Much Ado About Nothing

Beards Symbol Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Beards Symbol Icon
Beards are a complicated symbol of masculinity in Much Ado About Nothing. Benedick’s beard symbolizes his rugged bachelorhood, while Claudio’s clean-shaven face indicates his “softness,” and vulnerability—Benedick at one point calls him “Lord Lack-beard.” Beatrice’s dislike of beards symbolically stands for her resistance to men in general. Much Ado connects beardlessness with falling in love: the first thing Benedick does when he falls in love with Beatrice is to shave. Altogether, the connection between beards, love and masculinity in the play seem to suggest that falling in love, for a man, comes with the risk of losing one’s masculinity—as represented by the beard.

Beards Quotes in Much Ado About Nothing

The Much Ado About Nothing quotes below all refer to the symbol of Beards. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Much Ado About Nothing published in 1995.
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

“He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me; and he that is less than a man, I am not for him.”

Related Characters: Beatrice (speaker)
Related Symbols: Beards
Page Number: 2.1.36-39
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

“Well, every one can master a grief but he that has it.”

Related Characters: Benedick (speaker)
Related Symbols: Beards
Page Number: 3.2.27-28
Explanation and Analysis:

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Beards Symbol Timeline in Much Ado About Nothing

The timeline below shows where the symbol Beards appears in Much Ado About Nothing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 1
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
...she is thankful to God she has no husband, in some part because she hates beards. When Leonato advises her to find a beardless husband, she suggests that such a husband... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Language, Perception and Reality Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
...unworthy of her. Benedick, listening in, concludes that it must be true—someone as old and bearded as Leonato, the Governor of Messina, would never participate in a childish trick. Benedick quickly... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
...tease him for having fallen in love. They point out that he has shaved his beard, rubbed himself with civet (a form of musk or perfume), and has begun to dress... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
...him about Beatrice’s love. Paying no attention to this, Benedick leaves, promising to meet “Lord Lackbeard,” (5.1.192) later in combat. As he goes, he mentions that Don John has fled from... (full context)