Much Ado About Nothing
The Pronouns “You” and “Thou” in Much Ado About Nothing
Historically, there has been a distinction between the pronouns “thou” (“thee”, “thy”, “thine”) and “ye” (“your”, “you”), which later became “you”. The use of one of these pronouns depended on social and pragmatic factors, including the position in the social ladder or the affectiveness that the speaker wanted to demonstrate (Fowler 1996; Culpeper 2002).
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the use of both pronouns by the main characters of William Shakespeare’s comedy “Much Ado about Nothing”, Beatrice and Benedick, in the first scene of the fourth act. The interpretation of how these characters act and react is influenced by the representation of the play in the homonymous film by Kenneth Branagh (1993). In this scene, Benedick has discovered that Beatrice loves him. Meanwhile, Beatrice is enraged because her cousin has been publicly accused of cheating on her fiancé. Pronouns here are an accurate representation of these feelings.
To begin with, Beatrice addresses Benedick as “you”. However, the choice of this pronoun does not have the same connotations during the whole scene. In the first sentences, the pronoun is used because the female character is of a lower status than him. Some researchers consider this pronoun a mark of dispassion, of lack of emotion (McIntosh 1963; Mulholland 1987, quoted from Culpeper 2002). It is noticeable that she does not use it to be less affective since she confesses her love for him using “you”, but as a way of showing respect towards a superior in the social ladder.
BEATRICE: ‘I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.’ (4.1.300-301)
Nevertheless, immediately after he rejects her request to kill Claudio, the pronoun is used to create distance between them, to be less affective towards him. It can even be considered a way to bribe Benedick to comply with her demand.
BEATRICE: I am gone, though I am here. There is no love in you. Nay, I pray you let me go. (4.1.307-308)
On the contrary, knowing that his feelings are requited, Benedick addresses Beatrice as “thou”, a pronoun that may infer the sense of superiority by the speaker or that may be used to establish distance between both characters, yet this is not his intention. It is evident that Benedick is trying to demonstrate the affectiveness that he feels towards Beatrice, creating a more intimate atmosphere.
BENEDICK: Come, bid me do anything for thee. (4.1. 302)
This attempt of intimacy, however, is futile once Beatrice loses her temper. The last appearances of this pronoun in the scene are expressed with the desperation of a man who has been asked to kill his friend by the woman he loves. He tries to appeal to the love that both of them have confessed to make her reconsider her decision.
BENEDICK: Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee. (4.1. 339)
The insistence of Beatrice in her request provokes a shift from a pronoun to another; Benedick starts to address her as “you”. He agrees to kill Claudio and that resolution turns the situation into a more formal one. The shift of pronoun involves an emotional change of the character, in this case, he is establishing distance between them (Crystal 2003).
BENEDICK: Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero? (4.1. 343-344)
This distinction in the way Benedick addresses Beatrice is reinforced by the use terms of endearment. He begins addressing her as “sweet Beatrice”, which later is substituted by the use of her name due to the desperation of the situation. Another term of endearment, “good Beatrice”, is used to lure her to amend her decision before he decides to address her as “you”.
To conclude, as it can be deduced from this paper, the differences between the pronouns “you” and “thou” in the play “Much Ado about Nothing” are not only related to the social class, but also to the context in which they are used. On the one hand, “you” is used by Beatrice as mark of subordination towards Benedick, although it later establishes distance and formality between both characters. On the other hand, “thou”, which is reinforced by the use of terms of endearment, creates a more intimate setting for both lovers and expresses affectiveness. Address terms here are certainly an important aspect to understand the strong emotions portrayed in this scene.
The Theme of Deceit in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing
Lying, it seems to be a common phenomenon in human’s daily lives. In a recent study made by the University of Massachusetts, it found that 60% of adults can not have a ten minute conversation without lying at least once. The more common lies that are told in present day include “I like your hair today” or “I am leaving in 5 minutes”. In William Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing, a common theme followed is deceit.
Much Ado About Nothing takes place in the late 1500s and follows the story of soldiers going to Leonato’s home in Messina. Some of the soldiers end up falling in love with the women at Messina and all hell breaks loose due to the deceit caused by some of the characters. Most of the lies in the play are more major than the lies that current humans tell on a day to day basis. Although that does not mean that they are not still committed for the same reasons. People in the play and in real life often lie to commit an evil act, to help in their/others love life, or to conceal one’s own feelings. The most noticeable theme in Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing is deceit and is caused for the purpose of evil, love and to conceal one’s feelings, which are also reasons as to why present day humans lie as well.
One of the reasons that causes deceit in the play is for the purpose of evil. The most villainous character in the play is Don John, the illegitimate brother of Don Pedro. Don John devices a scheme to ruin Claudio and Hero’s wedding by having one of his men, Borachio, have sexual intercourse with Margaret on the balcony, and make it appear as if Hero is having an affair with another man. As Borachio takes Margaret to the balcony, Don John tells Claudio, “Go but with me tonight, you shall see her / chamber window entered, even the night before her / wedding day. If you love her then, tomorrow wed / her. But it would better fit your honor to change / your mind” (3.2. 98-102). Don John’s plan works and causes a massive fight at the wedding. This was Don John’s goal all along, to deceive Claudio and do something evil. This example of deceit is used to break apart relationships in an evil way. Similarly, this example of evil in the play can connect to life in general whenever a person lies to spread an untruth about another human being.
Another example on how deciet is used in the play and connects to evil is when Margaret did not come out at the wedding about her sexual experience with Borachio while everyone was slandering Hero’s name. At the wedding when all the accusations were being thrown towards Hero, Claudio said, “What man was he talk’d with you yesternight / Out at your window betwixt twelve and one? / Now, if you are a maid, answer to this” (4.1.82-84). This quote was enough for Margaret to realize that she was the one who was at the balcony at that time with Borachio, and prove that Hero is innocent. Although, Margaret had no intent to stop the accusations against Hero, and instead let her take the blame for an action that she did not commit. This example of evil in the play can connect to life in general whenever a person does not stand up for their actions and lets others take the blame.
As shown, these two examples of deceit were used to spread evil in Messina, and eventually failed. Claudio and Hero got married, Don John was arrested and Margaret’s secret was revealed to everyone. These outcomes show that whenever people lie in the name of evil, they ultimately fail and pay the price for it.
A second reason that causes deceit in the play is for the purpose of love. An example of when this occurs is when Don Pedro devices a plan to get Benedick and Beatrice together by talking loudly about how Beatrice “loves” Benedick, when in reality it is not true. Benedick overhears Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio’s conversation and then says, “They say the lady is fair; ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness. And virtuous; ’tis so, I cannot reprove it. And wise, but for loving me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her” (2.3.220-224). Hero and Ursula also are in the plan and they also talk about how much Benedick “loves” Beatrice. Similar to Benedick, Beatrice overhears Hero and Ursula and proclaims her love to Benedick. This example of deceit in the play is used to get two people together by making up friendly lies about one another. People in the present day do this all the time.
