publisher colophon
Abstract

What sort of thing is judgment? Considering the sense of a human capacity, not the result of exercising it, I offer a definition proposal: "the human capacity to make good decisions about matters for which no calculus yields a definitive or highly probable answer." I discuss how judgment operates, what constitutes good judgment, whether it can be cultivated, and, if so, how. My example is Benedick's deciding to love Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. I argue that Benedick exercises good judgment, thus illuminating the concept of judgment and demonstrating that it is a valuable tool for understanding him.

What sort of thing is judgment?1 Looking at the sense of "judgment" as a human capacity as opposed to the result of exercising that capacity, whether in ordinary behavior or in some legal or political framework, I intend to offer a definition proposal for the term and then to discuss how judgment so defined operates in human behavior, what constitutes good judgment, whether it can be cultivated, and, if so, how. The example I will focus on is drawn from Shakespeare's character Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing as he decides to fall in love with Beatrice. Postulating that Shakespeare is a shrewd analyst of human psychology, I hope to show that his portrayal will illuminate the concept of judgment and, conversely, that the concept is a valuable tool for understanding Benedick.

Let me begin with a formal definition proposal for the term: judgment is the human capacity to make good decisions about matters for which no calculus is available to give a definitive or highly probable answer.2 Suppose, for example, that I am wandering through a forest [End Page 142] and estimating the heights of various trees (with no tools at my disposal). I might be pretty good at my judgments if I have clear eyesight, have practiced estimating heights, etc. In that respect I have much better judgment about tree height than a child who can only say, "That is a really big tree; that is a tiny one." Again, suppose I am auditioning actors to play the part of Benedick. I might be quite good at picking out who will do an excellent job (though in fact I doubt it). While there is no rigorous, systematic procedure for me to make either of these decisions, some people would be better at making them than others, and it would not be hard to identify many of the skills involved in being better at the tasks. Judgment in this sense can bear on all sorts of decisions, but I will focus on our human judgments in social situations, including ethical judgments.

Benedick makes all sorts of such judgments, both good and bad. For example, he predicts that he will not fall in love until he finds an impossibly perfect woman; he later decides that he ought to fall in love with Beatrice; and still later he dissents from his friends' condemnation of Hero as a wanton unworthy of marrying Claudio, choosing to side with Beatrice and the group around Hero in their support of her. Among this array of judgments that Shakespeare portrays, he gives special attention to portraying Benedick's decision to love Beatrice. How and to what extent does that decision manifest judgment in Benedick, and, in general, what does it tell us about the process of making such decisions well or badly?

Before coming back to Benedick, let me ask some general questions about the human capacity of judgment that this investigation may offer some help in answering. Is it a specific human faculty, relatively easy to distinguish from other faculties, like the ability to see distinct colors as opposed to having one or another form of colorblindness? There are clear, objective tests to measure colorblindness, a calculus in the sense of my definition proposal, and no doubt the relevant region or regions of the brain involved could be and probably have been located, so that one could at least in theory study how it operates, making use of objective methods to obtain verifiable results. Might one devise a diagnostic test for judgment based on this kind of systematic analysis, and will we someday identify a judgment module in the cerebrum or some other part of the brain, a physical substrate of the mental faculty?

Furthermore, is judgment an inherited trait, more or less fixed by genetics, though presumably one that develops gradually with maturation? It could be like human height, largely controlled by genetics and [End Page 143] nutrition, rather than like a human capacity to speak English in conversation, which is a skill learned from the environment, though the abilities that enable it are no doubt largely heritable. And, if there is a strong developable aspect to having judgment, like learning English, can one then choose to acquire better judgment in that regard, undertake a process of self-betterment just as a French speaker can decide to learn English or to improve his or her fluency in it?

Though there is no chance of my answering all these questions with finality, let me tip my hand by saying that my approach to an answer is Wittgensteinian. Specifically, I shall suggest that judgment is best seen as a family-resemblance concept. In other words, we identify thinking or behavior as manifesting judgment when it manifests some of a collection of qualities, none of which are sufficient by themselves to constitute judgment and none of which individually disqualify something as good judgment by their absence or paucity.

By way of clarifying this distinction, one can say in contrast that a mother is a female parent. If an animal is both female and a parent, it is a mother; lacking either quality, it is not. Hence "mother" is not a family-resemblance concept. On the other hand, "motherly" is one, in that a whole array of feelings and behaviors would make us likely to call someone motherly, but none of them individually is definitive. If "judgment" is a family-resemblance concept, it has no essence, no quality or set of qualities necessary and sufficient to its presence in a human being, and the boundaries between having and lacking judgment are indefinite: one either is or is not a mother, but one can be more or less motherly.

