Benedick is one of Much Ado About Nothing’s most lively and interesting characters making him an ideal candidate for audition. You will need a lot of energy and wit to effectively play Benedick, but the following speech will leave a lasting impression with the casting director if well-performed.
(Coming forward) This can be no trick. The conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady; it seems her affections have their full bent.
Love me? Why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censured. They say I will bear myself proudly if I perceive the love come from her. They say too that she will rather die than give any sign of affection. I did never think to marry. I must not seem proud. Happy are they that hear their detractions and can put them to mending.
They say the lady is fair; ‘tis a truth, I can bear them witness. And virtuous; ‘tis so, I cannot reprove it. And wise, but for loving me. By my troth, it is no addition to her wit nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her.
I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me because I have railed so long against marriage, but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humour? No. The world must be peopled.
When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married. Here comes Beatrice.
By this day, she’s a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in her.
Much Ado About Nothing: Act 2, Scene 3.
Characterization: Benedick is a young, witty and popular man. He always feels the need to “perform” in social situations and is therefore the life and soul of any party. Although he can’t bring himself to admit it, he is in love with Beatrice.
Context: This speech directly follows the overhearing scene in which Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonato willfully deceive Benedick into believing Beatrice is in love with him. They stage a conversation which is overheard by Benedick to comic effect. Therefore the first line of the speech, “This can be no trick,” responds to the preceding action and has lots of comic potential.
Motivation: This speech is a turning point for the young Benedick. Earlier in the play, he vowed never to marry despite the romantic attraction between him and Beatrice. However, both Benedick and Beatrice are too sharp witted and competitive for a functional relationship to develop. In this speech, we see Benedick drop his defenses for the first time and honestly contemplate his love for Beatrice. In your performance, it is therefore important to place an emphasis on Benedick’s struggle with his romantic feelings.
Key Line: “for I will be horribly in love with her.” This is the turning point in the speech and can be used to great comic effect in performance. This is the first time Benedick manages to vocalize his romantic feelings for Beatrice, but the use of the word “horribly” emphasizes his awkwardness.
Before the Audition: Be prepared to answer questions about the play. Use our Much Ado About Nothing Study Guide to familiarize yourself with Benedick’s other scenes and carefully read the whole of Act 2, Scene 3. Finally, make sure that you are prepared for the audition by reading our guide to audition etiquette.