Reputation in Much Ado About Nothing

637 Words3 Pages
In Les Miserables, written by Victor Hugo, it is said “whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do”. The society of Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, is very tight. It is a small town where every person in the city knows each other. The fact that they are all close knit makes it possible for an unscrupulous villain, like Don John, to take advantage of peoples reputation and views. In Much Ado About Nothing, the people of Messina find much importance in a person’s reputation. Don John, Claudio, Dogberry, Benedick, Leonato, and Hero are involved in the opinion of others and their own reputations.
Reputations in Much Ado About Nothing seem to be easily made and easily lost. Much of the interesting action happens because reputations are in no way guaranteed to be accurate. Someone’s opinion is taken as the gospel, in Messina, even though it may be false. An example would be when a messenger praises Claudio’s maturity, but Claudio is terribly immature the whole play. People are not only judged by what their deeds are, but what people say about them. Leonato said about Claudio “I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honor on a young Florentine called Claudio” (1.1.9). It shows that Claudio’s reputation was known even before meeting him. Learning of others or yourself happens throughout the play.
Benedick is a fine example of finding out that his reputation is not as he thinks. Reputation is a powerful thing, especially hearing about your own from someone else. During the masquerade ball Beatrice says “why, he is the Prince’s jester, a very dull fool. Only his gift is indevising impossible slanders…; for he...

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...egation where I should wed, there will I shame her” (3.2.123). His plan is more about vengefully ruining her reputation. The men in the play are obsessed, both comically and seriously, with cuckoldry. This allows all of this bad judgement to happen on innocent Hero.
A reputation is not just decided in someones deeds and actions, but what people say of that person. Someones reputation is a powerful thing, especially hearing it from another person. When hearing an opinion of a person it may be true, but also false. In Much Ado About Nothing, the people of Messina find much importance in a person’s reputation. Don John, Claudio, Dogberry, Benedick, Leonato, and Hero are all involved in the opinion of others and their own reputations. William Shakespeare said “reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving”.
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