An Understanding Evil in Shakespeare´s Much Ado About Nothing

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An Understanding Evil Several of William Shakespeare’s plays focus on the presence of a characters public appearance in the eyes of spectatorship and observation, and the problems that result from misunderstandings. Although it is dark at times, Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy that exemplifies this theme. As spectatorship is an action characters engage in, it becomes a challenge to keep up with the motives and truthful appearances of identities throughout the play. Due to Claudio’s ability to be easily manipulated, his motives behind rejecting Hero are masked by Don John’s evil attempt to destroy him and his marriage. In Much Ado About Nothing, Claudio is viewed as a victim of spectatorship and Don John as the perpetrator. Although Don John engages very minimally throughout the play, he portrays the misunderstood evil that drives the drama “about nothing.” Shakespeare’s writing underlies a broader point to be made on the precarious nature of engaging in spectatorship: it can easily go wrong. The nature of a character’s intentions can easily be lost as they guess what is going on, drawing to false conclusions. As shown throughout the play, this uncertain nature of spectatorship is what leads to the importance of the characters decisions. We see this first hand as Don John and his scheming nature attempts to trick Claudio into believing Hero is unfaithful through a plotted “investigation” the night before their wedding. “The word is too good to paint out her wickedness. Go but with me tonight, you shall see her chamber window entered, even the night before her wedding day” (3.2.5). As mentioned before, Shakespeare’s writing throughout the play focuses on the overall concept of misunderstanding. In thi... ... middle of paper ... ...rious outcomes through his trickery and scheme, Shakespeare’s use of comedy enables this “influential” character to fall through and loose in the end. Much Ado About Nothing is about an obsession with female sexuality and while it is hard to read a character such as Don John, we can assume that his purpose in the play is a mockery of the male role. In this case, Don John is driven to hatred by a jealously of his brothers’ successes and a bitterness towards Claudio’s happiness with his soon-to-be wife Hero. Don John’s motives remain mysterious and unknown much like his presence in the play. At the end of the play, Don John’s villainous actions are recognized, and he runs away. Ultimately, the success of a plot relying on spectatorship is not reliant on how a villain portrays a situation or how a victim responds, but on how the ones being watched act.
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