his birth to be around this period. He was a third born in the family of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. He was branded the “Bard of Avon” and was referred as England’s countrywide poet.  His book Romeo and Juliet, have stood the test of time as the most celebrated love book may be because of the tragedy or perhaps the diction used in the play. In many cases, Shakespeare used rather similar styles in his plays to portray the kind of themes he would wish to express to his society, no wonder; his books are more of a sequence; deriving the reader from doing more and more. This paper attempts to compare and contrast his work in Twelfth Hour and Much Ado about Nothing. The citations are drawn from scene two-act four, page, 76 to  Scene Two Act five of the Twelfth Hour and chapter two (Strategy of love) in Much Ado About Nothing. In the first part, an analysis is tired of the characters of Orsino and Benedict, their perceptions of love, and the challenges they undergo in pursuit of it. The second analysis is then done between Cesario and Hero’s characters and their suffering in the hands of men: one that is mean and oppressive and the other that is destructed by friends to stop his adventure. Subsequent paragraphs will sample random characters by comparing and contrasting their actions.

In the twelfth-hour act two Scene four, a series of two contradicting lovebirds are introduced. Each person has own definition of love and takes own path of it. Cesario, Orsino’s lover, hides her identity as viola to know what her lover thinks about her. While she means to love and talks intimately about it, her lover, Orsino has questionable and unpredictable qualities. He behaves like he loves when he doesn’t. He believes that Cesario cannot deny him love whatsoever and probably the reason for his misbehavior towards her. While he expects to be loved in return, he calls a man’s love giddy; to mean unpredictable, shaky, dizzy, and one that can fall anytime. Sadly, he refers to a woman as a rose flower that withers after a short time. Orsino argues that the moment he deflowers (getting what he wants from her), his love for her dies. He alludes to Feste song about a young man who dies because his quest for love for a lady he loves goes unanswered. Orsino calls it ridiculous, fatal and full of dallies with the virtues of love.

Contrary, we are introduced to Cesario, an honest and intimate lady about love. She chooses to camouflage as Viola so that she may get to know what her lover thinks of her. She is not self-centered like her partner Orsino. Her perception of love is seen from her determinations and sacrifices; she gets to know her lover through her commitments in the relationship. Her acts of selflessness are more seen when she opts to court Olivia for Orsino when she had the opportunity to do that to herself. Unlike Orsino, her words as depicted in the verses are so honest and intimate unlike the narcissist Orsino.  Cesario’s talk about love is competent and shocks Orsino to believe she (in disguise as Olivia) must be in love and advises him to fall in love with a woman younger than himself. In fact, her love suffers rebellion, but she is so faithful in her heart and narrates to Orsino how she had tendered her love for the Duke from her early days to the youthful stages when she let it blossom. Cesario in her mask as Olivia lectures Orsino on the fundamentals of love; something that moves the Duke a little but behaves like he has not accepted his flaws to change to a better loving and caring man.

A similar sequence is seen in Much Ado about Nothing but one that is somewhat contradictory. Chapter two of this book; Strategy for love introduces the readers to Don Pedro, a selfless prince in the trait of Cesario, who like the latter choose to make sacrifices for his friend Claudio. Don Pedro realizes the unrelenting love his friend has towards Hero and takes the lead to woo her on his behalf. He knows his friend lacks the guts and audacity to face the lady alone. He devises a plan to meet Hero at a party and convinces her to love his friend, Claudio. Pedro knows love is a good thing and advice his friend to proceed in pursuit of this noble course.

Equally, Claudio believes in the power of love too. His endurance speaks it all; and as Shakespeare brings it out, he had had a love for Hero before the time he went to war, and he gets back and shows no signs of backing off. It shows a sign of being a gentleman; something that lacks in Orsino the Duke. However, he fears Hero might not show love in return for fear that it is so fast. It subsequently continues when Don Pedro adheres to his words and acts on the matter at the party. The talk bears fruits and the persons for in love.

