Is it possible disdain should die while she hath
such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?
Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come
in her presence.”
So exclaims Lady Beatrice to the man who once held her heart only to hand it back to her broken and jaded. From the beginning of the play she spars unmercifully with Benedick, consistently delivering verbal barbs and jabs and always determined never to let him gain the upper hand with her again.
Wary of men in general, and Benedick in particular, Beatrice nevertheless manages to view life with lighthearted good humor. She is fiercely loyal to those she loves and fearless when it comes to protecting her family. Her intelligence and passion are evident in her speech and demeanor, and she is never afraid to speak her mind.
Though she is not the only Shakespearean leading lady to command respect in a male-dominated world, Beatrice remains one of my favorite characters because she manages to deal with both joy and heartache with a remarkable resilience. Add that to the fact that she finally gets her man, and you have one unstoppable woman.
-Vickie Price Taylor