Much Ado About Nothing Essay: The Importance of Word Choice

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Much Ado About Nothing: The Importance of Word Choice

The choice of words used by the characters in Act 5, Scene 1, of the play, Much Ado About Nothing, clearly presents the characters emotions and constructs their characters for the audience. In contrast to his confrontation with Claudio and Don Pedro earlier in the scene, where he is reduced to begging them to hear him out ('My lord, my lord!'; Act 5, Scene 1; l. 106 ), Leonato's speeches are marked with a stateliness and self-assurance, as he has been fortified with the knowledge that his righteous indignation is justified. He is stern and dominates the scene, barking orders 'Which is the villain?' (l. 260), 'Bring you these fellows on.' (l. 333), and using the conversation to entrap, as Claudio and Don Pedro did to him during the aborted wedding:

Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast killed mine innocent child?.
No, not so, villain! Thou beliest thyself.
Here stand a pair of honourable men;
A third is fled, that had a hand in it.
I thank you, princes, for my daughter's death.

His true purpose is manifested to the audience in the way he addresses the prince and Claudio: this time he doesn't bluntly insult them, but uses more subtle language - 'Record [Hero's death] with your high and worthy deeds. 'Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.'(l. 270-271) - because he intends to perform one last deception, to get Claudio to marry Hero, so his strategy must be to play on their guilt, not to antagonize them: '.since you could not be my son-in-law, Be yet my nephew. And so dies my revenge' (l. 288-289, 293).

He seems to see himself as the rightful patriarch, restoring order - '.This naughty man Shall face to face be brought to Margaret, Who I believe was packed in all this wrong, Hired to it by your brother.' (l. 298-301) - and his speeches have an air of stateliness and dignity (all are in verse), as well as an air of busyness, exemplified in the orders he gives, lines 280-294:

Possess the people in Messina here
How innocent she died; and if your love
Can labor aught 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.

The emotion of earlier in the scene seems to have been spent - this meeting can be seen as Leonato's personal revenge, restoring his authority and reputation: his fatherly concern about Hero's reputation is no longer necessary, her name is merely an instrument to shame the princes.
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