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The Role of Deception in Much Ado About Nothing

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The Role of Deception in Much Ado About Nothing

Deception is the aspect of Much Ado About Nothing which enables

Shakespeare to hold the interest of his audience. The play purports to

be a light-humoured comedy full of fun and entertaining images.

However, it has moments of gravity and, in places, a darker plot

almost approaching tragedy, is exposed to the audience. It emerges as

a story of a shallow world, full of weak characters. Deception is a

pivotal part of the plot - it is what makes the story revolve and what

keeps the attention of the audience.

The title of the play itself suggests the significance of deception in

the play. In Elizabethan times, the word 'nothing' was pronounced

'noting'. This is a pun because noting means how things appear to

people. The whole play is about how things appear to be other than

they are. Also, the play does involve a lot of fuss over nothing,

there are no serious incidents (apart from Don John's wrongdoings

which themselves amount to nothing). This pun is relevant in that

there are many incidents of naïve noting which makes the plot.

Shakespeare keeps returning to this idea and he continually uses the

words 'noting' and 'nothing'.

Claudio: Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signor Leonato?

Benedick: I noted her not but I looked on her.

The puns involved in Shakespeare's language are how he tries to

deceive in particular the educated audience who found this language

engaging. The use of this sort of language reinforces the fine line

between what is believable and what is not. They are not certain of

what it is supposed to mean, in this case nothing or noting. An

example of t...

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...eception, everything has been

untied and now even Benedick exposes himself to ridicule, "A college

of wit crackers cannot flout me of my humour." His final comment in

the play is about men and women "Prince, thou art sad, get thee a

wife, get thee a wife. There is no staff more reverend than one tipped

with a horn."

Deception makes things seem other than they are, and in the plot, lack

of sober judgement and inexperienced noting of matters is what causes

some moments of enormity in the play. The title of the play is

deceiving in that the actual play involves many happenings; the plot

is filled with action, albeit as a new act of deception, a battle in

the merry war between Benedick and Beatrice or a song and dance.

Deception is the key to excitement and captivation in a play, as

Shakespeare evidently appreciated.
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