Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing" added many visual details to the text of the play. One of these appeared to be a prior sexual relationship between Beatrice and Benedick. However, it's not exactly easy to follow the dialog. Was this a correct interpretation of events? If so, was this at all referenced in Shakespeare's dialog, or was this an extrapolation by Whedon?
From the text:
Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.
Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave him use for it, a double heart for his single one: marry, once before he won it of me with false dice, therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.
You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.
So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I should prove the mother of fools.
So, at some point in the past, Benedick told Beatrice he loved her (he lent her his heart). She returned his love ( gave him use for it, a double heart for his single). However, he was not faithful (he won it of me with false dice, i.e. he cheated). Therefore she insults him/keeps him at arms length because of how he treated her.
Now, Whedon presents this as a sexual relationship, possibly a one night stand, during the prelude/opening credits. Given the horror of Hero's assumed loss of virginity, however, this would NOT be the original intent of Shakespeare.
Yeah, my favorite version is the one with Robert Lindsay and Cherie Lunghi from the ‘80’s, followed by the more recent filmed production from the Globe. I’ve always been a little confused about this one, myself. Just from Beatrice’s words, without of the context of the rest of the play, I would agree that maybe that they had a romantic attachment in the past but he “dumped” her or something. But, then, from earlier scenes one is led to believe that Benedict has always held women at arms’ length, never showing more than civility, perhaps, from what he says and what his friends say about him. And then, when he “overhears” of Beatrice’s love for him later he is completely taken aback. If they had some sort of mutual romantic attachment in the past or if he was aware of her being romantically inclined to him in the past, I don’t think he would be as taken aback at the idea that she was in love with him. If she was in love with him once, why not again or still?
I think that many, many years ago when Beatrice was open to love and uncynical she met Benedict and they hit it off, friendship-wise, and maybe he was flirtatious in the courtly-love sense, and noble country bumpkin Beatrice, who maybe was a little sheltered without parental instruction and only her uncle, thought he was serious and fell into full fledged infatuation, her “double heart for his single one”; while clueless Benedick just enjoyed her company, he 16th century friend-zoned her, with a little customary court flirtation thrown in.
So she’s expecting some sort solid attachment to form and it never materializes and he leaves, she realizes it was just empty fliratation, he never took her seriously, maybe she even feels cheated and taken advantage of. Maybe she asks around and finds out that this behavior is par for the course with Benedick. Her feelings sour. So, when next they meet, still before the events of MAAN, she’s verbally cutting and cold. Benedick, totally clueless as to why she’s suddenly hostile, he probably never paid her serious attention in the first place, is paying attention now, and is on the verbal defensive back, thus begins the sparring, and maybe begins or deepens his scorn of women. But underneath it all, maybe even unknown to Beatrice, is still the young girl who fell in love with Benedick, and it’s woken up when she “overheard” of Benedick’s alleged love for her.
Just a thought. A very long thought.