"O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!" Funny how these words come from someone like Claudio and when you try to ponder on the words and look closely on the character of Claudio, you will realize that these lines aptly describe the actions and qualities possessed by Claudio himself. Throughout the story, many instances would show how Claudio reacts hastily to situations that arise without knowing or understanding well enough what is really going on. Most of the time, he acts instantly without really knowing where his actions would lead him or if a situation is really worth his time and attention. He has this tendency to just jump to conclusions and believe everything he hears without even trying to see for himself if what he just found out is true or not. He then starts to do stupid things without him knowing the real situation, which adds trouble to what is a complicated situation already. In addition to this, Claudio can be very short-tempered and impatient when dealing with his life and love dilemmas. At first, you could see him exerting effort to win a woman's heart and the next thing you will know he is giving up and cursing that woman just because of some lousy rumors. If we try to look more closely on the circumstances where Claudio was entangled in, we can get a clearer picture of how he has been a perfect example of "men who dared to do things without really knowing what they were doing."
First, we recall the first time Claudio acknowledges his attraction to sweet Hero. Here, we see him as a man who has fallen deeply in love with Hero. Bene*censored* even thinks of him as a foolish man who is head-over-heels in love with this maiden. From being a valiant soldier, Claudio was instantly transformed into a helpless romantic (Bene*censored* describes it as an oyster) who was willing to do everything just to win the heart of his beloved Hero. He even asks the help of Don Pedro who offers to help him by disguising himself as Claudio and wooing Hero for him. He agrees with the plan and everything "was supposed" to go on smoothly not until misunderstandings caused by false rumors started to arise and complicate things. Moreover, the deception made by Don John even aggravated the situation and revealed the flaw in Claudio. We see him believe immediately the words of Don John without even considering his friendship with Don Pedro or his great love for Hero. He instantly accepts that his friend supposedly betrayed him and he gives up his love for Hero and leaves her to Don Pedro. Earlier, we saw a very different Claudio. He was a man ready to do everything for his beloved, even looking like a fool to his friend (Bene*censored*). Now, he lets go of Hero as if she is not that important to her and he doubts the intention of his own friend (Don Pedro) when in the first place, he gave consent to the plans. This just shows that Claudio has been doing things with uncertainty and he is unsure and even unaware of the actions he is taking. He is acting based on what he feels he should do but then he does not look deeply into things. He does not even have a good judgment of the people around him for he opted to believe Don John's words rather than trust his own friend, Don Pedro.
"Can the world buy such a jewel?…"
"In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on."
(These lines describe how Claudio sees Hero as a very fair maiden. Here, we could say that Claudio is indeed very much in love with Hero.)
"Thus answer I in name of Bene*censored*,
But hear this ill news with the ears of Claudio.
'Tis certain so. The Prince woos for himself.
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love;
Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues.
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell therefore Hero!"
(Here, Claudio doubts Don Pedro's friendship and lets go of Hero. He is unaware that everything he heard was just made up by Don John.)
Moreover, for the second time around, Claudio once again fell for the same trap only this time, the trap was much deeper than the first. After the issue about Don Pedro was cleared, Claudio and Hero finally got into each other's arms. Again, we see Claudio as a man who is madly in love with Hero. He even wants to be married as soon as possible but had to settle for the date that he and Leonato agreed. However, shortly before their marriage, Claudio was again deceived this time by Borachio, whom he thought was Hero's secret lover, and Margaret, who disguised herself as Hero. He was made to believe that Hero was cheating on him and this sent him wild with anger. Again, he instantly believed everything and did not even ask for Hero's explanation instead he immediately condemned and hated her. What is worst is that he humiliated her in public and refused to be married with her in front of everybody and on the very day of the marriage. Any woman would surely feel betrayed and sorrowful in this situation especially when she knows nothing of all the accusations pointed to her.
"There, Leonato, take her back again.
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
She's but the sign and semblance of her honor.
Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
O, what authority and show of truth
Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
Comes not that blood as modest evidence
To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
All you that see her, that she were a maid,
By these exterior shows? But she is none:
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed.
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty."
After the disastrous marriage, a plan was arranged to prove Hero's innocence. Hero "died" and Don John was proven the culprit of all the misunderstandings that took place. On the other hand, Claudio was deeply saddened with the news of Hero's death after she was proven innocent of all the accusations and he asked Leonato for his forgiveness. Leonato forgives him but then he has to take back all the harsh words he had said to Hero and bring back the innocence that she truly owns and marry his niece who he said was "…almost the copy of my child that's dead…". Claudio agrees to do all that Leonato told him to do even marrying Hero's supposed to be "cousin". Here, we would again see how Claudio does things without thinking of it very carefully. He does not realize that getting married to someone he does not even know could be very complicated and could result to failures in their marriage. He was not even sure if he loved this girl and he was willing to live with this girl for the rest of his life. All he knew was that she was a copy of Hero and for him that was all that mattered. This just shows that Claudio's love for Hero is so shallow and that his attraction towards Hero is just on the physical level. He is again making decisions without considering the consequences of his actions.
"Sweet Hero! now thy image doth appear
In the rare semblance that I loved it first."
"Why, then she's mine. Sweet, let me see your face."
(These words uttered by Claudio would show how his feelings for Hero are based on her physical beauty and nothing more.)
With all these things happening, we cannot help but question Claudio's true feelings for Hero. Does he really love Hero or is he just in love with the idea of Hero's modesty and her very pleasing personality? He might consider his actions as an effect of his so-called deep love for Hero but as I see it, his so-called love for Hero instantly vanishes once Hero's personality is put into doubt. If he truly loves Hero, he will not hastily judge and be the first to doubt Hero but instead, would try to understand her and give her a chance to defend herself. He will be the last person to turn against her despite all the rumors and problems. However, it seems that as soon as other people alter his image of Hero, even falsely, he then loses interest at Hero at once. In short, he thinks that all the things he did was for the love of Hero when actually, it could be that not everything he did was for the name of love but more for his own self and satisfaction.
With all these in mind, it can now be affirmed that Claudio, with all his faults and imperfections, is fitting to be considered as one of Shakespeare's "men who did things without knowing what they did…".