All the more, then, judgment is not a sharply defined faculty of the human mind, and it would be a fool's errand to seek the module in the brain that produces it since there is no single thing to produce.3 Rather, the term "judgment" is an intellectual tool that we use to try to make sense of how human beings think and act in certain situations. It is not some one thing or sharply defined set of things that we could point to in the mind or the brain. Of course, the intellectual tool is useful because it matches up to some regularities in human behavior, but the matching-up is rough and ready. Not only does judgment operate where there is no calculus to solve all the problems in making a decision but also there is no calculus allowing us to understand judgment itself or to identify it as definitively present or absent. Judging judgment is a judgment call. [End Page 144]

To return to Benedick, he might seem like an odd candidate for manifesting judgment. He does not have the wisdom of years, and, even though we surely dismiss Beatrice's characterization of him as "the prince's jester,"4 he seems to have the reputation of an amateur jokester, which is part of his role in the social group. Thus he can be expected to cheer up Don Pedro and Claudio after their humiliation in their encounter with Leonato and Antonio. A second objection: when he does declare his intention to love Beatrice, in the passage I will focus on, he is acting on the basis of being deceived, as so often happens to everyone in this play.

Still, Benedick surely does choose the right mate for him, despite Leonato's immediate disbelief when Don Pedro proposes the match: "O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week married, they would talk themselves mad" (2.1.325–26). But they are in fact well matched as a couple. Even their names go together in Shakespeare's artful construction, and everyone in the play quickly comes to think of them as suited to each other, just as they do themselves. Their fitness for each other is clear if one tries to imagine the couples switched, with Benedick marrying Hero and Claudio Beatrice. But of course one can stumble into a right decision, as Dogberry and his followers come to a right judgment of Don John's conspiracy despite having no judgment. As Borachio says to Don Pedro and Claudio, "What your wisdoms could not discover, these shallow fools have brought to light" (5.1.223–25).

To arrive at a sense of whether and how judgment operates in Benedick's decision to love Beatrice, even whether anything actually changes in him beyond his opinion of how Beatrice feels toward him, we need to look closely at the speech in which he more or less voices his arrival at a decision. He has just overheard Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato pretending to discuss Beatrice's hidden passion for him:

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 [End Page 145] 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. [Enter Beatrice.] Here comes Beatrice. By this day, she's a fair lady! I do spy some marks of love in her.

(2.3.213–37)

The first thing to notice about this speech is that it is not a sustained argument leading to the conclusion "I therefore decide to love Beatrice." In contrast, for example, when in his novella Rosalynde, Shakespeare's main source for As You Like It, Thomas Lodge wants to portray Saladyne deciding to keep his brother's inheritance for himself, he narrates a systematic process of decision, carefully labeled "Saladynes Meditation with Himselfe," in which Saladyne describes in order the steps he goes through in making his choice: his emotional upset at his small part of the inheritance, his desire for wealth, the argument for not acting, the argument for acting, his decision itself ("Thy Brother is young, keepe him now in awe"), and finally his plan how to proceed:

Saladyne, how art thou disquieted in thy thoughts, & perplexed with a world of restlesse passions, having thy minde troubled with the tenour of thy Fathers testament, and thy heart fiered with the hope of present preferment? by the one, thou art counsaild to content thee with thy fortunes; by the other, perswaded to aspire to higher wealth. Riches (Saladyne) is a great royalty, & there is no sweeter phisick than store. Avicen like a foole forgot in his Aphorismes to say, that golde was the most precious restorative, and that treasure was the most excellent medecine of the minde. Oh Saladyne, what, were thy Fathers precepts breathed into the winde? hast thou so soone forgotten his principles? did he not warne thee from coveting without honor, and climing without vertue? did hee not forbid thee to aime at any action that should not be honourable? and what will bee more prejudiciall to thy credit, than the carelesse ruine of thy brothers welfare? why, shouldst not thou bee the piller of thy brothers prosperitie; and wilt thou become the subversion of their fortunes? is there any sweeter thing than concord, or a more precious Jewel then amity? are you not sons of one Father, siens [scions] of one tree, birds of one nest? and wilt thou become so unnaturall as to rob them, whome thou shouldst relieve? No Saladyne, intreate them with favours, and intertaine them with love; so shalt thou have thy conscience cleare and thy renowne excellent. Tush, what words are these, base foole? farre unfit (if thou be wise) for thy humour. What though thy Father at his death talked of many [End Page 146] frivolous matters, as one that doated for age, and raved in his sicknesse: shal his words be axioms, and his talke be so authentical, that thou wilt (to observe them) prejudice thy selfe? No no Saladyne, sick mens wills that are parole [only words], and have neither hand nor seale, are like the lawes of a Citie written in dust; which are broken with the blast of everie winde. What man, thy Father is dead, and hee can neither helpe thy fortunes, nor measure thy actions: therefore burie his words with his carkasse, and bee wise for thy selfe. What, tis not so olde as true:

