Need help interpreting Shakespeare's play "Much Ado About Nothing"?
I’m currently studying the play and I’m confused about the last scene towards the very end. My exam is quite soon and Shakespeare decided to include the following lines in the conclusion of the play, I assume that they are significant.
Benedick says “For thy part, Claudiom I did think to have beaten thee; but n that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised and love my cousin.”
Does Benedick mean that he nearly beat Claudio by not becoming married and risking cuckoldry, or that he expected to beat Claudio had they dueled?
Claudio replies: “I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice, that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single life, to make thee a double-dealer; which out of question thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look exceedingly narrowly to thee.”
According to the commentary, “double-dealer” refers to being both a married man and an unfaithful husband. But whatever could Claudio mean by this? If Benedick had denied Beatrice, how would that have kept him from being single?
Or is he referring to the very beginning of Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship that is hinted at throughout the play (i.e. is Claudio admitting that it was he who had dissuaded Benedick from marrying Beatrice in the first place by encouraging him to play around?) Then again, the term “double-dealer” implies that he is married, so I don’t think this explanation is correct.
Your help would be very much appreciated!
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