Another example where deceit is used for love is when “a deceased” Hero pretends to be her cousin in order to marry Claudio. After everyone figures out Don John deceived everyone, Claudio regrets his actions and Leonato figures out a way to get Claudio and Hero married whilst giving Hero a proper apology. As Leonato is telling Claudio what his revenge is he states, “Possess the people in Messina here / How innocent she died. And if your love / Can labor ought in sad invention, / Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb / And sing it to her bones. Sing it tonight. / Tomorrow morning come you to my house, / And since you could not be my son-in-law, / Be yet my nephew. My brother hath a daughter, / Almost the copy of my child that’s dead, / And she alone is heir to both of us. / Give her the right you should have given her cousin, / And so dies my revenge” (5.1.274-285). Leonato has now deceived Claudio in order to restore Hero’s good name and to get them both married for good. Claudio follows Leonato’s order and ends in an amazing wedding between the two. Once again this example of deceit in the play is used to get two people together.
As shown, these two examples of deceit were used to spread love in Messina, and succeeded. Benedick and Beatrice got a wedding alongside Claudio and Hero. These outcomes show that whenever people lie in the name of love, they ultimately succeed and live a joyous life.
A third reason that causes deceit in the play is for the purpose of concealing one’s own feelings. An example of when this type of deceit occurs in the play is when Beatrice and Benedick have the battle of wits to conceal their true feelings for each other. The first thing that they say to each other in the play is, Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor / Benedick; Nobody marks you. Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living? Beatrice: Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such / meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick? Courtesy / itself must convert to disdain if you come in her / presence. Benedick: Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am / loved of all ladies, only you excepted. And I would I / could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, / for truly I love none (1.1 105-115). As shown, it appears as if they have no interest in one another due their constant fighting throughout the play. We later learn that these two characters fall in love with just overhearing their affection for one another. There have had to be a foundation of love there for them to reveal their true feelings for one another. Human flirting nowadays is very similar to this example, they often tease each other to mask their true feelings.
Another example of when someone deceives someone else in order to conceal their feelings is when Don Pedro acted as Claudio to get Hero to fall in love with Claudio. Claudio felt too nervous to go and talk to Hero so Don Pedro came up with a plan to get Hero to love Claudio without Claudio having to talk to her. Don Pedro said, “I will assume thy part in some disguise, / And tell fair Hero I am Claudio. / And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heart / And take her hearing prisoner with the force / And strong encounter of my amorous tale / (1.1.295-299). The plan ends up working and Claudio and Hero’s wedding date is placed. This example of deceit is used to allow Claudio to get married to Hero, whilst concealing his shyness towards her. Present day people now have a certain name for that, a wingman.
As shown, these two examples of deceit were used successfully to hide the character’s true feelings. Benedick and Beatrice ended their fake war amongst each other, and Claudio and Hero fell in love despite Claudio’s shyness. These outcomes show that whenever people lie to hide one’s true feelings, they ultimately succeed but it takes them a longer time than to just come out with their feelings earlier.
The most prominent topic in Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing is deceit and is caused with the end goal of malevolence, love, and to hide one’s sentiments, which are likewise reasons in the matter of why people nowadays lie. Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing demonstrates that deceiving someone for the purpose of evil always leads to failure and deceiving someone for the purpose of love mostly leads to success. In the end, deceit is not always the best thing to do, even for the purpose of love, it is always best to tell the truth as unnecessary drama will not have to occur. Remember what the bible told Moses, ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16, English Standard Version).
The Beatrice and Benedick Love Story in Much Ado About Nothing
Throughout Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, Beatrice and Benedick love takes an overwhelming course of ups and downs. In the book the people of Messina are rooting for them to build a relationship and eventually get married but Beatrice and Benedick have personal issues that’s hindering the true love they share for one another. Beatrice has a very sharp tongue and uses sarcasm very often. Benedick is very witty and always making jokes. They are also struggling with their own personal beliefs and past experiences. I know that True love is not easy but it must be fought for. The Beatrice and Benedick love story show how enemies can turn into lovers through a sequence of pride, deception, and fear.
There is nothing more deceiving than an obvious fact. Being deceived can actually make you go into denial about situations. It’s a constant battle with your heart and mind. It is best to go with your mind because your heart is deceitful. Beatrice and Benedick attended a masked ball and Beatrice didn’t know she was dancing with Benedick and she said harsh things about him. After the ball Benedick feelings were hurt. He said “she speaks poniards and every word stabs. If her breath were as terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her; she would infect to the north star.” His feelings of hurt could be interpreted revealing his true feelings about Beatrice. In the beginning of the story Benedick says he really doesn’t love anymore. Beatrice says “I thank God and my cold blood I am of your humor for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.” I took this as they were deceiving themselves into feeling they felt nothing for each other. I believe their relationship was built off deception but it actually strengthen the relationship.
Pride could definitely ruin a relationship and people view about you. Pride can sometimes be viewed as a good think but always a bad thing. Benedick and Beatrice were very prideful in the play. Pride was one of the main things that kept them from forming a bond. Benedick says “But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted.” I interpreted that Benedick is arrogant he feels as if every woman supposed to love him and if you don’t something is wrong with you and I feel as if Beatrice doesn’t like him being prideful it makes her argue with him even more. I know in some cases women like arrogant men because they feel like are popular. Act 3 Scene 1 Beatrice’s cousin Hero has come up with a plan to have a conversation with Ursula so that Beatrice could ease drop because they knew she was around. They were to brag about Benedick and also talk about how Beatrice is so in love with herself that she is incapable of loving anyone else. The solution they hoped to get Beatrice to humble herself and finally confess her true love for Benedick. After the over hearing the conversation Beatrice felt really bad. She said “What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true? Stand I condemned for pride and scorn so much? Contempt, farewell, and maiden pride, adieu! Benedick, love on; I will require thee, Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand.” I see now that Beatrice loved Benedick she just wouldn’t confess it because she was too prideful and felt like she didn’t need anyone. When Beatrice heard the conversation about her being scornful and prideful it made her realize she needed to humble herself. Now she is willing to better herself rather than change which is a good start.