Non sapit, qui sibi non sapit. [He is not wise who is not wise for himself.] Thy Brother is young, keepe him now in awe, make him not check mate with thy selfe: for

Nimia familiaritas contemptum parit. [Too much familiarity breeds contempt.]

Let him knowe little, so shall he not be able to execute much; suppresse his wittes with a base estate, and though hee be a Gentleman by nature yet forme him anew, and make him a peasant by nourture: so shalt thou keepe him as a slave, and raign thy selfe sole Lord over al thy Fathers possessions. As for Fernandyne thy middle brother he is a scholer, and hath no minde but on Aristotle; let him reade on Galen while thou riflest with gold, and pore on his booke til thou doost purchase lands: wit is great wealth, if hee have learning it is enough; and so let all rest.5

There is no reason to think that Lodge is trying to give a realistic picture of Saladyne's thought process, the steps by which he arrives at his intent. This set piece takes the form of an analytical model of Saladyne's decision process, beginning with the two motives clashing for control of his actions, his rational mind responding to his father's command and his heart attracted to wealth. The soliloquy goes on to offer a systematic outline of the parts in his decision making. Lodge's euphuistic prose makes no pretense of suggesting how an inner thought process might go, what words might flash through his mind and what feelings are swaying him. It is, rather, as though Saladyne has two voices in his ear, like the devil and angel that vie to control the choice of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. Lodge has fun with the paradox that a character who is choosing to assert the primacy of his self listens to two voices that are less parts of him than vehicles shaped to suit the messages they bear. The one that wins sums up its case in a familiar Latin tag: "He is not wise who is not wise for himself," as Bullough translates it,6 though its sense can also suggest ironically the value of a deeper kind of self-knowledge that Saladyne himself lacks.

Shakespeare's speech, on the other hand, aims to be much closer to the moment-to-moment flow of Benedick's thoughts and impulses, [End Page 147] setting forth no systematic framework of motives and arguments. Hence Benedick's soliloquy shows none of the orderly pattern of weighing pros and cons, making a decision, and implementing it that gives shape to Saladyne's. Benedick starts by seeming to jump to a conclusion about what he has just eavesdropped on, reasserting his previous inferences that the overheard conversation cannot be a trick. He is of course wrong, since it is just that, but he shows some caution about his conclusion by immediately seeking further evidence for it, thinking back to the manner of the conversation he has listened to. No doubt he is torn between his habitual skepticism and his eagerness to believe the truth of the fascinating new possibility that Beatrice loves him. And after all, he is not wholly wrong: the overheard group are, of course, feigning, but in a sense they are speaking the truth in spite of themselves. Beatrice is as ready to fall in love with him as he is with her, and the play even suggests that the new love that will shortly emerge has been prepared for by some previous approach between them, broken off, prior to the battle against Don John.7

As it usually does, Benedick's mind moves by jumps and starts as he thinks about the conversation he has just overheard, with a "seem" and "seems" to indicate consciousness of his own process of making fallible inferences from what he has seen and heard. The prose style of this whole speech is characteristic of him: he always thinks and speaks in a series of punch lines, as it were. One might say that witty prose is his tool for thinking as well as for creating his social role as jokester and cynic.

When does he actually decide to be in love with Beatrice? It might seem that the answer comes in his words of response to the delighted discovery of Beatrice's supposed feelings toward him: "Love me? Why, it must be requited." But my question itself is an odd one. Can one take the step of deciding to be in love, since the term implies an ongoing state? Indeed, the other regular term, "falling in love," suggests a process without intention, like catching a cold. One doesn't normally choose to fall. And it is also odd that Benedick puts this avowal in the passive, with no agent named, no specified self to do the loving back. His implied argument is that objective justice demands a passion equal to Beatrice's, a reward for her virtuous act of loving him.

