Much Ado About Nothing--the title sounds, to a modern ear, offhand and self-effacing; we might expect the play that follows such a beginning to be a marvelous piece of fluff and not much more. However, the play and the title itself are weightier than they initially seem. Shakespeare used two other such titles--Twelfth Night, or What You Will and As You Like It--both of which send unexpected reverberations of meaning throughout their respective plays, the former with its reference to the Epiphany and the topsy-turvy world of a saturnalian celebration, and the latter with its implications about how the characters (and the audience itself) see the world in general and the Forest of Arden in particular.
Much Ado About Nothing is no different, but we do not pick up the deeper resonances as quickly as an Elizabethan would, simply because of a shift in pronunciation. We get our first real glimpse of the pun in the title when Don Pedro says, "Note notes, forsooth, and nothing!" (The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare, ed. Sylvan Barnet, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1972, 2.3.57). As A. R. Humphreys explains, "That 'nothing', colloquially spoken, was close to or identical with 'noting' is the basis of Shakespearean puns, especially in a context of musical 'noting'. A similar pun, though non-musical, is conceivable here" (Introduction, The Arden Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing, London and New York: Methuen, 1981, 4).
The play is, in fact, driven by the "noting" of scenes or conversations and the characters' reactions to these observations; "noting" seems to be the thematic glue that binds the various plot elements together. When he wrote the play in ...
... middle of paper ...
...spite their lack of sophistication and their abuse of the English language, Dogberry, Verges and the rest of the Watch discover Don John's plotting and manage to sort out the confusion created by the aristocrats. "Much Ado is," as John Wilders says, "a play about 'noting', about the various and conflicting ways in which we respond to and judge other people" (147). It is about the flexibility of reality-- our ability to manipulate what other people observe and our occasional tendency to let biases influence our perceptions. And finally, it is about the inadequacy of "noting" the world with eyes and ears only, and the importance of relying on one's experience with and consequent faith in other human beings. Much Ado is all this, and marvelous comedy too.
Shakespeare, William. Much Ado about Nothing. Ed. A.R. Humphreys. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- ... Right then, Dante the poet calls the attention of the reader. Dante is now blind, yet he manages to describe his surroundings. “O you possessed of sturdy intellect” (Inf. 9.61). Here Dante seems to dare those who are knowledgeable of literature with a tone of supremacy. It almost gives the impression that Dante knew that many people would read this Comedy and not only read it but also digest it, investigate it, find interpretations and meanings to his words and mostly enjoy it. “Observe the teaching that is hidden here” (Inf.... [tags: Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Virgil]
1065 words (3 pages)
- ... Beatrice continues to ask questions about Benedick, she's clearly concerned about his welfare but she pretends to not care and be unconcerned. Now, on one hand we have that deep, realistic and enduring love. On the other hand there is Hero and Claudio who have no previous history. Claudio is immediately attracted to Hero, and he confesses to his comrade Benedick that he is in love and he has barely spoken to her. I've come to the conclusion that Claudio, due to the fact that he has just met Hero and has not even had a conversation with her, the reasons he is “in love” with her is purely for her outer beauty, innocence and the want to marry into a noble wealthy family.... [tags: relationship, trust, romance]
622 words (1.8 pages)
- Marriage: What Can you Posses. Within the very beginning of the story we see that the characters are placed into a society of which there is seemingly very little value in a persons humanity and kindness, but rather the society into which we first enter is seen as almost materialistic, and even though Egeon, has lost a wife and son, the Duke of Ephesus is only concerned with the money from which he can extract from Egeon. We see here that in order for Egeon to keep his marriage alive he has to pay for his life and so we begin to see the trend of what one can posses in a marriage, instead of love and respect.... [tags: essays research papers]
810 words (2.3 pages)
- "This play we must call a comedy, tho' some of the incidents and discourses are more in a tragic strain; and that of the accusation of Hero is too shocking for either tragedy or comedy" (Charles Gildon 1714) How far do you accept this comment about the play's events and language. "Much Ado About Nothing" is a play categorised as a comedy, and written by the dramatist William Shakespeare. A comic play is usually accepted to be a light-hearted play with a happy conclusion. A play classed as a tragedy is serious and sad, usually ending with the death of the main character.... [tags: Much Ado About Nothing Essays]
1418 words (4.1 pages)
- ... As you slowly step around and are overwhelmed by all the different displays of heaven and their meaning one you can help but stare at is “The Binding” by Christine Dixie of South Africa. She has created large paintings or different stages of a child’s sleep, the option to use a child is powerful in itself being that when you think of pure and innocence you think of a child, and nothing can be more pure, and beautiful than parent hood and watching your child the art you’ve created sleep peacefully and sleep itself is known to be peaceful and heavenly.... [tags: Africa, South Africa, Divine Comedy, Hell]
1657 words (4.7 pages)
- ... It is believed that the act of Baptism is symbolic of the adherent turning away from evil, and consequently, become free of their sins, whether that be original sin or mortal/venial sins. Consequently, the new adherent is also turning towards a positive life guided by the holy spirit. This deliverance from sin is widely considered to be a vital part of salvation, which is one of the main beliefs of Christianity. In Acts 2:38, Peter says “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.... [tags: Christianity, Jesus, Baptism]
1347 words (3.8 pages)
- The Divine Comedy: The Depth of Human Experience Religious, structured, and orderly. Although this book is religious through and through, it is also very earthly. You seem to never leave the earth. In fact, there seems to be no difference between earth and the heavenly sphere. It is a solid world, no distinction between mind and matter, everything is touchable. The physical expresses the spiritual, the spirit of God is physical and pervades the physical universe--it's all one place. There is no heaven and hell, it is just all here.... [tags: Divine Comedy Inferno Essays]
1313 words (3.8 pages)
- Do you like a good laugh. Elizabethan Comedy is the place to look. Full of puns and jokes plays like Much Ado About Nothing are sure to make you laugh. While their comedies were funny, the time period was a very serious. Even this did not stop the people of this era from having a laugh once in a while. Elizabethan era theatre, specifically Much Ado About Nothing, is still remembered today because it influenced theatre for future generations. This time was ruled by Queen Elizabeth who “was extremely fond of theatre” (Benson 169).... [tags: Much Ado About Nothing]
1346 words (3.8 pages)
- Beatrice in Dante's Divine Comedy How many people spend their whole life in love with a person they met only once when they were nine years old. Dante Alighieri, born in 1265, had only one meeting with Beatrice Portinari in 1274, making him only nine years old. By Dante's own account this was the most important event of his youth (Alighieri). When she passed away in 1290 Dante was about 25 and overcome with grief (Barbi 6). If Dante hadn't met Beatrice much of his work would have never been written.... [tags: Divine Comedy Inferno Essays Dante Poem]
969 words (2.8 pages)
- Divine Comedy – Pagans in Paradise In the beginning when God created humanity, it was said that He created all humans in His image of goodness (Genesis 1:27). Dante then adds in his Divine Comedy that God has instilled a certain predetermined capacity of goodness in each human being as He wills, which should be utilized fully during life (Paradise 3:84). It would then be assumed, in Dantean thought, that all humans have the choice to live fully to this capacity and assume a place in heaven upon death, to fail to utilize this capacity and suffer in Hell for eternity, or to sin and seek repentance at some point in their lives, allowing them to enter Purgatory.... [tags: Divine Comedy]
1481 words (4.2 pages)