It is Benedick who has the Most Power in his Relationship with Beatrice. Do you Agree?
Beatrice and Benedicks relationship is based on mutual respect, devotion and true admiration. However, the affection that emerged between the two characters was not a result of a traditional love story, but rather a merry war of wits. It is interesting, therefore, to discuss who has the power in such a relationship. According to historical context, the man should have the control; but Beatrice is no conventional woman, she lives to be an authoritarian and to defy the patriarchal expectations that existed in Elizabethan societies.
It could be argued that Benedick does have the power in his relationship with Beatrice. We can see this through a variety of techniques used by Shakespeare. Benedick is a womaniser and thinks that all women like him. A literary device in the form of non-sequitur is used where Benedick states unsupported opinions. He claims that It is certain I am loved of all ladies, except you, which implies that he wants to be loved by her. This reveals his vain and his arrogant side he thinks he can get whatever he wants. His arrogance, hence, gives us the impression that he has the power in this relationship as he thinks that he can get whatever he wants and, although stubborn, will never step down from his desires.
Secondly, the male-dominant society during the Elizabethan permitted Benedick to have the most power in his relationship. Whilst Beatrice has to overcome the sex barrier and has to conquer female stereotypes, Benedick has an easy task of leading the relationship with no prevailing obstacles. He is a Lord and soldier and was expected to be the leader in his relationship with no obvious opposition. Benedick is a born leader which explains his position as a soldier and Lord. He has ability for quick retorts and can deflate pomposity very easily. He can, thus, cope with anyone and take control in any situation. His leadership skills are superior and the fact that he is worried about being made a cuckold will make his desire to control his love life greater.
In language, Shakespeare uses prose for the verbal battles between Beatrice and Benedick. When Benedick tells of his love in prose he leaves no doubt about the depth and reality of his feelings. We can infer from this that he takes his relationship extremely seriously and would not allow anything to go wrong, again expressing his desire to take control of the bond between himself and Beatrice. His fear that something may go wrong can be inferred when Beatrice claims I know you of old. This could mean that they have had a relationship in the past which had not ended well. Benedick never wants a similar event to occur and his fear eventually leads him to bachelorhood. When he does get back together with Beatrice, he will ensure that he takes control and that he has the power in the relationship. This is why Benedick has the power in his relationship with Beatrice.
Some may argue that it is Beatrice who has the power in her relationship with Benedick. She is constantly starting arguments with him and uses them as an excuse to talk to him. She started conversations with him very often, allowing the reader to decipher that she liked him more than he liked her. Beatrice, therefore, would take charge of the relationship as she would be more interested in it. She is also willing to overcome the typical stereotype of women to lead the relationship between herself and Benedick to ensure that it is a long lasting healthy one. Although she appears hardened and sharp, Beatrice is, in fact, vulnerable. Once she overhears Hero describing that Benedick is in love with her, she opens herself to the sensitivities and weaknesses of love. She remains, however, a strong-willed character who wants to have power in the relationship.
Beatrice is extremely good at manipulating men. In the wedding scene, for example, she manages to convince Benedick to kill his best friend. Whilst speaking in prose, she possessed a commanding nature and did not give Benedick a chance to speak. The words built up inside him, but he knew he had to give up for his lover as she was more dominating more authoritative and had more power. Benedick is one of the most melodramatic characters in the play, as he constantly performs for the benefit of others. He is the entertainer, incapable of leading a serious relationship where female dexterity is evidently needed. Beatrice is a prime example of one of Shakespeares strong female characters. She refuses to marry because she has not discovered the perfect, equal partner and because she is unwilling to eschew her liberty and submit to the will of a controlling husband. When she does, however, find the right qualities in Benedick; she still refuses to allow him to control her.
In addition, Beatrice is able to insult Benedick dearly without being embarrassed at all. At the end of their first quarrel, he calls her a rare parrot-teacher, implying that she repeats words over and over again only for Beatrice to come back with a pun on the idea of birds as talkative and beasts as dumb. This gives us the impression that Beatrice is wittier than Benedick - after all, insulting someone isnt clever, it's much harder to turn someone elses words back upon them. It also implies something about the position of women in this society they can be witty, stylish and clever, but they are always on the back foot. She also has the ability to end arguments which proves she is in control and has more power in the relationship.
In my opinion, Beatrice has more power than Benedick in their relationship. Not only did she start the merry of war of wits but she also refuses Benedick to take control of her and to take advantage of her. She strives to overcome the disadvantages she suffers due to the subordination of women and male privileges, and does so successfully. I personally believe that Benedick does not understand the full concept of love whereas Beatrice is more aware and has been hurt by it before. Although my views contain a great deal of controversy when regarding the historical context of Shakespeares era; there can be no doubt at this point that Benedick has switched his allegiances entirely over to Beatrice, as she has more power in their relationship.