The Theme of Deception in Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

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The Theme of Deception in Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

It is clearly visible from the plot in Much Ado about Nothing that

deception plays a large role in the social structure of Messina, the

city in which the play is set. However, there is a clear distinction

between the types of deception used. Malicious deception is used to

shatter people's lives whereas benign deception is used to enrich the

lives of others.

In Act 1, Scene 1 we witness the 'skirmish of wit' between Beatrice

and Benedick. Throughout the scene they continue their 'merry war' and

a suggested reason for this is that Beatrice once gave 'a double heart

for his single one' indicating he may have once broken her heart. This

makes their later reunion more realistic.

The first of the benign deceptions is in Act 2 scene 1 at the masqued

ball. Everyone has their identities hidden by their masks, which is

deception in itself. Don Pedro takes this opportunity to woo Hero,

Leonato's only daughter and heir, for Claudio by pretending to be him.

Don John uses this as an opportunity to begin his malevolent

deception. In order to tarnish his rival brother, Don John pretends to

think that Claudio is Benedick and confides in him that Don Pedro is

wooing Hero for himself.

'my brother is in love, he is enamoured on Hero'

Claudio is young and naïve and believes Don John, however he only

finds out the information because he pretends to be Benedick. Not soon

afterwards the situation is rectified and Don Pedro assures Claudio he

was wooing Hero for him.

At the end of scene 1, Don Pedro yet again intends to 'undertake one

of Hercules' labours' but this time ...

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own ways, but for different purposes. Obviously, they will both gain

from their deceptions. Don Pedro's kingdom will increase as couples

get married and have children. However, he does this at the same time

as fulfilling other people's lives. Don John has the opposite effect;

by ruining other people's lives he enriches his life. However, to get

what they want they both have to work against each other. Even when

Don John was believed, his plot was revealed and Don Pedro's plans

succeeded. The malevolent and benign deception run in parallel with

each other so they can be compared as you watch the play. However, it

is always the harmless deception which succeeds against the harmful

deception. The theme of deception plays a major part in the plot of

the play and without it the play would not have a story line.

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