Much Ado About Nothing - Wikipedia
In his comedies, Shakespeare very typically devices a plot using two couples that In Much Ado About Nothing, Hero and Claudio represent the moral element She also agrees to follow the friar's advice and very bravely goes into hiding to. Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy by William Shakespeare thought to have been written in Upon the arrival of the soldiers, Leonato welcomes Don Pedro and invites him to stay for a Benedick, who openly despises marriage, tries to dissuade his friend but Don Thus Benedick gives him the advice "Get thee a wife. If Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing gave advice to Scout from To Kill A Analyse Don John's relationship with the other characters and his pivotal role in the It's Act II Scene I in Much Ado About Nothing and Leonato and Beatrice are .
Instead of answering this remark in kind, Benedick, convinced that Beatrice is doing violence to her feelings, proves so deferential that she fails to recognise him. Because she flounces off, he conceitedly comments that her manner is confirmation strong of all he has overheard, and declares that, if he does not take pity upon her, he is a villain, and that if he does not love her he is a Jew!
Act III The third act opens in the governor's garden, where Hero bids Margaret run into the parlour and whisper to Beatrice, who is conversing there with the prince and Claudio, that her cousin and Ursula are in the orchard talking about her, and that, if she cares to overhear them, she can do so by hiding in a neighbouring bower.
Promising to induce Beatrice to come soon, the maid vanishes, while Hero instructs her companions to talk loudly about Benedick, praising him highly, and depicting him as desperately in love with Beatrice; for it is by such means Hero hopes to induce her cousin to fall in love with this swain. A moment later, having seen Beatrice steal to her hiding-place, Hero strolls in that direction, talking carelessly of her cousin's light ways, and of Signior Benedick's love for her.
She declares this suitor deserves everything that is good, but, knowing Beatrice's scorn for him, she avers she has advised him never to make his love known. In support of her opinion, she describes how Beatrice ridicules every man who approaches her, and vows the only way to cure Benedick of his hopeless passion will be to 'devise some honest slanders' to stain her cousin with. Such a proceeding seems objectionable to Ursula, who inquires why Beatrice does not look favourably upon Benedick, whom she considers a fine young man.
Thereupon Hero assures her the young man is, indeed, excellent, and that she regrets he has so sorely misplaced his affection. Then, feeling her work done, Hero suggests they return to the house to decide upon the wedding attire for the morrow. After they have gone, Beatrice emerges from her hiding-place, amazed at what she has heard, and radically cured of her most serious fault, by the lifelike picture her cousin has held up before her eyes.
She now decides to cease gibing, to bid maiden pride and contempt farewell, and to reward Benedick for his great love. The next scene is played in a room in Leonato's house, where Don Pedro, talking to the governor and to others, states he is lingering in Messina to witness the marriage, after which he intends to return home.
When Claudio volunteers to accompany him, he playfully rejoins that as it would be cruel to separate him from his bride, he has decided to take Benedick in his stead, knowing he is good company, and leaves no lady-love behind him.
Hearing this, Benedick shamefacedly rejoins he is no longer what he has been, and when they twit him with having a toothache, mutters it is easy for every man to 'master a grief but he that has it. After enduring their gibes for a while, Benedick begs Leonato for a secret hearing, so, while they two draw aside, Don Pedro and Claudio gleefully whisper that Hero and Margaret must have carried out their part of the plot, and that these 'two bears will not bite one another when they meet.
Invited to speak, he asks Claudio whether he is really to be married on the morrow, looking so compassionately at him, that the youth anxiously inquires whether he has heard of any impediment to his nuptials.
With pretended reluctance, Don John now declares Hero is disloyal, offering to prove the truth of his statement, provided Claudio station himself beneath her window that night. He adds that should Hero's lover choose to marry her after that, he may do so, but that he feels confident he will never wish to trust her again. His jealousy roused by these remarks, Claudio swears, should he behold any reason why he should not wed Hero, he will shame her in the face of the congregation on the morrow, a decision upheld by Don Pedro, who feels his honour, too, is at stake, and they are still discussing what steps to take when the curtain falls.
When it rises again, it is night in the street before Leonato's house, where Dogberry and his henchman Verges are placing the watch. Giving them long-winded instructions, Dogberry misuses his words in a comical fashion, and cautions his men not to meddle with thieves or any wrongdoers, lest they run into danger. The watchmen wisely conclude to sleep rather than watch, closing their eyes tight when thieves pass by, lest they should be tempted to interfere with their occupations.
The whole scene is ludicrous in the extreme, and when Dogberry goes away, he bids the men keep particular watch of the governor's door, as a wedding is pending and disturbances can be expected. No sooner have Dogberry and Verges gone, than two of Don John's men steal forward, closely noted by the watchmen, who have taken up their post on the church bench, to rest until it is time to go to bed.
