Constable Dogberry and Mercury
Shakespeare’s Constable Dogberry enters in the Third Act of Much Ado About Nothing. The bumbling constable is a comic masterpiece of law enforcement that somehow, pulls it off and saves the day.
You have: I knew it would be your answer. Well, for your favor, sir, why, give God thanks, and make no boast of it, and for your writing and reading, let that appear when there is no need of such vanity. You are thought here to be the most senseless and fit man for the constable of the watch; therefore bear you the lanthorn. This is your charge: you shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are to bid any man stand, in the Prince’s name.
His misuse of the language, twisted meaning, possibly the original ironic cop, it’s a perfectly acceptable Mercury Retrograde image.
While I’ve seen a number of versions of the play, to this day, the movie version that had Michael Keeton, fresh from his role as Beetlejuice, standing in either the same – or very similar – type casting and acting, just perfect. Sets a standard against which I judge all other Dogberry actors, now.
There’s a serious-comic sense to it, and the madness seems apparent. Not uncommon in Shakespeare’s canon, the Fool plays the most important point, always telling the truth.
The totality of Dogberry’s discourse is such a excellent example of how Mercury in Retrograde plays out – so wrong and yet? So right.
Come, bring away the plaintiffs. By this time our sexton hath reform’d Signior Leonato of the matter; and, masters, do not forget to specify, when time and place shall serve, that I am an ass. 5.1.166