William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing
Genre: Comedy
It was probably written in 1598 in England
Date of first Publication: 1600
A Shakespearean comedy is one that has a
happy ending, usually involving marriage for
all the unmarried characters, and a tone and
style that is more lighthearted than
Shakespeare's other plays.

Shakespearean comedies also tend to have:
A struggle of young lovers to overcome
difficulty that is often presented by elders
Separation and unification
Mistaken identities
THE SHAKESPEAREAN COMEDY
A clever servant
Heightened tensions, often within a family
Multiple, intertwining plots
Frequent use of puns
Shakespeare was likely influenced by several
works in his writing of Much Ado About
Nothing. The “merry war” between Beatrice
and Benedick resembles no specific source, but
could have been inspired by Chaucer’s Troilus
and Criseyde, while the Claudio and Hero plot
could have been based upon Canto V of Orlando
Furioso or possibly Matteo Bandello’s Novella
(1554).
INFLUENCES
The ideal of the perfect courtier is likely from
Baldassare Castiglione’s 1528 work The Book
of the Courtier. Beatrice’s playful criticism of
men echoes the more violent misandry of
Shakespeare’s earlier work, The Taming of the
Shrew, while Don John’s spurious treachery
and Hero’s victimization suggest his later
work, the great tragedy Othello.
At Messina, Leonato, de governor, receives a message
announcing that Don Pedro and his deputies Claudio
and Benedick and all his man were coming back from a
battle and would stay at his city. Leonato welcomed
them and invited them to stay for a month.

As soon as they arrived Claudio falls in love with Hero,
Leonato daughter, and is criticized by Benedick who is
against marriage and claims to be a bachelor.

Don Pedro likes the idea and decides that he would
woo Hero on Claudio's behalf.
SUMMARY OF THE PLAY
At night at Masquerade ball Don Pedro has the
opportunity to woo Hero in Claudio's behalf and Hero
agrees to marry Claudio. But Don John, Don Pedro's
bastard brother tries do convince Claudio that Don
Pedro is in love with Hero. After everything is made
clear between Claudio and Don Pedro, Claudio and
Hero have Leonato's permission to date, and the
wedding day was set for a week later.

During the week Don Pedro decides to harbor a plan
to matchmake Beatrice and Benedick. In the
orchard/garden, Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio
discuss Beatrice's "love" for Benedick. Although
Benedick is hiding, they know he is there and lead him
to believe she loves him; Benedick takes the bait.
Similarly, Hero and her servant Ursula Discuss how
Benedick is "in love" with Beatrice, while Beatrice
herself hides in the trees and listen.
Don John creates the appearance that Hero is
unfaithful to Claudio, and Claudio and Don Pedro come
to believe this lie.
Claudio rejects Hero at the altar, insulting her and
accusing her of unchaste behavior; Don Pedro supports
Claudio.
Leonato proclaims publicly that Hero died of grief at
being falsely accused;
Hero’s innocence is brought to light by Dogberry;
Claudio and Don Pedro repent.
The play ends with two weddings. Hero and Claudio.
Benedick and Beatrice.
•Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon
•Benedick, of Padua; a lord, companion of Don Pedro
•Claudio, of Florence; a lord, companion of Don Pedro
•Balthasar, attendant on Don Pedro, a singer
•Don John, bastard brother of Don Pedro
•Borachio, follower of Don John
•Conrade, follower of Don John
•Leonato, governor of Messina
•Hero, his daughter
•Beatrice, an orphan, his niece
•Antonio, an old man, brother of Leonato
•Margaret, waiting-gentlewoman attendant on Hero
•Ursula, waiting-gentlewoman attendant on Hero
•Dogberry, the Constable in charge of the Watch, he uses
bad diction
•Verges, the Headborough, Dogberry’s partner
•Attendants and messengers
CHARACTERS
Beatrice - Leonato’s niece and Hero’s cousin.
Beatrice is “a pleasant-spirited lady” with a very sharp
tongue. She is generous and loving, but, like Benedick,
continually mocks other people with elaborately tooled
jokes and puns. She wages a war of wits against
Benedick and often wins the battles. At the outset of
the play, she appears content never to marry.

Hero - The beautiful young daughter of Leonato and
the cousin of Beatrice. Hero is lovely, gentle, and kind.
She falls in love with Claudio when he falls for her, but
when Don John slanders her and Claudio rashly takes
revenge, she suffers terribly.
MAIN CHARACTERS
Benedick - An aristocratic soldier who has recently
been fighting under Don Pedro, and a friend of Don
Pedro and Claudio. Benedick is very witty, always
making jokes and puns. He carries on a “merry war”
of wits with Beatrice, but at the beginning of the play
he swears he will never fall in love or marry.

Claudio - A young soldier who has won great
acclaim fighting under Don Pedro during the recent
wars. Claudio falls in love with Hero upon his return to
Messina. His unfortunately suspicious nature makes
him quick to believe evil rumors and hasty to despair
and take revenge.
The story of the play reports to Dom Pedro of
Aragon. He is likely referring to Pedro III the
Great, king of Aragon from 1276 to1285 and
king of Sicily from 1282 (After winning the
Sicilian Vespers) to 1285. The time span of the
play is around a week.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Messina, Sicily, at the home and grounds of
Leonato and some places of the city.
PLACE
THEMES
A theme common to Much Ado About
Nothing is Cuckoldry, (wife infidelity).
The author uses language as a motif to
reveal his intention with the play.
The ideal of social grace; deception as a
means to an end; loss of honor; public
shaming
Noting; entertainment; counterfeiting
The taming of wild animals; war; Hero’s
death
Language can also reveal social status.
Claudio and Don Pedro use language to show
respect to others. Dogberry, on the other
hand, confuses his words thereby showing
his lack of social stature.

Dogberry: "Marry, sir, they have committed
false report, moreover they have spoken
untruths, secondarily they are slanders, sixth
and lastly they have belied a lady, thirdly
they have verified unjust things, and to
conclude, they are lying knaves" (202-205).
When Shakespeare wrote Much Ado About
Nothing, "nothing" would have sounded
similar to "noting". To "note" someone is to
observe, listen, write, or speak to them.
During the play, many characters "note" each
other. The plot against Benedick and Beatrice
works purely on "noting”.
REFERENCES
 www.associatedcontent.com/article/13284/use_of_language
_in_shakespeares_much.html
 www.wikipedia.com.br
 www.sparknotes.com/

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