Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado about Nothing Title Much Ado About Nothing illustrates a kind of deliberately puzzling title that seems to have been popular in the late 1590s (ex "As You Like It"). Indeed, the play is about nothing; it follows the relationships of Claudio and Hero (which is constantly hampered by plots to disrupt it), and in the end, the play culminates in the two other main characters falling in love (Beatrice and Bena*censored*), which, because it was an event that was quite predictable, proves to be "much ado about nothing". The pronunciation of the word "nothing" would, in the late 16th Century, have been "noting," and so the title also apparently suggests a pun on the word, "noting," and on the use of the word "note" as an expression of music. In Act two, scene two ,Balthasar is encouraged to sing, but declines, saying, "note this before my notes; there?s not a note of mine that?s worth the noting." (53-54) However, Don Pedro retorts, "Note notes, forsooth, and nothing," playing on Balthasar?s words, and also demanding that he pay attention to his music and nothing else. In addition, much of the play is dedicated to people "noting" (or observing) the actions of others (such as the trick played on Beatrice and Bene*censored* by Leonato, Hero and Claudio); they often observe and overhear one another, and consequently make a great deal out of very little. Author The political and cultural events of the 15 century had a large influence on Shakespeare?s work. In Much Ado About Nothing, Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon, Don John, his brother, Borachio his servant, Bene*censored*, a young lord, and Claudio his best friend are all returning from war, and have been invited to stay with Leonato for a month. Shakespeare's antagonist Don John, bears much resemblance to Don John of Austria, the illegitimate son of Charles V, half-brother to the King of Aragon who defeated the Turks at Lepanto and returned to Messina after his victory in October of 1571. Don John of Austria had many of the qualities that Shakespeare's Don John did, he was not on good terms with his brother, and although he tried with much effort to gain status, he was frequently humiliated in attempts to bring himself fame. Shakespeare was known to draw parallels between his characters and actual historical figures, in an attempt to produce a sort abstract history of the times (ex Henry V). Also at that time, Europe was going through the renaissance, with Italy at it?s center. Everywhere else in Europe, Italy was considered to be very high class. This attitude is reflected in Shakespeare?s plays. For example, in Much Ado About Nothing, many f the characters have Italian names (Borachio, Claudio, etc.). This is also true of some of Shakespeare?s others plays such as The Taming of the Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet. Major Themes One of the major themes in Much Ado About Nothing centers around the question and battle between deception and reality. One first notices of the image of deception as we witness the masking and unmasking at the masquerade. In the play, most overhear discussions are deceptions. It is through eavesdropping that we see the true battle between deception and reality as we look at the subplots of Bene*censored* and Beatrice, Hero and Claudio, as well as the comedy of Dogberry and his crew. The relationship between Bene*censored* and Beatrice is one manufactured completely through deception on the behalf of their friends. Though the plot to unite them was planned, many of the problems that arose were because of things that were overheard accidentally or on purpose. In Act II, Scene 3 Bene*censored* is deceived into thinking that Beatrice loves him because of the speech in the garden between Leonato, Claudio, and Don Pedro. Beatrice is sent to fetch Bene*censored* for dinner, and Bene*censored* notes "some marks of love in her[Beatrice]," (240-241) and he decides to take pity upon her and return her love. In Act III, Scene 1 Beatrice is deceived as she overhears Hero and Ursula talk of Bene*censored*'s affection for her. Beatrice then decides to allow herself to be tamed by Bene*censored*'s "loving hand," and return his love. Beatrice and Bene*censored* are made to fall in love through the deception of those around them, and ironically find happiness more readily than Claudio and Hero. The