Below is the continuation of Much Ado About Nothing reading all of Act 4.
We see the near marriage of Claudio and Hero, Beatrice and Benedick finally talking and The Watch catching the villains.
The main observation I have is how everybody seems to think the best solution is to simply have people die: Claudio and Hero being the key nominees.
Some Further Character Observations:
Benedick: Respects the words of the women in the play – believes in Beatrice and Hero’s account when most others do not. Switches his allegiance to Beatrice (from the Prince) – tells Beatrice “Come, bid me do anything for thee” and then follows through with it. He also promises to to keep their secret from Don Pedro and Claudio.
Beatrice: Insecure and proud: unwilling to be clear about her feelings even after Benedick has made his position clear. Ruins the romance of the moment with the massively overdramatic and ridiculous “kill Claudio” which might have been the point followed by the useless men rant to redirect the intensity of the moment.
I like the Globe’s adaptation for explaining Beatrice’s outburst here as it puts it in the context of a relatable, desperate rant rather than her meaning every word.
Leonato: Overconfident and domineering – he interrupts and speaks in place of Claudio. Prideful and callous – when Hero has been accused of sleeping around Leonato hopes she’s dead, and if not promises to kill her himself and wishes she wasn’t his biological child so that he would not be associated with her shame.
Margaret: Is she at the wedding, does she witness this as is often the case in plays – if so why doesn’t she speak up as she would know what the Prince and Claudio are referring to. This is more evidence that Margaret is not as innocent as is claimed.
Friar: Intelligent – He realises the truth quickly, devises a plan that fools everybody as intended. which is contrary to how these types of characters are often portrayed.
In my previous post I wrote about urban sketching and how it had come my main art focus (urban sketching post) but without knowing it, this came at the expense of portrait sketching. However as my urban sketching group moved mostly online a splinter group formed focusing on portraits, sometimes live portrait models would sit on a zoom call with us and sometimes from photos, sometimes for 5 minutes a portrait sometimes up to 20minutes. In my own time I tend to use Pintrest for reference photos (portrait references on Pintrest) and love throwing vibrant colours down sometimes more successfully than others.
The group sketching reminded me how as a teen portrait sketching was my main go-to. It was easy to see if you’d “got it right” by whether the portrait was recognisable as the individual (often celebrity). Back then I tended to draw in pencil or charcoal almost never with a coloured medium. The style and technique were never important to me, only ever the likeness.
Here are a few of my favourite portraits from pre 2010
Looking back I’m surprised to find how much my portraits have changed, and in my opinion improved. Although the shapes and colours are vastly different in portraits and urban sketches, the skills used are very similar. The need for observation, perspective and contrast are equally important in both subjects consequently practicing these for any sketch will improve them for all. I think the most notable change is how much quicker and looser my sketches are. Being far more relaxed and confident in my sketching the final products often end up looking fresher and less over worked.
Here are a few more recent sketches using similar supplies.
I’ve also gained the confidence required to incorporate colour. My first memorable attempt was using a handful of cheap alcohol markers (chisel tip no brush tip) and I still enjoy using them.
More recently I’ve experimented with every type of coloured supply I could find:
Felt tip pens
Markers with felt tip pens (My current favourite)
Other line drawings and 3 tonesketches
I’m glad I’ve rediscovered portrait sketching and with resources such as Pintrest to provide references the possibilities are endless. Here’s a link to a collection of portrait references I use on Pintrest.
I have continued reading through Much Ado About Nothing which you can watch below. Here we are at act 3 scene 2 to act 3 scene 5. This is where Don John and Borachio put there plan into action and we are first introduced to the Prince’s Watch.
Having read through this and talked about my ideas as I went there are a few other thoughts I’ve had since:
Don Johnand Benedick
Did Don John intentionally wait for Benedick to leave before slandering Hero to Don Pedro and Claudio? We see later in the Play that Benedick really distrusts Don John and is happy to place all the blame on him without any actual evidence, so perhaps Don John avoided him on purpose. Don John is seemingly unaware of the trick Claudio, Don Pedro and Leonato have played on Benedick so would have no reason to think Benedick would be sympathetic to Hero and yet he doesn’t include Benedick in the plan. Alternatively maybe Don John thinks better of Benedick’s sense or fairness than many others seem to. Whatever his reasons Don John had provided further separation between Benedick and Don Pedro and Claudio.
ThePower of the Watch
We are introduced to the watch in such a way that we see their ideas, beliefs and approach to their duties so that we can be left in no doubt about their general idiocy. Their leader Dogberry has no intention of them actually catching any criminals but enjoys knowing that they have the power to do so. I think the utter ridiculousness of these men having power highlights how little the women have and how arrogant and elitist the leaders are. They are able to capture villains of the play and unravel their plots without having a clue what is going on. We see later that the women, despite their testimonies and evidence are unable to fight their corner.