To provide such justice, a volunteer is presumably needed, though Benedick doesn't quite name himself as the volunteer in question. And this appeal to justice sounds more like a habitual inclination in him, a frame of mind, than like a considered rational principle. He follows this habitual impulse because he is glad to be able to feel just, while doing [End Page 148] what he already wants to do; but his desire to do it would no doubt be weakened if the behavior would strike him as obviously unjust. So perhaps this is not the moment of deliberated choice. Maybe the answer to the question of when he decides is, instead, that it comes with the direct assertion "for I will be horribly in love with her." But that utterance is twice qualified, by the undefined future tense "will be" (or is it an expression of intention, like a promise?) and by the comic disparagement of love in the adverb "horribly." Part of him is still dragging its feet in a way that suggests reservations about this self-commitment. When she enters, he does behave rather like a committed lover, as is shown by his eagerness to read love into everything he sees and hears from Beatrice, despite the fact that she is actually still engaging in her merry war against him, as we onlookers can see. Indeed, he shows what Rosalind in As You Like It calls the notes of a true lover, above all when he runs off to find a picture of her.

However, if the real completion of the decision to love, the point of no return, is when he avows it to her, that avowal does not expressly occur until later, when they are left alone after the disgrace of Hero and he utters the words: "I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?" (4.1.267–68). Maybe these words are the performative utterance in J. L. Austin's sense: I take thee, Beatrice, to be my love.8 But even then, Benedick adds the final clause, as though he can look on in rueful amusement, mocking the oddity of his own behavior.

Indeed, no one of these moments is the obvious answer to the question of when he makes his choice. After all, it is arbitrary to pick out one instant as the moment of Benedick's decision to love Beatrice, even though he seems not to be in love at the beginning of the play, clearly is so later, and surely seems at some time to have decided to love her, just as she decides—rather more firmly and quickly—to love him: "Benedick, love on, I will requite thee" (3.1.111). Note how in her declaration her affectionate "thee" contrasts with his more formal "you" in his avowal during act 4, scene 1. Thus she is quicker and more confident in her decision than is Benedick.

At any rate, in his soliloquy in act 2, scene 3, after the semicommitment of "It must be requited," Benedick's mind darts all around the issue, as though he is having to fit this new element of his selfhood into consistency with all that he has been and has affirmed of himself before. Thus he recalls how his friends have, in the overheard staged conversation, condemned him and, in particular, castigated his pride. No doubt this criticism of him has pricked his vanity, but the recollection [End Page 149] quickly leads him to a rather admirable attempt at self-reformation—"I must not seem proud"—which does, of course, take the form of doing what he wants to do anyway: love Beatrice back. His pride, real enough in him, has previously expressed itself in his vow never to marry but to remain the self-sufficient bachelor, unlike such simpletons as Claudio. His witty denunciations of love and marriage have been parts of a self-protective carapace, expressing the safety and self-admiration he feels in his chosen role of the cynic who sees through all the illusions of human idealism and so will not fall into the trap of love and marriage.

As a result, he feels a natural humiliation in reversing course to join the idealistic lovers, but he manufactures a chance for self-congratulation even here, because in reforming he shows himself superior to the sort of human vanity that cannot learn from others' criticism. Then his mind darts away to dwell on attributes in Beatrice that give rational justification for his love, presumably thinking back in order to counter the formidable list of qualities he believed would be needed for him to fall in love.9

At this point, his mind circles back to the obviously central psychological barrier to his loving Beatrice, the fact that he will look like a fool for changing his mind after so many assertions of his eternal bachelor-hood.10 "I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me because I have railed so long upon marriage." No one wants to look silly, least of all one whose vanity centers on his intelligence and quick wit. But the way he puts this consideration demonstrates that by now the obstacle has no weight for him, and he can even take pleasure again in what he considers his moral superiority to the mere intellectual vanity that can be hurt by others' mockery. He obviously enjoys wittily composing the array of rationalizations he can come up with for changing his mind. Only Benedick (and the Wife of Bath) would offer as a justification for erotic passion the divine injunction to wax and multiply: "No, the world must be peopled."

The high good spirits that flood through him at falling in love free his ingenuity to create an explosion of ingenious fake arguments, climaxing in the deft rhetoric of his self-mocking period: "When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married." And then, when Beatrice walks in, he immediately becomes the imagination-addled lover that Theseus laughs at in A Midsummer Night's Dream. His wit becomes the servant of his passion as it manages to invert the meaning of the speeches by Beatrice that he recalls with such word-for-word accuracy, but for once he is not conscious of his own perverse ingenuity. [End Page 150]

So what conclusions can we draw about Benedick's process of decision making, and in particular about whether and how it manifests judgment? Clearly there is no step-by-step internal judicial process going on in him, systematically weighing the pros and cons of loving and then announcing a verdict. His soliloquy is nothing like Saladyne's meditation. We see instead a jumble of motives, arguments, conflicting feelings, recollections of evidence, eager clutching at thoughts that support his impulse.

