I haven't changed my mind about that. Of all the awful things that could have happened as a result of Don John's lies and Claudio's gullibility, for the fracture that arose between Benedick and his friends to have remained permanent would have been minor, but still sad. As it is, no matter how many times I see it, I'll always cringe at the argument between Benedick and Claudio. I'll always be horrified when Benedick slaps him. Watching such a brilliant friendship come to literal blows underscores how serious Claudio's choices were.
So in our post-show conversation that day, I went on to say, "If only Benedick had been there with Claudio when John tricked them." If only, indeed. Of course, had he been there, we would have no conflict to drive this show. I'm pretty sure Benedick would have been skeptical of John's news and his declarations of his own good intentions, and if nothing else, Benedick would have immediately acted to set the record straight one way or another. Instead, Claudio went off hurt and angry to stew for a few hours before publicly humiliating Hero. Benedick wouldn't have allowed his friend to do that to himself if he had been able to stop it.
|See? Much better as friends. Hey, have I mentioned my|
crush on--no, never mind.
I don't know whether Shakepeare intended this play to be instructive, but he still sneaked in this bit of truth: Friends make us better. And from a guy who wrote more murderous enemies than besties, I'll take all the awesome friendships I can get. (See also: Hamlet and Horatio.)
How do your friends make you better?