From this place of vantage they overhear one man boasting he has earned a thousand ducats in compassing an act of villainy, and mention how, posted beneath Hero's window, he called the chambermaid by her name, until he deluded the hidden Claudio into believing his lady-love faithless. Although only half understanding what they see and hear, the watchmen excitedly comment to each other about the plot they have discovered, and decide to arrest the malefactors, who protest vehemently.
The scene is next transferred to Hero's apartments, on her wedding morning, just as she is calling for Beatrice and discussing fashions. In the midst of the voluble talk in regard to styles and the approaching ceremony, Beatrice seems so out of tune, that she is twitted for it by one of the attendants. This occasions a witty and wordy skirmish, which is interrupted by Margaret's announcement that all the gentlemen in town have come to escort the bride to church. Meantime, in another room in the same house, Leonato is interviewing Dogberry and Verges, bidding them state their errand briefly, as he is very busy.
As it is an impossibility for Dogberry to be brief, he informs the governor with endless circumlocution that two knaves were caught last night, beneath his windows, who should be examined immediately.
Unwilling to be detained by trifling matters, Leonato deputes Dogberry to examine these prisoners himself, whereupon, proud of this charge, the constable hurries his prisoners off, bidding Verges summon a secretary with pen and inkhorn to take down all they say. Just as Dogberry vanishes with men and prisoners, the governor is summoned to join his guests for the wedding.
Act IV The fourth act opens in the church, as Leonato is enjoining upon the friar to celebrate the marriage as briefly as possible. In compliance with these orders, the friar begins his momentous questions, and is startled to hear Claudio deny he has come here to marry Hero. Deeming this a mere quibble in regard to terms, he nevertheless propounds the same question to the lady, who returns the conventional answer. When the friar next asks whether any one knows any 'inward impediment why they should not be joined in marriage,' Claudio meaningly asks his bride whether she does not.
Hearing her truthfully rejoin there is no obstacle as far as she knows, Claudio demands of Leonato whether he is giving away a maiden daughter.
This question also being answered in the affirmative, Claudio turns toward the wedding guests, indignantly denouncing Hero as a whited sepulchre and vowing he has good reasons for knowing she is not pure.
When the father tremblingly demands whether this means he anticipated his wedding, Claudio rejoins he has always treated Hero in brotherly fashion with 'bashful sincerity and comely love. Hearing this, Don Pedro interferes, angrily vowing he feels insulted because such a person was offered to his friend.
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Then, in the course of the lively dialogue which ensues, Don Pedro, Claudio, and Don John reveal how, standing beneath Hero's window last night, they saw a lover climb into her room.
Their accusations prove so circumstantial, that Leonato tragically inquires whether there is no dagger-point for his heart, while poor Hero swoons, and is caught as she falls by her cousin Beatrice. Seeing Hero apparently lifeless, Don John nervously suggests they go away, and succeeds in hurrying his brother and Claudio out of the church.
Meantime, Benedick and Beatrice, bending over the fainting Hero, call for help, which Leonato refuses to give, averring ' death is the fairest cover for her shame that may be wish'd for,' and saying he hopes Hero will never open her eyes again!
His opinion is not shared by Benedick and Beatrice, for when he wails nothing can ever 'wash her clean again' his niece exclaims her cousin is belied. In hopes of clearing Hero's reputation, Benedick now asks Beatrice whether she slept with her cousin last night as usual, and is appalled to hear how, for the first time, she omitted doing so.
Although the heartbroken father considers this an additional proof of his daughter's guilt, the friar insists no culprit ever bore so innocent a face, claiming that long experience would enable him to detect the slightest trace of wrong-doing. He is, therefore, ready to swear the sweet lady lies 'guiltless here under some blighting error,' although the father does not believe him.
While they are talking, Hero's eyes open, so the friar eagerly inquires who has misled her. Truthfully, yet sadly, Hero rejoins she does not know what they mean, never having even conversed with a man at an improper time or in an improper way. This statement convinces the friar and Benedick that some treachery is afoot, which the latter unhesitatingly ascribes to Don John, 'whose spirits toil in frame of villainies. All the rest now leaving the scene of this tragedy, Benedick tenderly addresses Beatrice, inquiring whether she has wept all the time, and showing such sympathy that she feels deeply touched.
When he offers to be her friend, confessing he loves her, Beatrice rejoins that, although she does not love him, she thinks well of him. As usual, she relapses into efforts at wit, but instead of answering sharp speeches in kind, Benedick tries by every means in his power to disarm her. Hearing him vehemently offer to do anything she bids him, Beatrice calls out in righteous indignation she wishes he would kill Claudio, or at least prove him mistaken in accusing Hero.