Fear will keep you from meeting the love of your life. Beatrice and Benedick were afraid to love each other. I believe that also played a huge part in their love story. Benedick said “But that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead or hand my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me.” I interpreted that Benedick is afraid that a woman will cheat on him so that is one reason he is not confessing his love for Beatrice because he does not want to look like a fool he would just avoid them. By him avoiding women he pretty much pushing the love of his life farther away. Beatrice is also afraid of love. In the play she says “If he send me no husband, for the which blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and evening. I had rather lie in the woolen.” Beatrice prays every day that God wouldn’t send her a husband I believe that Beatrice pretends to hate marriage and say she will never get married because she is afraid no one will love her. Fear is keeping her from letting her guard down and actually letting someone love her. She would rather be lonely than deal with rejection. Throughout majority of the play all she talks about is how she will never get married and other things she would rather do than fall in love.
Throughout the play we can see that certain issues kept Beatrice and Benedick from confessing their love for one another. By the end of the play, specifically the final scene, they put their issues aside confessed their feelings and got married. Enemies can turn into lovers because enemies are in fact lovers to begin with but pride, deception, and fear can be stumbling blocks before you get to your destination as it was shown in Much Ado About Nothing with Beatrice and Benedick. Often times enemies use hatred to show their love like Beatrice and benedick did in the beginning they could not get along with each other at all. It is important to know that Love does not always come easy. Sometimes you have to put in a lot of work for true love. Beatrice and Benedick had many personal issues to deal with before they were able to love each other.
Much Ado About Nothing: a Modern Play
The Shakespeare Tavern Puts on a Show
The atmosphere, from the first step into the Shakespeare Tavern, feels very much like one from the 17th century. Down the wooden stairs, the staff is dressed in Shakespearean attire and directs the members of the audience to their seats in the old-fashioned area where the play will take place. Guests are able to enjoy a traditional British meal before watching a modernized, audience-interactive version of Much Ado About Nothing, a play written by Shakespeare, but adapted and directed by Laura Cole. While Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship fueled the comedy of the play as expected, each actor had their own personal touch to make their character come alive and be amusing. The play itself, however, was much more modern than I had expected, but included a meticulous, race-blind casting.
Beatrice and Benedick, although supposed to have a “merry war… a skirmish of wit between them” (1.1.50-51) seemed very close to one another from the beginning; Beatrice herself was portrayed as a drunk by constantly holding a glass. Although they did use the same lines from the play itself to contribute to the wit war between both characters, such as “he hath an excellent stomach” (1.1.41-42), they did so while flirting with one another and almost kissed, which serves as a forewarning that they will later fall in love with one another. Subjectively, I believe this takes away from the tricks later played upon them, but it could lead to a positive “ah-ha, I knew it” moment later on for any members of the audience who have yet to read the play. Beatrice, played by Kati Grace Brown, was depicted as an inebriated woman who was constantly drinking, which partially adds to the comedy, but also has the deeper meaning that at the time, women were never courageous enough to be witty, and is, therefore, an explanation for Beatrice’s behavior towards men, feelings about marriage, and overall wit. However, there were certain times, such as when Beatrice was running around trying to hide to listen to Hero and Ursula talking about Benedick’s love for her, when we could see the actors, especially Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Halicks, begin to laugh. Personally, I felt like this made the performance less realistic and make me think “oh right, these are actors, not the actual characters.”
Hero and Claudio showed affection right from the get-go, which answered my own question about their relationship from simply reading the play: did Hero ever actually love Claudio? At the end of their first time being together on stage, it was very clear that they longed to be with one another. Anthony Peeples, playing Claudio, simply made this play as amusing as it was by making his character extremely overdramatic and quirky. Claudio was basically portrayed as a child in a man’s body: he threw tantrums, cried on the floor, and said he was going to kill himself; he even went as far as to take the spoon from a member of the audience to pretend to kill himself after getting jealous from seeing Hero with Don Pedro at the dance. His constant moving around between the stage and the floor where the audience was seated made it an interactive experience for those at the tables, which can either be positive or negative, depending on the experience you are looking for. I would rather watch the play than be a part of it, so seeing it from above was exactly what I needed, but if you are looking for something a little more exciting and entertaining, a front-row table seat might be just what you need. Although Peeples’ portrayal of Claudio was fitting and just what I had imagined Claudio would be like, Hero was very different from what I had envisioned. She was much sassier than what the play makes her out to be; for example, she was constantly talking and gossiping with Margaret and Ursula, loudly defended herself at her wedding when she got up and said “I talked with no man at that hour, my lord” (4.1.85), and did modern, witty gestures, such as snapping her fingers. I had hoped that they would show the scene where Margaret is mistaken for Hero in order to see how they would have played it off using Hero’s dress, since that is what would have been done dure Shakespeare’s time due to Sumptuary Laws, but unfortunately, they did not do so.
In terms of play adaptation, they modernized it quite a bit and had a non-biased racial casting, which was very refreshing to see. The actors made the play feel much more recent by adding in modern behavior such as high fives and snaps. They also changed quotes, such as “piece of… dust” (2.1.48) to make it seem as if she was about to say the known saying “piece of shit” but changed it to “dust” instead and, when Claudio finally marries “Hero’s cousin,” he says he will love and marry her “even if she preferred Pepsi over coke,” a line I am sure was never written by Shakespeare. Although I believe the modernization of the play is fitting for this sort of environment and audience, I thought it took away from the main thematic elements of Much Ado About Nothing and was mainly to get laughter from the guests. It was also very clear that race played no part in the casting, since Leonato and his brother are two difference races, which was very nice to see in today’s world, where race plays less and less of a role in daily life. While Leonato and Antonio are African-American and Caucasian, respectively, their daughters, Hero and Beatrice, are the same race as their fathers, which helped with character identification. Don Pedro and Don Jon are also different races, even though they are step-brothers, which fortifies the race-blind casting.
An overall good, funny play in a very family-friendly, old-fashioned environment, I enjoyed my night and would recommend it to any Shakespeare fan. Although having a vague knowledge of the play beforehand is highly recommended in order to fully understand what is happening, it is not required since the actors play their role very well, allowing for an easy following of the play and for easy character identification.
My Impressions From Much Ado About Nothing Play
The play seen was Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. The producing organizations were Northwest Vista College in association with The Magik Theatre. The show was directed by M. Mellissa Marlowe and was seen at the indoor theatre of Northwest Vista College. The audience wasn’t very large. There was only a handful of people.
Like many of Shakespeare’s comedies, Much Ado About Nothing is a story about love. The story tells of Hero, daughter of Leonato who falls in love with Claudio, one of Don Pedro’s men. It also tells of Beatrice, Hero’s cousin, and Benedick, another of Don Pedro’s men. Hero and Claudio instantly fall for each other and plan on their marriage. Beatrice and Benedick simply cannot stand each other. As the play progresses, Beatrice’s family and Benedick’s friends devise a plan to get Beatrice and Benedick to like each other. It actually ends up working and the two begin to fall in love. The night before Hero and Claudio are to be married, Don John (Don Pedro’s brother) lies to Claudio and Don Pedro and tells that Hero has been unfaithful to Claudio. Claudio and Don Pedro believe him. At the wedding, Claudio breaks Hero’s heart by calling the whole thing off and expressing why. Hero and her family knew it was a lie but Claudio wouldn’t listen. Don John flees town and Hero’s family fakes her death for the sake of her reputation. Eventually the men of the watch catch the men helping Don John and everything is explained to Claudio and Don Pedro. Claudio apologizes to Leonato and Leonato lets Claudio marry his “niece” who is actually Hero. Benedick finally expresses his love to Beatrice and the whole thing ends in love and marriage.
