Most of the characters in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing have clear cut goals and motivations. Beatrice and Benedick, who are influenced by their stubbornness, trying to go against what other people think or want for them, trying to control their own life, and Claudio controlled by impulsiveness, who doesn’t think about his actions before he commits to them. These are a few examples of character motivations. However, there are also characters in the play who are considerably harder to understand. They may seem like stock characters at first glance. Don John, the evil villain, who wants nothing but to wreak havoc and cause terror in all good people. And Leonato, the father, who deeply loves his daughter and would do anything to protect her reputation. Although these stock traits may distinguish the characters to a certain extent, there is much more going on underneath the surface, in Don John and Leonato’s thoughts and actions.
Don John, the prince’s illegitimate brother, is a character who at first glance seems like a stock character, with little, to no depth. However, if one looks closely, one can see that Don John is deeper than originally noted. Don John is the antagonist of the story, constantly trying to thwart the prince’s plans. The best information about Don John and his backstory can be found in Act 1 Scene 3, where Conrade and Don John are discussing why Don John feels down. Conrade states that just recently, Don John had revolted against the prince, and that the prince had only recently accepted him again (Shakespeare 1.3.18-24). Don John states that he has a deadly disease (28) and that “I cannot hide / what I am” (1.3.12-13). This implies that Don Joh...
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...eeper into the story. One can better perceive each of the character’s motivations and what causes certain actions. Comprehending the governmental and societal pressures in regards to Leonato, one may discern the reasons for his outburst at the wedding. By understanding the circumstances that led to Don John’s birth, one can recognize why Don John believes himself to be a plain-dealing villain, and why he is currently in the position in which he is. Knowing more about these characters is vital to a more enlightened reading of Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.
Shakespeare, William, Barbara A. Mowat, and Paul Werstine. Much Ado about Nothing. New York: Washington Square, 1995. Print.
Straznicky, Marta. "Shakespeare And The Government Of Comedy: Much Ado About Nothing." Shakespeare Studies22.(1994): 141. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 10 May 2014.
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