The process of Benedick's deciding to love is more like the process of shopping for a new dress or sports jacket than like conducting a formal debate in the mind that leads to a judicial verdict by the judge Reason. When in our shopping expeditions we choose the dress or jacket that we will buy, we may observe carefully, gathering facts about how the colors look with our coloring and in different lighting, how the lines of the garment hang on us, what the price is, etc. We may ask for others' opinions, hesitate, think of other clothes we own, study the information on the tag, including the price. And at some point we choose, though the decision may not be final, at least until we hand over the cash or sign the credit card slip, if even then. After all, most of us have no calculus for choosing the right dress or jacket, just an untidy, stop-and-go inner process, and yet some of us do the choosing well, others badly, even as evaluated by our own later judgment ("Why did I ever buy that ugly jacket?").

Decisions for us human beings in which judgment is an important factor very often have these qualities of Benedick's determining to love Beatrice as Shakespeare portrays it: they are indefinite, even chaotic in their lack of system, dependent on rules of thumb rather than rationally based on general, ironclad, and wholly articulated principles. In the processes of decision, advice from others can be important for correcting one's biases and lack of information, but no one can be excellent in judgment who cannot see beyond what others think and feel and so is careful to treat their advice with caution.

Above all, given human fallibility, there is no good judgment without the capacity for self-correction, for changing course to steer closer to the best outcome possible given all the complexities and ambiguities of the situation. But at the same time, the capacity for good judgment can be cultivated. Our parents train us (or try to) to become good shoppers and in general to be wise judges in the business of living, and the process of living and learning from others and from experience helps us to acquire and refine the qualities that are parts of the family [End Page 151] constituting good judgment for the various parts of our existence. We can even make a deliberate choice to cultivate some of those qualities.

Does Benedick exercise good judgment in choosing to love Beatrice? We see that he is swayed by emotions: by his erotic desire for Beatrice, by his pleasure in the ongoing battle of wits with her, by his intellectual vanity and especially his pride in rising superior to the illusions of his companions. But then emotions are relevant to the choices in love: they are part of the landscape within which the loving relationship has its beginnings and will develop and mature (or not) over time. Benedick takes pleasure in Beatrice, falls in love with her, precisely because they are matched in wittiness, poise, emancipation from convention, youthful attractiveness, and self-protective and self-confident pride; even their differences are complementary. They are both the two halves of Aristophanes's fable in Plato's Symposium and two jigsaw pieces that fit together in their difference, potentially a husband and wife. At this time of decision Benedick comes to see their natures fitting together, as his mind flashes back over the pleasures and annoyances of all their past encounters.

Benedick has many of the inner qualities of a good judge. Thus he is a quick and precise observer whenever we see him, as a wit and jokester must be. That trait is perhaps why Shakespeare is careful not to have him present when Claudio and the Prince fall for Don John and Borachio's ruse of substituting Margaret for Hero, because Benedick would be likely to see through it. When he and the others consider the charges against Hero at the interrupted wedding, he is, unlike them, quick to inquire about the surrounding facts and careful not to jump to believing in her guilt—admittedly, in part because he is eager to come out on Beatrice's side of the issue, but also because he has many of the attributes of a good judge. One thinks of Mr. Knightly in Jane Austen's Emma, who sees through Frank Churchill's deceptions, partly because he has so much judgment and shrewdness, but partly because of his unconscious jealousy, stimulated by Emma's partiality for Frank.

Benedick really is capable of repairing his own mistakes and misjudgments, just as he boasts that he can, and he can laugh at himself, as not all wits are able to do. He is indeed duped into loving Beatrice, yet it is the qualities of judgment in him that allow Don Pedro's scheme to work in pushing Benedick toward the love that is indeed right for him. Dogberry stumbles onto the truth about Don John despite his stupidity, but it is Benedick's good qualities of intelligence and character that allow the trick played on him to work and the love between the two to flower. [End Page 152] He can see that the garment of love shared with Beatrice fits him well, and so he can allow himself to fall in love with it and her.