The play was performed on a proscenium stage. The staging of the play was well adapted for such short notice of having to be inside. The actor audience relationship was close considering how close the seats were to the stage. The stage was appropriate for this production because it was a simple production that could honestly be staged anywhere.
The set designers were Todd Deaver and Ty Mylnar. The set was made on short notice of having to be inside and really was only made of three things: a bench, a fountain, and a pole that was to be the tree. The only colors were grey and black. It was a very simplistic set. No parts of the set were changed through the show. The only “special effect” was the branches tape to the pole to let you know it was a tree. While the set was exceptionally bad, it added a whole new level of comedy to the play and was actually quite genius.
The lighting designers were also Todd Deaver and Ty Mylner. The lighting honestly just added the effect to be able to see what was happening. The lighting didn’t create a specific mood or anything because it was a simple constant. The lighting was evenly distributed on stage. The only time lighting changed was when it went dark to show a scene change other than that it remained a simple constant and wasn’t very impressive. The colors didn’t change, the brightness didn’t change, it was simply just there to let the audience see what was happening. Despite being lackluster, the lighting allowed the actors to show how powerful they were. It let them convey the emotions they needed to show and because of that alone I think this lighting was well suited to the play and its actors.
The sound designer was not names but the sound board operator was Cortni Booker. There was pre-show and intermission music. Despite not fitting the time era, it did fit the theme of love. There was also sound during each scene change and it helped enhance the love or in some cases the comedy. The actors were not miked. They simply projected their words. The sound was used effectively. It brought the play to another level. Especially the final song before the curtain call. It made the entire audience laugh and even Nathan Thurman who was playing Don Pedro laughed a bit.
The costume designer was M. Mellissa Marlowe. The time period of the costumes was hard to place. It seemed to have a but of a 1940’s feel from some of the male costumes, but that may have been from lack of tights. The costumes were definitely of an older style and, other than the language, were the only thing to tell time period from. Costumes seemed to simply tell who were related (either by kinship or friendship) and not much else. At one point, everyone had on a mask and despite the conflicts that could have come from using masks, the masks worked very well. The actors could still be heard and understood. Other than Don Pedro’s men removing their coats, the only costume change was when Hero changed into her white wedding dress which obviously shows purity. There was no real noticeable make up on anyone so make up was not really a factor. The costumes did fit the characters. Don Pedro’s men were all in the same attire. The women were all in dresses. Leonato was dressed with dignity. All in all it was well fitted.
The roles of all the actors were well suited. Two actors particularly stood out. Those two were Ty Mylnar who played the role of Benedick and Meredith Bell Alvarez who played Beatrice. These were the two that really stood out and made the show amazing. A third worth mentioning is Todd Deaver who played Dogberry. He was also very on point and bought out the comedy for everyone to understand. The actress playing Hero, Grace Lamberson, seemed very awkward in the beginning and it seemed to break the illusion a bit. However, as the show went on, Grace really broke through and showed that she is a wonderful actress. Her awkwardness in the beginning did not affect anyone else. They all kept the show flowing very nicely. All actors were understandable and were heard. Each voice very well suited each role. Don Pedro, played by Nathan Thurman, had a strong, masculine voice and Hero, Grace Lamberson, had a softer tone to her. Beatrice, played by Meredith Bell Alvarez was strongly spoken as were Angela Hoeffler and Sarah Ross who played Antonia and Margaret respectively. Don John, played by Alex Hoeffler, had a typical “villainous” voice that was low and slow. Each actor voiced their character very well. One specific problem with movement is that Ty Mylnar who played Benedick turned his back to the audience a couple of times and made hearing him a bit more difficult. He was still heard just not as clearly. Again with Ty Mylnar, he had to climb the “tree” and this skill was no walk in the park. The “tree” in this production was a tall, skinny pole. Ty managed to get himself up and down the pole with ease as well as create some wonderful comedy in the process. This added another level to the whole production and clearly made a great impact on the audience. Another actor who had to show strength was Maverick Saenz who played Verges. He managed to wheel in Todd Deaver on a giant wheel barrow and be able to maneuver around stage. This also added some comedy.
This entire production was a joy to watch. Everything was well coordinated. Despite the old English, the actors managed to communicate the story well. The teamwork was very evident. If the actors didn’t work together the entire play would have fallen apart from lack of adaptation to the indoor environment. The production doesn’t seem like it will have any modern day influence other than “do not trust what you’ve heard.” That is simply because it is an old play and if it hasn’t had a major impact yet, it probably will not have one at all. The primary purpose of this production it to show not everything that is heard is true and that before you judge someone get to know them. This fits everywhere in the world especially in he said she said situations. The most valuable part of this production is really the cast. Every role was wonderful and even if there was a stale start they managed to fix it.
A Role Of Rhetoric in Much Ado About Nothing
The Rhetoric of Pathos in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing
Since the times of Ancient Greece, rhetorical appeals and arguments play an integral role in the development of interpersonal opinions and beliefs. The Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle defines in Rhetoric that these rhetorical techniques that one can use in order to sway the beliefs of others consist of three varieties of appeals: logos, ethos, and pathos. Logos appeals to logical reason while ethos appeals to an established credibility that a speaker might already possess. Pathos, on the other hand, addresses emotional states and attempts to persuade the audience to certain actions through inciting the audience into a certain emotional predisposition. Iterations of these forms of rhetorical appeals appear frequently in later literary works that found inspiration in Aristotle’s explanation of these rhetorical devices, particularly in the case of pathos because of the emotional basis of its functions. In his comedy Much Ado About Nothing, the English playwright William Shakespeare employed pathos as a method of reaching out to the audience and driving forward the play’s plot through appeals of pathos between characters on the stage. The complicated romantic relationship between the figures Benedick and Beatrice, for instance, is a rich example of William Shakespeare’s literary usage of rhetorical pathos in the context of his plays to move characters between emotional states and to provide dramatic motivations to their actions. This essay will parse through the pathos present in the interactions and attempts of emotional manipulation between Benedick and Beatrice in order to illustrate how effectively or ineffectively William Shakespeare manifested Aristotle’s rhetorical pathos in intimate interactions between his characters through the comedic setting of Much Ado About Nothing.
