In many ways, Beatrice and Benedick subvert the typical Shakespearean relationship. They are introduced immediately with a “skirmish of wit,” between them, in a “merry war.” They are sort-of-friends who like to make fun of each other a lot, and compete over who can be wittier. This seems unsual for a male/female relationship in Shakespeare. It seems that Beatrice is prouder of her intelligence than most female Shakespearean characters, despite it being the reason she will never get a husband. She contrasts Hero, who is polite and charming in a way that seems to suggest more femininity. Hero is sought after by various men because they aren’t threatened by her intelligence.
Benedick, who keeps up with Beatrice’s vituperative tongue, hears a staged conversation that Beatrice is in love with him, and falls for her immediately. Benedick initially claims that he will never love a woman, and never get married. In his immediate change of heart, he falls into a typical Shakespearean trope. However, upon hearing that Beatrice is in love with him, he seems to say that he will love her out of sympathy, as to not hurt her feelings. He decides that it is some kind of disservice to stay a bachelor because “the world must be peopled.” In this way, this relationship proves even more complex. It might suggest Benedick’s genuine compassion for Beatrice that he couldn’t deny her love when he discovers it. It also might suggest that he has always been in love with her, and decided on not getting married because he knew he couldn’t be with her. I think this idea suggests more depth than the typical love-at-first-sight Shakespearean relationship. Beatrice and Benedick have a rapport, and they (maybe secretly) admire each other’s wit and intelligence. On the surface, it seems as though Benedick is being extremely shallow, and deciding to marry Beatrice out of pity, and maybe he is. But I think the implication is that Beatrice have a legitimate foundation for a relationship that they have denying themselves because they felt the other wasn’t interested.