This is the powerpoint which will be the basis for a screencast as part of the Yr 11 revision process. I have posted it whilst I prepare the script.
The driving purpose is to address the imbalance often perceived between the principal pairs. Whilst there is little doubt that Beatrice and Benedick are much, much more fun than Claudio and Hero, the conventions of comedy as established in Greek New Comedy of the 4th Century BC require that the central pair should be relatively stock characters. I have tried to explore the purpose of Claudio as the innocent young male led down a “dark” path by the sinister Don John (hence the Darth Vader quotation) in order to cause pain to his equally innocent young wife-to-be, Hero. She, according to convention, needs to suffer until a time when her wrongs are revealed to the whole company in order that the Hero can repent and the pair can be reunited. Thus Comedy as a genre is not solely about laughter, but has a form and a structure which is here observed.
Shakespeare is able to add the subplot of Beatrice and Benedick discovering their true identities as they recognize their love for one another as well as including an element which will become the cornerstone of many comic plots on into the 18th century – the idea of the upper classes being taught about fairness and truth by the lower. This is no Marriage of Figaro, but the manner of Claudio and Don Pedro’s fall from grace is sharp and is accentuated by their arrogance in the previous scene when approached by Leonato and Antonio.
Thus we see a traditional comic plot line, with added complexity in the sub plot (with a character surely displaying all the strength of character of the reigning queen, but who relies on the lower classes in order to achieve clarity), and the beginning of social criticism as the social climber (Leonato) and the higher classes are brought to realise their folly by Dogberry and his merry men.