Don Pedro, Claudio and Benedick form a trio; their relationship is defined by the comradeship and loyalty that comes from having just fought on the same side in a war. This also implies a hierarchy: Don Pedro is a Prince and the others owe him respect and deference. He has just promoted Claudio ("Don Pedro has bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio" 1.1.9-11), which indebts Claudio to him. In Act 1 Scene 1 Claudio asks Don Pedro's advice about Hero and seeks his approval of her. This suggests that had Don Pedro not approved of their marriage, it would not have gone ahead. Benedick is a nuisance in this scene: he teases Claudio and prevents any serious conversation. He dominates the discourse, diverting it from Claudio to himself. At line 216 Don Pedro gives in to this, saying "Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of beauty". Claudio follows suit with "And never could maintain his part but in the force of his will", echoing Don Pedro's mocking tone. Benedick is being treated almost like a child who is trying to distract the adults and finally manages to get their attention. Eventually Don Pedro dismisses Benedick by telling him to convey a message to Leonato. Shakespeare arranges this scene to show us that Benedick is distanced from the other men: he claims he will not marry and refuses to take Claudio's intentions seriously. This shows his superior powers of perception; Benedick asks Claudio, "Would you buy her [Hero], that you inquire after her?" (168). Claudio's interest in Hero's wealth (273) makes this remark very pertinent.
Benedick's distance from Don Pedro and Claudio becomes more important as the play goes on. He is loyal to them both: in Act 2 Scene 1 he defends Don Pedro from the charge of having wooed Hero for himself, asking Claudio, "Did you think the Prince would have served you thus?", and later he challenges Don Pedro, saying that he has "stolen" Claudio's "bird's nest". However, in Act 4 scene 1, Benedick's allegiances change entirely. Now in love with Beatrice, Benedick moves to side with her in her defence of Hero. He does not join in with Don Pedro and Claudio's denunciation of Hero, and remains on stage with the family after the young men have exited to ask "How doth the Lady?" (111). He tries to calm Leonato ("Sir, Sir, be patient" 142) and attempts to unravel the confusion by asking Beatrice, "Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?" (146). Benedick then identifies Don John as the villain:
"Friar: There is some strange misprision in the Princes.
This causes Leonato to speak rationally for the first time since Hero was disgraced:
"If they speak but truth of her,
Benedick then advises Leonato to agree with the Friar's proposal that Hero should be concealed as if she were dead, adding that,
"And though you know my inwardness and love
However, after he confesses his love to Beatrice in one of the most moving scenes Shakespeare ever wrote, he is forced to commit wholly to the side of the family. Benedick asks Beatrice exuberantly, "Come, bid me do anything for thee". She seizes the chance simultaneously to avenge Hero and make Benedick prove his love by asking him to kill Claudio. Eventually he promises to do it, and in promising he crosses a line between platonic and sexual love. Benedick's greatest loyalty and obedience are now owed to Beatrice. Even at the end of the play when all is supposedly resolved, Benedick remains hostile to Claudio:
"For my part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but in that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised and love my cousin." (5.4.107-109)
Benedick's relationship with Don Pedro has also changed by the end of the play. In Act 2 Scene 1 Don Pedro proposes to Beatrice, who refuses him. There are several reasons why Shakespeare may have included this incident. Don Pedro is perhaps seeking status by marrying the niece of the Governor of