She vehemently adds that were she only a man, she would avenge this insult, whereupon Benedick gallantly pledges himself to challenge his friend for slaying Hero, since it is agreed she is to be considered dead. The curtain next rises on the prison, where Dogberry and his henchman are fussily cross-examining their prisoners. This whole scene is comical in the extreme, for Dogberry, full of his importance, bids the secretary write down one irrelevant statement after another.
The only official showing any sense is the sexton, who has had experience in such matters. Still, amidst the confusion it gradually transpires that the courtiers were paid by Don John to play a vile part that Hero might be publicly disgraced. This testimony is written down, although Dogberry regrets the secretary has departed before one of his prisoners termed him an ass, as he deems it important this statement be put down on the minutes, too!
The prisoners, having fully confessed their wrong-doing, are led away bound, so Leonato can deal with them as he sees fit. Act V The fifth act opens in front of Leonato's house, just as Antonio assures his brother he will kill himself if he continues mourning in this extravagant way. There is, however, no consolation for Leonato's deep sufferings, so he states such counsel is as profitless as pouring water in a sieve! When he eloquently expresses his sorrow, and his brother accuses him of acting like a child, Leonato bitterly retorts, 'there was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently,' and vows his brother would show more heat if the wrong concerned him.
His main object in life henceforth is to prove Hero has been belied by Claudio and the prince. It is at this moment that Don Pedro and Claudio try to pass by and are detained by Leonato, who reviles them for wronging him and his child. When he hotly terms them villains, and threatens to prove it at the point of his sword, Don Pedro and Claudio vainly try to soothe him.
Such is the excitement of both Leonato and Antonio, that they challenge Claudio to fight, while Don Pedro temperately states they are sorry to hear the lady has died, although she was charged with nothing 'but what was true and very full of proof.
A moment later Benedick enters, and when Claudio inquires what news there is, answers in so cold and sarcastic a tone, that his companions fancy this is some new joke. Benedick, however, soon manages to draw Claudio aside, and challenges him in a whisper; in the same tone Claudio accepts this duel, although the prince, thinking they have made an appointment for an entertainment, chaffs them about it in a witty way.
Then, still in pursuit of his former plan, Don Pedro reports how he heard Beatrice praise Benedick's wit, and urges Claudio to repeat the nice things she is supposed to have said about it. In spite of all this jocularity, Benedick returns haughty answers, and finally states he does not care to consort with them any longer, since he has heard that Don John has fled, not daring to remain in the city, now it is rumoured Hero's death is due to his machinations.
Seeing Benedick go off in anger after this statement, Don Pedro expresses amazement, until he and Claudio realise the young man has manfully espoused Beatrice's cause. They are still discussing the question when Dogberry enters with his prisoners, in whom Don Pedro recognises with surprise two of his brother's men. When he questions the watch, Dogberry asserts they have been guilty of sundry misdeeds, becoming so verbose that Don Pedro finally turns to the prisoners themselves for information.
They humbly confess their villainy, having been stricken with remorse on hearing the tragic result of their night's work. Their report positively staggers Don Pedro and Claudio, who can scarcely credit their ears, and only with difficulty realise how Don John started the slander which has such results. In his remorse, Claudio is loudly mourning for Hero, when Leonato bursts into the room, he, too, having, meantime, heard the news.
Clamouring for the villain so he may take his revenge, Leonato is told the prisoner is not to blame for his child's death. He soon realises it is to be ascribed mainly to Don John, although the prince, and Claudio, have had their share in the evil work.
Hearing his strictures, Claudio implores Leonato to impose upon him any penance he chooses, vowing his sin consisted solely in misapprehension. As the same excuse is pleaded by Don Pedro, Leonato declares he will hold himself satisfied, provided they both repair to Hero's tomb, and do penance there for the insult offered her.
Not only do Claudio and the prince engage to fulfil this duty, but the lover further pledges himself to meet the irate Leonato on the morrow to learn what other atonement he can make. Then Leonato decides that, since Claudio can no longer be his son-in-law, he shall marry his niece, who is 'almost the copy of my child that's dead,' a reparation the penitent Claudio is ready to make.
Meanwhile, Leonato intends to confront Margaret and the prisoners, so as to sift the whole story down to the bottom, although the courtier voluntarily testifies she has always been virtuous, and was not aware of their vile plot. After receiving Leonato's thanks for ferreting out this affair, Dogberry retires with his men, uttering a most involved speech. Then, taking leave of Don Pedro and Claudio, who are to spend the night at Hero's tomb, Leonato and his brother go off with their prisoners to cross-question Margaret.
The next scene is played in the governor's garden, where Benedick is imploring Margaret to secure for him an interview with Beatrice. To tease this ardent suitor, Margaret bids him write a sonnet in praise of her beauty, and when he gallantly says she deserves it, enters into witty conversation with him, ere going away to summon her mistress. While waiting for Beatrice, Benedick sings to himself, musing upon the great lovers of history, and conning the rhymes he wishes to use in composing a poem in honour of his lady-love.