Pathos, despite the fact that it would seem to be a rather simple subject involving emotional appeals, which one would assume to be illogical and without much form, possesses on the contrary far greater nuances and argumentative mechanics as Aristotle describes the form in Rhetoric. Pathetic appeal, as it appears in its classical manifestation, must occur in a systematic fashion so that there would be a more likely chance of such an appeal being successful in inspiring an audience to take action in accordance with the desires of the speaker. Aristotle explains that there are three fundamental principles for which one must account in the employment of emotional appeals in formal speech in order to better understand how to successfully execute a rhetorical appeal through pathos. Outside of the political or argumentative contexts, pathos can appear as a plot devise in examples of literature. These sequential three steps of successful appeal through pathos appear extensively in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in the interactions between the figures Benedick and Beatrice throughout the course of the entire play.
One can witness such a systematic utilization of these three fundamental components of a pathetic appeal in Act 2, Scene 3 of Much Ado About Nothing in the scene’s dialogue between Beatrice and Benedick. The first step, as Aristotle communicates in Rhetoric, is for the speaker to establish a specific state of mind that he or she wishes to invoke in the desired audience for an effective emotional appeal. Beatrice goes forth to state to Benedick, “Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.” As far as literary interpretation goes, one could surmise that William Shakespeare’s intent behind writing this statement was for Beatrice to incite an emotional state of shock in Benedick. The complicated romantic interests between Beatrice and Benedick in the course of the play would serve as a motivation for Beatrice to desire to pursue such emotional appeals. The second step, according to Aristotle, is for an individual to enforce the desired state of mind through vivid imagery related to the evoked emotions. Later in the same dialogue, Beatrice states, “Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach, signior: fare you well.” Such poignant imagery and insults toward Benedick possess the effect of reinforcing the state of shock that Beatrice sought to engender in Benedick during their exchange in Act 2, Scene 3. The third step in Aristotle’s principles of how to effectively execute pathos in the intended audience of an act of pathetic speech is for the speaker to address a target, whether explicitly or implicitly, for the audience to select as the recipient of their newly persuaded emotional state. At the end of this dialogue between Beatrice and Benedict in Act 2, Scene 3, Benedict speaks, “If I do not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.” The fact that Beatrice’s appeals manage to succeed in prompting Benedick to think strongly about her suggests that Beatrice successfully executed the incitement of pathos in an interaction with Benedick.
A further example of this pattern of Aristotelian principles of pathetic appeal in action during the course of Much Ado About Nothing occurs in Act 4, Scene 1 in another dialogue between Benedick and Beatrice, although this instance entails turned tables in which Benedick attempts to execute emotional appeals toward Beatrice. In this scene from the play, Benedick states, “I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is not that strange?” Benedick initializes the aforementioned first step of Aristotle’s pathetic principles through suggesting that the state of mind that he wishes to create is one of love. At this point in the dialogue, the love between Benedick and Beatrice had yet to have been explicitly indicated, because of which Benedick must still convince these feelings through emotional appeal. Benedick goes further in this dialogue with Beatrice to say, “I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make him eat it that says I love not you.” The “it” to which Benedick refers in this context is his sword, meaning that he will swear by his sword, a symbol of virility, that he loves Beatrice and that he would force others to feel the wrath of his might if they were to deny that his feelings for Beatrice were legitimate. Such an emotional appeal through imagery executes the second stage of Aristotle’s definition of how to successfully muster pathos in an audience. The vivid imagery of the passion associated with Benedick’s sword, a symbol of both masculinity and violence, demands an emotional response to these illustrative words. Beatrice ultimately responds to these appeals in expressing, “But manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.” Despite the fact that Benedick’s appeals to Beatrice regarding his love for her in an attempt to incite such passions within her were vivid, this quote demonstrates that this specific appeal was unsuccessful and did not fully engage Beatrice in reciprocating such strong emotions toward Benedick. Even if Beatrice might have had Benedick in mind during this pathetic exchange, this emotional appeal was fundamentally unable to move Beatrice to action and therefore was not a successful usage of these rhetorical principles.
Although the interactions between Beatrice and Benedick in the various scenes of Much Ado About Nothing are rife for discussion about various instances of Aristotle’s techniques of pathetic appeal in the context of the play’s interpersonal dynamics, this does not ultimately mean that every instance of incited pathos in the context of Shakespeare’s comedy was intended to be a successful manifestation of Aristotelian rhetoric. This rings true even in the case that these examples of emotional appeals in the text follow the three-step format of how Aristotle defines that one should attempt to execute an emotional appeal in order to effectively achieve the final result of evoking action in the targeted audience through pathos. The problem remains, however, in the discussion of how precisely could one interpret the motivations of an author or even the characters within a text without an explicit clarification of how the author intended for an audience to receive his or her text. For the modern reader, however, we possess all of the facilities in order to attempt to juxtapose various sources with one another so that we may attempt to parse out the meaning and motivations behind various sections of text through how they are formatted and through the impacts that these dialogues have. A closed reading of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing through a juxtaposition with Aristotle’s Rhetoric helps one to develop an understanding of these emotional appeals and how they might have likely arisen in the context of Shakespeare’s writing. In other words, it might not be uncommon for distinctive literary forms to refract off of one another in such manners through the incorporation of diverse rhetorical techniques. Such a closed reading illustrates that such rhetorical interpretation of pathos in William Shakespeare’s work is not only plausible, but likely in a comparative literary analysis.
The Construction of Don Pedro’s Character as a Leading Figure
Don Pedro is a very important character within Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, both within his own right and in terms of how he draws Shakespeare’s other characters together. Often referred to as “the Prince” from Aragon (“No Fear”), Don Pedro seems intelligent, encouraging, understanding, but also very gullible. He is the most social and political character in the play that works as a link between the other characters. There are a few facts that support Don Pedro as a very significant character in the story: his relationship with other characters in the play, his personal characteristics, and how he works as a tool of the author to deliver the main themes of the play.
Don Pedro works as a connection between all the characters that appear in the play. The story actually starts with Don Pedro bringing his soldiers that fought under him during the war to his old friend Leonato, who is Hero’s father and Beatrice’s uncle. As people get together, the story starts to take shape. Claudio falls in love with Hero; Don Pedro and Benedict help Claudio get to Hero. Later on, Don Pedro also plans to make Beatrice and Benedict fall in love with each other, which eventually brings all the characters together to work on a common goal. Even the antagonist, John, Don Pedro’s stepbrother, is included in the story as, who is eager to break the peace and take Don Pedro’s place. Don Pedro is the main link between the main characters of the drama. If it were not him, the main events would not have taken place.
