3.3.4 Verbal duels

Finally, we find verbal duels in Shakespeare’s plays that are comparable to flyting or even to sounding:

The following passage is taken from Shakespeare’s Much ado about nothing, Act I, Scene 3 (~1598/99). It is a comedy consisting of two parallel love stories, set at the court of Don Leonato in Messina/Italy. After a victorous war, Don Pedro from Aragon, his bastard brother Don John, and the noblemen Claudio and Benedict come to visit Don Leonato’s court. On the one hand we find Claudio, who falls in love and engages with Don Leonato’s daughter Hero. They plan to marry, but Don John schemes against them in order to prevent the marriage. In the end the intrigue is discovered and Claudio and Hero marry, just like Benedick and Hero’s cousine Beatrice. Their love for each other has started to grow because of an intrigue by Don Pedro, Don Leonato and their fellows “to bring Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection the one with the other”.

The following scene is at the very beginning of the play when Beatrice and Benedick first meet:

Click here to watch the scene.

Click here to read the text.