The title of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing has sparked scholarly debates about its meaning for centuries. Some say it is a play on the term “noting”, revolving around the theme of all sorts of deceptions by all sorts of appearances (Rossiter 163). Others claim it has more to do with everyone making a fuss about things that turn out to be false, therefore, nothing (Vaughn 102). Regardless of these speculations, there is something rather profound going on in the play that is worth making a big deal about: four characters in the play learn about love, and eventually, how to love.
The four characters that learn the art of love are Beatrice, Benedick, Claudio and Hero. From the first viewing/reading of the play, Claudio and Hero seem to be the main focus. However, looking deeper into the entire play, and/or if you read any scholarship on Much Ado About Nothing, the true fascinating plotline involves Beatrice and Benedick.
The main difference between these two couples involves how they learn the art of love. At the beginning of the play, Claudio is the first one out of all the lovers to express his affections for someone else; however, he seems to have the weakest grasp on the concept of love compared to everyone else. Claudio hints of his growing feelings for Hero when he asks Benedick what he thinks of her (I.i.161). Benedick, who has a disdain for marriage, is not very helpful to Claudio. However, he does manage to draw out of Claudio the reason for his inquiry: “In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that ever I look’d on” (I.i.188).
This first glimpse into Claudio’s heart reveals mostly shallowness. His first words...
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...ial Identity and Masculinity in Much Ado About Nothing” Upstart Crow 16, (1996): 31-47.
Much Ado About Nothing. Directed by Kenneth Branagh. Samuel Goldwyn Company and Renaissance Films, 1993.
Much Ado About Nothing. The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1997. 366-398.
Prouty, Charles A. The Sources of Much Ado About Nothing. New York: Books for Libraries Press/Yale University Press, 1950.
Ranald, Margaret Loftus. “ 'As Marriage Binds, and Blood Breaks': English Marriage and Shakespeare” Shakespeare Quarterly 30, (1979): 68-81.
Rossiter, A.P. “Much Ado About Nothing.” William Shakespeare Comedies & Romances. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.
Vaughn, Jack A. Shakespeare’s Comedies. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, 1980
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