There is no calculus to guarantee right choices in love, but a family of intellectual and moral qualities contribute to the likelihood of one's choosing right and of correcting one's choices that have gone wrong. And these qualities can be cultivated by one who has the intelligence, flexibility, and good will to seek self-betterment. Benedick has these qualities in great strength and has consciously cultivated them in himself. Thus it is both paradoxical and true to say that he has good judgment in love. This judgment of his manifests itself in a process that is thoroughly untidy—full of mixed motives, impulses not wholly recognized, all under a covering of ingenious rationalization—but also shrewdly observant, guided by generous and self-critical habits of mind, and a willingness to alter course when that seems prudent. If we can generalize from Benedick's falling in love, judgment is a valuable attribute of human intelligence, one well worth cultivating, precisely because it matches the irregular contours of an ambiguous and shifting world.

Robert B. Pierce
Oberlin College

Footnotes

1. As my title suggests, I am consciously imitating the approach of Julia Reinhard Lupton, Thinking with Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), though with different interests and methods.

2. Donald Davidson argues persuasively that, for decisions involving reasons for doing something, "there is no hope of refining the simple pattern of explanation into such a calculus," that is, a quantitative tool ("Psychology as Philosophy," in Essays on Actions and Events [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980], p. 233). His principle suggests that all the kinds of decisions I am talking about cannot by their nature be so analyzed. I will not be concerned with the criteria by which one decides whether a decision is good, which, of course, vary according to the kind of judgment. In the first example that follows in the text, the criterion is straightforward: how close is my estimate of the tree's height to the actual height as determined by precise measurement? Whether Benedick exercises good judgment in choosing to love Beatrice and ultimately to marry her involves multiple and highly debatable criteria. No doubt most of us would more or less agree in our opinion, on the basis of fairly similar criteria, and no doubt we could talk rationally about our judgments. [End Page 153]

3. This point seems to me to attack a common fallacy in analyzing purported human faculties, perhaps including altruism and being warlike, favorite topics of evolutionary ethics. The distinction between discursive and intuitive reason, familiar from Aristotle and Aquinas in particular, would seem to point to the latter as what I am talking about, but intuitive reason is typically thought of as infallible, and both concepts define sharply distinguishable faculties, in contrast with the "judgment" I am discussing. For an application of these traditional concepts to Shakespeare, see Benjamin G. Lockwood Jr., "Symbolism of the Senses: Discursive and Intuitive Reason in Much Ado and Lear," Ben Jonson Journal 18 (2011): 212–32. In "Problems of Knowing," Shakespeare's Comedies: Explorations in Form (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972), pp. 154–74, Ralph Berry thoughtfully explores attempts at "the correct assessment of truth" (pp. 158–59) as the main theme of Much Ado. He says of Beatrice and Benedick, "As it happens, both have excellent intuitive judgment" (p. 160).

4. William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, ed. Claire McEchern, 3rd Arden Shakespeare (London: Thompson Learning, 2006), 2.1.125. All subsequent quotations of the play are from this edition; references are to act, scene, and line.

5. Thomas Lodge, "Rosalynde," in Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, vol. 2, ed. Geoffrey Bullough (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), pp. 165–66.

6. Bullough, Narrative, p. 166n.

7. See Beatrice's cryptic speech at 2.1.255–58. Joss Whedon's recent film based on the play shows them as having had a sexually consummated relationship in the past, I think implausibly for Shakespeare's script, not only because the atmosphere of alcoholic and sexual freedom in the film makes nonsense of everyone's reaction to Hero's alleged fall but also because Benedick in this soliloquy seems to believe in Beatrice's unbreached virtue, as does everyone else.

8. J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962).

9. His earlier list constitutes what folklorists call a locution for never, naming an impossibility, since no real woman will be able to match up to the criteria he lists. When Shakespearian characters utter a locution for "never," they are likely to find the impossible event happening, as All's Well's Bertram, like Benedick, discovers.

10. Ann Pellegrini takes more seriously than do I both Beatrice's and Benedick's initial resistance to marriage, so that they "find themselves ensnared in the marriage plottings of a larger social world that would teach them the value of the marriage bed" ("Closing Ranks, Keeping Company: Marriage Plots and the Will to be Single in Much Ado About Nothing," in Shakesqueer: A Queer Companion to the Complete Works of Shakespeare, ed. Madhavi Menon [Duke University Press, 2011], p. 251). Kate of The Taming of the Shrew strikes me as a more plausible candidate for a deep-seated resistance to the compulsory heterosexual norm of marriage than either Benedick or Beatrice. [End Page 154]

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
142-154
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-20
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.