We also see that the watch had the power to completely collapse Don John’s scheme when they visited Leonato. As the plan they had overheard involved Hero it would have been the most obvious thing in the world to simply alert Leonato to it without it going public, however it is Dogberry and Verges that visit that visit Leonato, not the watchmen who captured Borachio. This is another case of the male leaders’ arrogance and dismissiveness of those below them resulting in lesser results.
Is Margaret Innocent?
The more I read Much Ado About Nothing, the more interesting I find Margaret as a character. For a waiting lady her presence in a scene is often more notable than Hero’s. She is considered quick witted and beautiful by Beatrice and Benedick respectively and her observations and comments are often very confident and shrewd, In many ways she is presented be very similar to Beatrice but without her position in society. She is part of the plan to trick Beatrice into loving Benedick, and also (supposedly unwittingly) part of the plan to fool Don Pedro and Claudio into shaming Hero. She is seemingly all knowing and always nearby whenevr anything interesting happens.
With all this in mind, this is something that has bugged for a long time. Borachio’s plan involved Margaret, in the middle of the night, leaning out of Hero’s window, wearing Hero’s clothes, hearing herself be called Hero and behaving inappropriately towards Borachio (including talking loudly enough that Don Pedro and Claudio hidden in the orchard could hear them) all while Hero was away. Somehow we are meant to believe that Margaret would do all this naturally as a personal choice without knowing there is some sort of plan afoot. To me it sounds unlikely. The following day we see Margaret acting perfectly naturally around Hero as if nothing has happened. Admittedly the serving classes were held to a different standard of behaviour than the higher classes, but still it doesn’t sit well. It’s possible that the relationship between Borachio and Margaret was such that Margaret would go along with a suggestion of his without requiring and explanation, but to me it’s more plausible that Margaret had some knowledge of the scheme, if not all of it. We know she is a good judge of character and situations so I just can’t make myself beleive that she wouldn’t notice something was up here.
I think there’s further evidence to support this argument in later scenes but I’ll mention that in a future post.
I’ve written about urban sketching previously (urban sketching post). It’s been one of the most successful New Year’s Resolutions I’ve ever made. Even in the present climate it provides a way to relate to your surroundings and and other people without requiring any compromise in personal safety. Traditionally urban sketching involves drawing the whole scene in front of you to capture the moment: people, structures, vehicles, weather etc, but in my own sketches I find I tend to focus on one thing or another. When out and about sketching I usually categorise my sketching into two groups: people sketches and architectural sketches, both require completely different approaches, skills consequently they are suited to completely different situations.
Speed People Sketching
These are sketches I often refer to as coffee shop sketches as that’s my main venue. With these my aim is always to capture a persons posture, movement or attitude as quickly as possible. Sometimes furtively so they don’t notice me staring at them and sometimes in seconds as they are walking past the window. The practice leaves no time for hesitation or perfectionism and the results are fun little moments. I always keep a small sketchbook with me with a couple of pens; pencil is no good as its tempting to try and “correct” things resulting in missing the moment or removing the essence of the sketch.
Stationary people are simpler to sketch, people on phones, reading or eating, whereas passers by provide the challenge of movement and a maximum of 20 seconds before they’re out of sight. Admittedly some of the results are unidentifiable as people but it can be endlessly entertaining. You never really know how much you can do in those short seconds until you try, and as with everything you improve the more you practice.
Architectural Urban Sketching
Architectural sketches in many ways are the easier of the two. Firstly buildings don’t move giving you all the time you need, secondly they usually involve a lot of straight lines and follow very clear rules about perspective giving you some leeway in observation and thirdly you don’t tend to offend anyone if its not a great likeness or unflattering. For a good few years this type of sketch has been my preference enjoying the lack of time constraint and clearly identifiable results sometimes with sketching groups and sometimes alone. I also enjoy the way it forms a travel journal of the places I’ve been and seen.
With the current restrictions a lot of our normal meet-ups and live urban sketching has gone online and we have utilised google street view all over the world seeing places and buildings we have never seen before and still maintaining that human connection through zoom and group pages. In additions my urban sketching group have began a weekly perspective challenge based on personal photos with the intention of developing or skill with understanding and representing perspective in the image we see.
It’s not the same as real life urban sketching, it suffers from the same problem as drawing from pictures. The screen image has already been converted to a 2D representation, bypassing the need for you brain to do the job of understanding the 3 dimensions and sense of depth and space, but it still provides useful and enjoyable practice.