Much Ado About Nothing Essay: An Exploration of Conformity

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Much Ado About Nothing as an Exploration of Conformity

In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice and Benedict rant about marriage for most of the beginning of the play, while Claudio raves about how wonderful it will be being married to Hero. Yet in the end, Claudio exchanges his marriage to Hero for an opportunity to bash her in public, while Beatrice and Benedick marry despite that they were mortal enemies for most of the first three acts. How did the situation swing around to this degree? Beatrice and Benedick had been using the most extreme metaphors to demonstrate their scorn of each other and of marriage, and Claudio had been doing the same to demonstrate his love of Hero. Not only did none of these three characters mean what they were saying, but meant the reverse, and the people that plotted to bring them together or pull them apart plotted because they understood on some level what each really wanted.

Beatrice and Benedick seem to have had some relationship before the beginning of the book that ended badly. This suggests that the initial situation between Beatrice and Benedick was one of mutual attraction, not of the overt hate they seem to flaunt at the beginning of the play. Scorn of this magnitude is rare among people who dislike each other from the start, and seems very unlikely in a broken up couple. In addition, both Beatrice and Benedick turned out to be very willing to abandon their smear campaigns as soon as they are convinced the other is aching for them. It is ridiculous that one would abandon one's own principals to bail out a hated enemy in trouble. This makes clear that their attitude toward each other is an act. If this is so, what is the purpose of the act...

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...ther, and nearly kills an innocent woman. In a broader perspective, conformity can leave people walking aimlessly down the beaten path with no real direction except conformity, doomed to live yet another meaningless life in a society based on archaic principles.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Barton, Anne. Introduction. Much Ado About Nothing. The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1997. 361-365.

Lewalski, B. K. "Love, Appearance and Reality: Much Ado About Something" Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 8 (1968): 235-251.

Prouty, Charles A. Conformity in Much Ado About Nothing. New York: Books for Libraries Press/Yale University Press, 1980.

Rossiter, A.P. "Much Ado About Nothing." William Shakespeare Comedies & Romances. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.
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