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Much Ado About Nothing

In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.
Much Ado About Nothing (1.1.256)

This proverbial line claims that even the person most resistant to Love's arrow will eventually succumb and bear the yoke of matrimony. Here, Don Pedro predicts that the fierce woman-hater Benedick will one day be Cupid's victim. Benedick had earlier attacked marriage by saying he would never thrust his neck into a yoke.


This image of Cupid yoking an ox informs our reading of Shakespeare's language on many levels. First, it simply shows us a "yoke," an object which might be unfamiliar to modern readers. It also provides us with a visual representation of Cupid, the Roman god of love. But beyond these functions, this image helps us to visualize Shakespeare's figurative language. Not only does it show us a "savage bull" bearing a yoke, but the inclusion of Cupid suggests that this is a yoke of love or marriage. When we put together this text and this image, we can see what Shakespeare means.

Philipp Ayres. Emblemata amatoria. London, 1683 (Detail).

Henry Peacham. Minerva Britanna. London, 1612 (Detail)

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