Well-intentioned and honorable.
Scheming and untrustworthy
Which is closer to your view of Don Pedro? Support your answer with details from Shakespeare’s writing.
Throughout the play of Much Ado About Nothing, Don Pedro comes across as a well-intentioned and honorable character- as a prince and inherently part of the upper bourgeoisie, it is only natural that he commands respect and is viewed as honorable.
As Don Pedro goes about trying to help Claudio, he is portrayed as more of a well-intentioned friend than a royal dictator. He graciously agrees to help Claudio win Hero’s hand in marriage: ‘If thoust love fair Hero, cherish it/ And I will break with her father,’ although it is not his duty to do so. He has the good intention of helping his subjects out, and keeps his promise of wooing Hero for Claudio. However, his moves can be interpreted as scheming as he woos Hero in his own name rather than Claudio’s (engaging in deceit and trickery, which is central to the play’s plot) and it is later on mistaken that he has wooed for himself. This, however, was just a product of subterfuge derived by Don John; Don Pedro gives Hero’s hand to Claudio and blesses him.
Also, the way Don Pedro and Claudio dealt with the marriage proposal could have been rather incongruous to a modern audience, and hence cast shadows of doubt on Don Pedro’s honor as he objectifies Hero and ‘obtains’ her as if she is a prize to be given away. He declares ‘Fair Hero is won!’ However, this is the norm in Elizabethan society as women are, in essence, ‘owned’ by men, whether it is their father or their husband. Don Pedro’s intention was not to trick Hero or reify her but rather to join his good Count with this ideal woman in holy matrimony, demonstrating his true good intentions and integrity.
Don Pedro then has a similar role in the gulling of Beatrice and Benedick: “I will in the interim undertake one of Hercules’ labors, which is, to bring Signor Benedick and Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection.’ He is well-intentioned in that he has heard Beatrice’s plea of ‘Heigh ho for a husband’, and is now giving his best effort in helping her to a good husband. He is willing to undertake ‘Hercules’ labors’- an impossible task, for the sake of his friends. Here, the use of emotive language clearly shows how strongly he believes in his cause: this is not an act of deceit but of well-intentioned love. An Elizabethan audience also could not help but notice that Don Pedro speaks in prose, and not verse as expected of a noble- indicating that he is unpretentious and truly means well. Rather than disguising his feelings and complicating his words with the confusing tangle of verse, he conveys sincerity and integrity through the simple words of prose.
Later on, as Don Pedro and Claudio have wronged Hero and falsely accused her of infidelity, Don Pedro’s honor is questioned as he participated in Hero’s calumniation. However, this is not representative of his character because this was due to Don John’s trickery. Upon realizing his mistake, however, Don Pedro admits his wrongdoing and apologizes sincerely- reflecting his integrity and morality, as well as his willingness to repent.
Don Pedro, in my view, is a well-intentioned character that upholds the value of honesty. He isa human, after all (to err is to be human), and had his share of mistakes in the play but makes up for it in his strength of character.