Although Beatrice on joining him answers his remarks in her wonted strain, Benedick makes a greater effort than ever before to win a hearing. His evident solicitude for her cousin touches Beatrice's heart, and she has barely reported Hero very ill, when Ursula bursts in, full of excitement, exclaiming Leonato has just discovered how Hero had been falsely accused, and the prince and Claudio tricked! These tidings prove so joyful to Beatrice that she graciously invites Benedick to go with her and hear all about it, an invitation he gladly accepts.
The curtain next rises on the church where Hero was disgraced, whither Don Pedro and Claudio have come with attendants and tapers to place upon her monument, a statement fully retracting the slanders they uttered on this spot. After singing a touching requiem, Claudio promises to do yearly penance in this style in memory of the lovely lady 'done to death' by his cruelty.
Ironically, we can see through the play's popularity that this only increased people's interest in such behavior. Benedick wittily gives voice to male anxieties about women's "sharp tongues and proneness to sexual lightness".
This stereotype is turned on its head in Balthazar's song "Sigh No More," which presents men as the deceitful and inconstant sex that women must suffer. Infidelity[ edit ] A theme in Shakespeare is cuckoldry or the infidelity of a wife. Several of the characters seem to be obsessed by the idea that a man has no way to know if his wife is faithful and therefore women can take full advantage of that fact. Don John plays upon Claudio's pride and fear of cuckoldry, which leads to the disastrous first wedding.
Many of the males easily believe that Hero is impure and even her father readily condemns her with very little proof. This motif runs through the play, often in references to horns, a symbol of cuckoldry. In contrast, Balthasar's song " Sigh No More " tells women to accept men's infidelity and continue to live joyfully. Some interpretations say that Balthasar sings poorly, undercutting the message.
This is supported by Benedick's cynical comments about the song, where he compares it to a howling dog. However, in the Branagh film Balthasar sings beautifully, the song is also given a prominent role in both the opening and finale and the message appears to be embraced by the women in the film.
The games and tricks played on people often have the best intentions—to make people fall in love, to help someone get what they want, or to lead someone to realize their mistake. However, not all are meant well, such as when Don John convinces Claudio that Don Pedro wants Hero for himself, or when Borachio meets 'Hero' who is actually Margaret, pretending to be Hero in Hero's bedroom window.
These modes of deceit play into a complementary theme of emotional manipulation and the ease with which the characters' sentiments are redirected and their propensities exploited as a means to an end.
The characters' feelings for each other are played as vehicles to reach an ultimate goal of engagement rather than seen as an end in themselves. Masks and mistaken identity[ edit ] People are constantly pretending to be others or being mistaken for other people.
An example of this is Margaret who is mistaken for Hero, which leads to Hero's public disgrace at her wedding with Claudio. However, during a masked ball in which everyone must wear a mask, Beatrice rants about Benedick to a masked man who turns out to be Benedick himself but she acts unaware of this at the time. During the same celebration, Don Pedro, masked, pretends to be Claudio and courts Hero for him.
After Hero is announced "dead," Leonato orders Claudio to marry his "niece," who is actually Hero in disguise. Noting[ edit ] A watercolor by John Sutcliffe: Beatrice overhears Hero and Ursula. Another motif is the play on the words nothing and noting, which in Shakespeare's day were near- homophones. The title could also be understood as Much Ado About Noting. Much of the action is in interest in and critique of others, written messages, spyingand eavesdropping. This is mentioned several times, particularly concerning "seeming," "fashion," and outward impressions.
Nothing is a double entendre ; "an O-thing" or "n othing" or "no thing" was Elizabethan slang for " vagina ", evidently derived from the pun of a woman having "nothing" between her legs. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signor Leonato?
I noted her not, but I looked on her. Hear me a little, For I have only been silent so long And given way unto this course of fortune By noting of the lady. Thou knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak is nothing to a man. A triple play on words in which noting signifies noticing, musical notes and nothing occurs at 2. Nay pray thee, come; Or if thou wilt hold longer argument, Do it in notes.
Note this before my notes: There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting. Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks — Note notes, forsooth, and nothing! Don Pedro's last line can be understood to mean, "Pay attention to your music and nothing else!
Much Ado About Nothing
The following are puns on notes as messages: I pray you leave me. Ho, now you strike like the blind man — 'twas the boy that stole your meat, and you'll beat the post. Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your daughter told us of. O, when she had writ it and was reading it over, she found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet? The play was very popular in its early decades, as it would be later: David Garrick first played Benedick in and continued to play him until John Gielgud made Benedick one of his signature roles between andplaying the part opposite the Beatrice of Diana WynyardPeggy Ashcroftand Margaret Leighton.
The longest running Broadway production is A.