Social Illusions in Much Ado About Nothing
In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare presents us with a romp through the realms of truth and illusion. The play is full of characters plotting and deceiving, for both noble and repugnant reasons. It is a study in the importance and necessity of illusion in our everyday lives, and shows how deeply ingrained deception is in our social behaviors.
Everybody is involved in some kind of illusion, from the masked celebration to the unveiling of Hero's "cousin." Two of the major conspiracies in the play are the Claudio/Hero plotline and the Benedick/Beatrice story. Both of these situations contrast the multiplicitous nature of illusion.
Claudio and Hero do not operate in the realm of illusion. Their intentions and emotions are easily visible, so much so that they come off as transparent. Their utter lack of ability to engage in social illusion makes them unbelievable: Claudi...
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...e's dead, that things are finally resolved.
By showing the deep tangles of illusion that exist in normal social relationships, Shakespeare reminds us of our dependence upon fabrication. He shows us that we both desire to be and have a deep need to deceive ourselves and others. It's why we watch plays and read literature. But Shakespeare also shows us the precarious balance of illusion in our lives and the ease with which we can lose our grip on reality and fiction.
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