Don Pedro is a leading figure in the play. He is a very generous, courteous, and intelligent man, but he lacks a little bit of a sturdiness to prevent himself from falling into evil. In the film version of the drama, he appears to be taller than other main characters, and he always stands in the middle of Claudio and Benedick, clearly showing that he is the leader of the group (Branagh). There are a few cases in the drama that shows his characteristics. First of all, he leads Claudio to the marriage to Hero. He tells Claudio:
They’re going to have a costume party with dancing tonight. I’ll disguise myself as you and pour out “my” feelings to Hero, taking her prisoner with the force of my love story. Then I’ll talk to her father. And in the end, she’s yours! Let’s get started right away (“No Fear”).
He also plans to help Beatrice and Benedict fall in love with one another. He says to Claudio:
Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing, but I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go dully by us. I will in the interim undertake one of Hercules’ labors, which is to bring Signor Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection, th’ one with th’ other. I would fain have it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it, if you three will but minister such assistance as I shall give you direction (“No Fear”).
Don Pedro not only takes the leadership position, but also plays an important role for the author.
Don Pedro also works as the playwright’s tool to implicate the main theme of the drama. The author tries to deliver to the audience the fragility and instability of a human being through showing Don Pedro who is so quick to fall into the evil of John. John, Don Pedro’s stepbrother, plans to deceive Don Pedro and Claudio by showing them Margaret and one of his soldiers having sex. Not knowing that it is not Hero but Margaret, her maid, that is with another man, the two men decides to revenge Hero. By reading this portion of the play, the audience can realize how quick a human is to believe in something that is so evil, even Don Pedro, the man of knowledge and leading.
“The Prince, Don Pedro is a notable character in the drama, Much Ado About Nothing (“No Fear”). Most significantly, his role links the main characters. He also has enough traits of a leader, and therefore takes a leadership position in the story. He literally leads the story by planning major events. Last, but not least, Shakespeare uses this character as a means to deliver a message to the audience. By showing Don Pedro fall into John’s trickery, the playwright implies that all human beings are the same, big or small, they are susceptible to be deceived by evil.
Branagh, Kenneth, director. Much Ado About Nothing. Renaissance Films, 1993.
“No Fear Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing.” No Fear Shakespeare, SparkNotes, 2017, nfs.sparknotes.com/muchado/page_2.html.
Problematic and Themes Raised in Much Ado About Nothing
At first glance, the reader is not likely to notice the immediate clue which presents itself in the title of William Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. If one, however, would follow the example of a Shakespearean player in Elizabethan times and pronounce the word “nothing” as “noting,” he would be introduced to a pun that is very significant because the ideas of noting, or observation, and nothing, are important themes in this story. Noting is something which motivates the characters to take actions which greatly affect the plot, and it is an idea which reflects the theme of reality versus appearance, in which reality is nothing and appearance is due to noting.
First of all, it is the characters’ noting which drives them to take actions which influence the plot. The earliest example of this is when Claudio falls in love with Hero. The relationship between these two characters plays a major role in the story, and it originates with Claudio noticing Hero – “Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?” (Act 1:1, l. 158-59) Claudio then asks the Prince to woo her for him. The important chain of events which follows – the pastime of formulating a romance between Beatrice and Benedick, the scheme of Don John, the “death of Hero” – is all on account of Claudio’s falling in love with Hero, which wouldn’t have happened, had he not noted her.
Another example is when Benedick and Beatrice fall in love with one another. The only reason this happens is because, first of all, Benedick notes the Prince, Claudio, and Leonato discussing how Beatrice is in love with him: “Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of today, that your niece Beatrice was in love with Signior Benedick?” (Act 2:3, l. 95-7) This, of course, is not true, but Benedick believes it, and he falls in love with Beatrice – “I will be horribly in love with her!” (Act 2:3, l. 237) Likewise, Beatrice overhears Hero and Ursula purposefully inventing Benedick’s love for her, and she falls in love with him – “I will requite thee, taming my wild heart to thy loving hand.” (Act 3:1, l. 117-18) The relationship between these two characters is important to the plot, as many events revolve around them, and it comes about only because Beatrice and Benedick note others’ conversations which falsely discuss their love for one another.
Probably the most important instance of a character’s noting affecting the plot is when Claudio observes Borachio wooing Margaret and believes her to be Hero. Thinking Hero to be disloyal, Claudio shames her publicly and refuses to marry her. This event, and the actions taken to solve the problems it creates, make up the major conflict in the plot. The characters must devise a way to prove Hero’s innocence and make Claudio feel remorse for his actions. This they do, by staging Hero’s death and uncovering her slander. None of this would have occurred, however, if Claudio had not noted Borachio wooing “Hero” and then acted on his false impression.
Two more examples of the significance of noting are when the Watch notes Borachio telling Conrad of the crime he committed by helping to slander Hero. The two men are then arrested, which is important to the plot; otherwise, they never would have been interrogated, and Hero’s innocence would never have been confirmed. The other example is when Dogberry goes to tell Leonato that he has apprehended some criminals, who happen to be Borachio and Conrad. Leonato notes Dogberry, who speaks in malapropisms, and sends him away. Had Leonato noted him further, he would have realized that it was important to interrogate the criminals right away, and he then would have been able to prevent the slander of his daughter. In this way, his failure to note Dogberry properly greatly affects the plot.
Noting does not only serve to motivate the characters – it reflects the story’s continuing theme of reality versus appearance. One aspect of this theme involves the idea that objects or affairs, when noted, are not always what they seem to be. The frequent use of masks throughout the story supports this idea. Masks create a distorted version of reality by giving a person a false appearance. The first use of masks is at the dance, where several instances of people seeming to be other than they are occur. Antonio flirts with Ursula, pretending he is not himself. The Prince woos Hero, pretending to be Claudio. Claudio pretends to be Benedick, and so allows himself to hear Don John saying that the Prince is wooing for himself. Benedick, recognizing Beatrice, who may or may not recognize him, is subjected by her to a series of harsh criticisms of himself. In the end of the story, Claudio marries Hero when she is behind a mask, not knowing her identity. All of these events take place when most of the characters are behind masks, which therefore relate to the reality versus appearance theme by giving a false appearance to a reality, and which relate to the noting theme by depriving the characters of their ability to note one another properly.
The reality versus appearance theme, which involves objects or affairs not being what they seem to be, goes to a higher level. Characters are deceived by what they note because the things they note seem to be other than they are. Then, by reacting to what they believe they noted, the characters react to what is, in reality, nothing. For example, Beatrice and Benedick fall in love because, by what they note others to say, it appears to them that each is in love with the other. They react to the false appearance that they note by actually falling in love with one another. They later discover that neither one originally loved the other, and so their reaction of falling in love was based on, in reality, nothing.