These two excerpts are similar and distinct in some ways. First, in Scene two Act four, we are introduced to the Duke, Orsino who falls in love in the ‘mind’ but not in the heart. He appears so narcissist and self-centered that he refers his love to women as giddy, one that fades the moment sexual desires are satisfied. His definition of love is demeaning and mean in an actual sense. Similarly, in Much Ado about Nothing’ Strategy for love, the readers meet a man of equal stature, a prince by the name Don Pedro whose love circle is not introduced but one who mean well for a relationship. He advised his friend to marry because he believes it is a good thing. Contrary, the two Princes have distinct characters. While Don Pedro believes in love, Duke is a narcissist and self-proclaimed lover boy. He doesn’t mean love to his girlfriend, Cesario. Orsino perceives love as a pastime and sort of a make-believe thing. Orsino’s love is flimsy; a makeshift that only renders away his boredom and fatigue but denies it. Also, Cesario sacrificial and selfless nature is similar to Don Pedro’s. Cesario chooses to lure Olivia into falling in love with Orsino when she can use the same zeal to make him her own. Despite the challenges, she shows the commitment to doing so as revealed in the play. Likewise, Don Pedro by his position and guts has all it takes to lure and grab Hero to himself and make her his own, but he decides not. Instead, he uses this occasion to build trust between him and his friend, Claudio. His position amuses the eavesdropping servant whom to his surprise shares with Antonio and Leonato brothers.  All of them get shocked and imagines on the possibilities of the prince seeking a hand of their daughter, Hero. True to his words, He seduces Hero to accept his friend Claudio, and she accepts it. Don Pedro’s trait of wishing for good relationships is seen again he brocks a deal between Benedick and Beatrice. Although it appears like a prank when he launches this idea, it works in the minds of these two previous antagonists. Each separately begins to wonder about the possibilities, and as later portrayed, Benedick decides to iron his rude traits to Beatrice. That kind of character is not in Orsino, the Duke.

At the same time, Scene four Act five introduces a character in the name of Malvolio, a rather too proud man who fantasies a class he does not belong. In his conversation with Viola he reveals this to the latter that, he is above Olivia in his stars, and that Olivia should not question that because some have greatness inborn, some earn it while others have it imposed on them. It is much contradictory to his current position that lacks merit of the claimed cadre. This kind of ego is seen in Benedick too, who despite being a servant like his peers decides to hate his colleagues at work especially Beatrice. This is seen from his tone and diction towards her, and as Shakespeare makes it, Benedick only chooses to talk nicely to her after being duped that Beatrice must be in love with him.

Interestingly, both Malvolio and Benedick are duped. When Maria enters, she hugs Sir Toby, and his associates then tell them to hide in the box tree so that they may see the pranked Malvolio’s behavior before she drops the sham letter where she knows her target must find it. He is so much in illusion and hopes that Olivia loves him. This sense of entitlement is so much into him that the letter perfectly works for him. His ego and thirst for a rise in cadre supersede his yet to be seen uniqueness that he accepts the word for word pronouncements of this letter. Fantasies in his own shadow characterize his steps to pick the letter; he assumes that he is an earl and fantasies the great days he will get up from bed alongside the countess; the royal attires he will put on, and the arrogant attitude he will show his family circle. He later realizes all this was a prank. In the same way, Benedick is duped by Don Pedro and Claudio. The two realize the position in which Benedick is hiding, decide to position themselves strategically so that Benedick may get to listen to their story. They narrate how Beatrice loves him but fear to do so because she believes Benedick is too arrogant, unloving and won’t take her seriously. All these are done deliberately to convince Benedick too express some affection towards her. Don Pedro and Claudio then walk in the room for meals and true to their thoughts; Benedick humbles when Beatrice is sent to call him for the meals. He feels sorry for the disturbance he feels caused to her for letting her come just to look for him. When Beatrice refutes this, he affirms it as being genuine that she might love him. A similar case applies to Beatrice when she listens to Hero and her maid talk. She even wonders why they cannot believe in her to have all it takes to handle a man.

It is worth noting that Shakespeare explores the use of comic effect in both plays to bring humor to his readers. While Malvolio cannot take notice of the sarcastic sideshows of Sir Toby, Fabian and Andrew, a lot of wit in this scene is pegged on the remarks of these three people. The audience can listen to their acerbic comments thereby creating some humor to upsurge. Similarly, in Much Ado about Nothing, the unseen Dons mock Benedick’s change from a known bachelor to a wooer.

In conclusion, Shakespeare employs different stylistic devices in his work to bring out qualities of different characters in his plays. Like in his time, the moral lessons one gets from his books are applicable even in the contemporary society. Matters love and self-glory are more eminent in the present world than they were in the past. Malvolio kinds of persons are much alive and well; people who want all the credit to themselves no matter what input from another person. The Orson is equally in their numbers branded as sponsors and sugar daddies in different quotas. Their intentions to joke with ladies feelings and later dump them are stories the world wakes up to every morning.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Much Ado about Nothing. Vol. 29. Cambridge University Press, 2003.   Shakespeare, William. Twelfth night. Cengage Learning EMEA, 1975.

December 12, 2023




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