Another example of the reality versus appearance theme is when Claudio notes Margaret and Borachio and believes Margaret to be Hero, then slanders Hero, justifying himself with the idea that she appeared to be disloyal. While he shames her, he makes many references to the contrast between her appearance and what he believes her to be in reality: “Behold how like a maid she blushes here! …Would you not swear, all you that see her, that she were a maid,/ By these exterior shows? But she is none.” (Act 4:1, l. 34-40) He later makes another statement which refers again to the theme of reality versus appearance, in which he describes what she seems to be and what he thinks she is: “You seem to me as Dian in her orb/ As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown./ But you are more intemperate in your blood/ Than Venus, or those pampered animals/ That rage in savage sensuality.” (Act 4:1, l. 58-62) Thus Claudio, causing a great upheaval in the plot, accuses Hero in reaction to her appearing to be disloyal. He later discovers that she was innocent all along, and that what he noted was false. His accusations were built on nothing – she had appeared unfaithful but was, in reality, loyal.
The title, Much Ado About Nothing, summarizes the entire story. It has two meanings, each of which are significant to the plot – if it means “much ado about noting,” it describes all of the activity which takes place on account of the characters’ noting. If it means “much ado about nothing,’ it describes how all of the characters’ activities are based on nothing. The title itself, in all its cleverness and mixed meanings, is representative of the clever and complex text within. The title, then, is one of the few aspects of this play which do not have a deceitful appearance. In fact, this work is so preoccupied with the idea of deceitful appearances and such that it makes the reader wonder about his or her own life. How many times have we been deceived? How many objects or affairs in our lives currently are not what they seem to be? Also, are we, like the characters, going to be lucky enough to have the truth revealed to us? This comedy of Shakespeare is not so humorous as scary, because it provides us with questions to which we might never know the answers.
The Character Of Dogberry In William Shakespeare’S Play “Much Ado About Nothing”
Dogberry is a secondary character found in William Shakespeare’s comedic yet dark play Much Ado About Nothing. His character may be easy to overlook along with his comedic blubbering as simply another method of Shakespeare’s to provide relief in a play that rolls downhill as it leads up to its final acts, but that is not all that he is. Dogberry’s character is complex in that he may resemble an ordinary member of society but Shakespeare employs him as a foil to several of the primary characters and as the one to uncover the culprits behind Hero’s ruined reputation and “death.”
A constable was a caricature that resembled a peace officer, in that it had limited training and power that resulted in a lack of respect from the citizens of the small town they were employed in. At least in the case of Dogberry, who was the constable of the town of Messina located in Sicily. Dogberry may have had little training but his knowledge of the law is not as inadequate as it seems. When considering his choice of deputies he makes sure to pick those who can read and write, asks them, “Are you good men and true?” and advises them to, “keep your fellows’ counsel and your own.”
While Dogberry is not a professional in his line of work he does understand that he is responsible for keeping trouble out of his small town and assures his men that to wake him for any “matter of weight” is more than acceptable. The text alludes to the possibility that Dogberry is illiterate, unable to read or write through the repeated lines “write that down” which would normally be considered a problem in this line of work but is not for Dogberry, as his deputies and the Sexton take down the charges and testimonies of prisoners.
One problem that Dogberry does have is his poor memory for the nature of words, although he is aware of what they signify. Dogberry suffers from what is known as malapropism, or the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar sounding one, which often results in an unintentionally amusing effect. Dogberry’s linguistic performance or rather incompetence is what reveals Shakespeare’s brilliant manipulation of language through the maiming of said constable’s lines.
The humor that Dogberry brings to the storyline through his careless use of words is different from that of Benedick’s and Beatrice, who are in their own way humorous with their sophisticated puns, play on words and wit. It differs from Claudio and his purposeful, wrath filled words that are intent on destroying Hero. Dogberry’s humor is one that comes from a character who simply has trouble conveying his thoughts because he mixes up his words.
One scene in particular demonstrates Dogberry’s unintentional hilarity and transformation from a man who “would not hang a dog by my will, much more a man that hath any honesty in him”, into a man with a strong character, unwilling to keep quiet when a villian dare call him an ass. Dogberry, Verges and the Sexton prepare to examine Borachio and Conrade who have been accused of being “false knaves”, an accusation they deny. The watchmen who witnessed Borachio’s and Conrade’s crime, present their accusation and details of what they overheard but Dogberry does not seem to understand the importance of this.
Fortunately, the Sexton realizes what the three watchmen are implying and comes to the conclusion that they have stumbled upon a treacherous plot that Borachio and Conrade are key players in. The Sexton orders Dogberry and Verges to tie up the villains so that they may be taken to Leonato and then departs, however, when Dogberry attempts to lay his hands on Conrade, he dismisses them calling Verges a fool. Dogberry wishes the Sexton would have been there to write down the insult which prompts Conrade to declare, “Away! You are an ass, you are an ass”.
Dogberry takes great offence and speaks what is recognized as one of the greatest comedic yet dramatic speeches in literature, full of malapropisms that add to the effect. “Dost thou not suspect my place?,” he asks, “Dost thou not suspect my years?” Dogberry is regretful of the lack of the Sexton’s presence and skill to, “write me down an ass!” and take a written account of him denouncing a villain who is “full of piety”. Nonetheless, with or without the Sexton and his job to record, Dogberry assures himself and the villains that there crime will be “proved upon thee by good witness”.
Dogberry refuses to be labeled an ass and continues on to defend and simultaneously celebrate his honor:I am a wise fellow; and which is more, an officer; and which is more, a householder; and which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows the law, go to! and a rich fellow enough, go to! and a fellow that hath had losses; and one that hath two gowns and everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass! He mistakenly misuses “suspect” in place of “respect” and “piety” instead of “impiety”, which is just one way that he contributes to his own slander, that and his continuous wishing that the Sexton were around to be “writ down an ass.”
No matter, Dogberry becomes alite with passion in his own defense! He perceives Conrade’s comment as a critique on his class and while Dogberry is not a nobleman, he owns his own home, is a possessor of two gowns and a law abiding citizen. In fighting for his own honor, Dogberry makes himself look like an ass. Dogberry and Verges do not keep to themselves the newly found information that they have obtained. With the villains in tow they seek out Don Pedro and Claudio who recognize the men as henchmen who worked for Don John, the mastermind behind the entire affair, who ran off like a coward. Wondering what the men could have committed in order to be restrained, Dogberry attempts to explain their roles in all that has transpired.
Unfortunately, Dogberry’s explanation is unclear and Don Pedro asks Borachio what he has done. Borachio confesses his wrong doing and outs Don John for the conniving man that he is. Dogberry interrupts the scene by ordering the accused away but not without mistakenly calling them “plaintiffs.” He informs the men that the Sexton went searching for Leonato to share their discoveries. As the villains are being taken Dogberry says, “when time and place shall serve, do not forget that I am an ass.” Dogberry is adding to the list of the villains crimes by informing the men that they called him an ass, he considers this just as much of a crime compared to the scandal and wrongful death they have caused.
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedic play with a dark plot written by William Shakespeare, that is brimming with linguistic performances. In the case of Dogberry, the constable, there was much “ado” to keep up with the linguistic sophistication that the primary characters were fluent in. His lack of finesse with language did not stop him from being a key secondary character throughout the play that was essential in discovering the treacherous plotting of Don John, Borachio and Conrade. He may be an ass to some but he is more than that, he is an underappreciated constable with a unique way of bringing to light what has been hidden in the dark.
Much ado about nothing Essay
Much ado about nothing is a romantic intriguing comedy written by William Shakespeare. By focusing on relationships, the author of the play highlights the impact of deception to unity, love and happiness. Deceitfulness is the device the characters use to either destroy or improve each other’s lives. The love relationships are either build or destroyed due to tricks, envy or mere bad luck.
Similarly, some of the characters find joy in lying or playing tricks to their friends or lovers in order to achieve their personal selfish ambitions. Surprisingly, the aspect of self-deceitfulness arises among a few characters. Succinctly, the theme of deceit revolves around love relationships in the play.
Therefore, the elusive bonds created between different characters are weak mainly because they are build on the foundation of deceitfulness as expounded in the next discussion.
According to Shakespeare, a love relationship is like fate and therefore, only a self-deceptive person can separate two people who have a common interest. Set in a royal environment, Claudio announces his intention of courting and eventually, marrying Hero who has royal blood. Luckily, Don Pedro the Spanish prince encourages Claudio to go ahead with his plans.
Although Benedick is against Claudio’s intentions of dating Hero, Claudio puts him off by saying “in mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on” (Shakespeare Act I scene I 135-137). Benedick deceives himself when he thinks that he can change Claudio’s mind/intentions not to date Hero. For instance, he says, “God forbid it should be so” (Shakespeare Act I scene I 140).
During his conversation with Don Pedro, Benedick’s announces that he does not intend to marry either. However, he does not know what lies ahead (fate carries). Therefore, Benedick’s compact mind or inability to accept other people’s opinions or intentions motivates him to lie continuously to himself. Benedick’s fights to change Claudio’s intentions to marry Hero but he does not succeed.
Similarly, Beatrice practices self-deceit, when she also proclaims that she is better of single than married. For example in Act II she says “Just if he sends me no husband; for the, which blessing I am upon my knees every morning and evening” (Shakespeare Scene I 137-140). Although Beatrice’s prayer is to remain single, she ironically goes against her wish and finally marries Benedick.
Thus, her prayer/wish is a proof of self-deceit among characters. Eventually, due to fate, Claudio and Hero embark on a love Journey and Benedick’s and Beatrice find themselves in a love relationship. Therefore, Shakespeare shows self-deceit is a behavior, which may encourage people to live in a denial, as it is the case with Benedick and Beatrice.
In addition, self-deceit can be the only the channel people can use to build strong bonds. More over, through focusing on self-deceit Shakespeare discourages people in the contemporary society against undermining their potential or God’s intention.
Another case of deceitfulness in the story arises when Don Pedro assigns himself the duty of wooing Hero for Claudio. However, Claudio does not trust Don Pedro mainly because of his earlier elusive interaction with Don John. Although Don John is Don Pedro’s brother, he lies to Claudio that his brother loves Hero. Eventually, a disagreement ensues between Don Pedro and Claudio.
Due to the constant practice of deceit among the characters, Claudio believes that Don Pedro is wooing Hero for himself. The constant practices of self-deceit among the characters push them to view all other people as deceitful. Nevertheless, Claudio’s relationship with Hero begins. Therefore, Shakespeare enlightens the contemporary society that deceit can lead to disunity, family break up and fights.
Furthermore, some people use the element of deceit to revenge or fulfill their self-ambitions, as it is the case with Don John. When Claudio starts dating Hero, it is a lesson to the audience or reader that people should not be quick to judge, believe or trust any negative thoughts/ words from friends, family members and partners.
People should not deny themselves happiness because of mere allegations from third parties. Therefore, sometimes deceit can be a form of encouragement to the affected parties and thus, people should use that chance to achieve their personal ambitions.
According to Shakespeare, deceit can be the only way to solve social problems. For instance, through lies/deception Don John achieves his intention of breaking the relationship or wedding between Claudio and Hero. Claudio humiliates Hero at the wedding when he realizes or believes that she is unfaithful (through deception).
Don Pedro and Claudio also unite in the public humiliation of Hero while Margret the proprietor of the break up shamelessly watches the fall of Hero especially when she faints during the wedding. However, Leonato and the Friar fake Hero’s death in order to ascertain the truth. Through sympathy, Claudio accepts to marry Leonato’s niece (who actually is Hero).
Due to deception and its eventual impact, Claudio accepts to marry a stranger. Surprisingly, the congregation (women) appears in masks and Claudio has to wear a mask during the wedding. This form of deception is beneficial to both Claudio and Hero who end up establishing a solid relationship. During the wedding, Claudio asks, “Which is the lady I must seize upon” (Shakespeare Act V scene IV 53)?
This shows that Claudio is ready to marry any woman even if he does not love her. Consequently, the author shows that deceit is the only way, which can assist in solving challenging situations especially, which comes about due to deceit. Therefore, according to Shakespeare marriage is a social institution that may not necessarily be build on love.
Claudio’s decision to marry a stranger is to enable him socially fit in the society. Thus, guilt or remorseful may not necessarily be the main motivation behind his act.
Thus, deceit creates illusion that eventually, benefits both parties. In addition, the author also proves that most relationships especially marriages are broke or build based on deceit. However, the manner in, which an individual handles the lies/deceits may build or destroy his or her future.
In brief, the main theme highlighted in the play is deceit. Most of the relationships are either build or destroyed because of deceitfulness. However, behind any form of lie or deceit always a lasting solution to a conflict or problem emerges. When Shakespeare focuses on the element of self-deceit among his characters especially Beatrice and Benedick, he discourages the audience against living in self-denial.
Both Beatrice and Benedick do not believe in love or marriage relationship but eventually they end up marrying each other. Secondly, Shakespeare shows that through deceit individuals can solve their social problems especially regarding love relationships, as it is the case with Claudio and Hero.
Therefore, deceit is part of the society. However, people should learn to solve positively a problem build on basis of deceit. Finally, although deceit creates tension in the play, the relationship build on lies end up stronger.
Shakespeare, William. Much Ado about Nothing. New York: Penguin press, 1998. Print