Interesting Literature

A Summary and Analysis of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Much Ado about Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s finest and best-loved comedies. With the battle of wits between Beatrice and Benedick and the plot involving young lovers Claudio and Hero, the play touches upon sexual jealousy, trust, and the importance of separating illusion from reality, among other prominent themes. Before we offer some words of analysis of Much Ado about Nothing , it might be worth briefly recapping the plot of the play.

Much Ado about Nothing : plot summary

At the centre of Much Ado about Nothing are two couples: Beatrice and Benedick and their friends, Hero and Claudio. The play takes place in Messina on the Italian island of Sicily.

Don Pedro has defeated his evil brother Don John in battle, but has allowed him to live and has pardoned him. However, Don John is jealous of his brother and his brother’s friends and followers, and seeks to cause trouble. The play opens with Don Pedro being welcomed to Messina by Leonato, the governor of Sicily.

Claudio, a young friend of Don Pedro, takes a shine to a beautiful young woman, Hero. Don Pedro woos Hero for Claudio, and Claudio and Hero arrange to be married. Don John sets about trying to drive division between the happy couple.

While Claudio and Hero are finding love, Claudio’s friend Benedick and Hero’s friend Beatrice are engaged in a battle of wits, insulting each other in public and trying to give the impression that they cannot stand each other. However, their friends see through this and realise – even if Beatrice and Benedick aren’t fully aware of it themselves – that they are only pretending to hate each other because, deep down, they fancy each other.

At a masked ball, Don Pedro, Claudio, and Hero therefore decide to trick Beatrice and Benedick into falling for each other. Meanwhile, Don John hatches a plan to drive a wedge between Claudio and Hero. He gets his henchman Borachio to woo Hero’s gentlewoman, Margaret, on hero’s balcony, with Margaret made up to look like Hero. Don John then makes sure that Claudio witnesses this, so the young lover is convinced his wife-to-be is unfaithful.

At Claudio and Hero’s wedding, Claudio denounces his bride as unfaithful, and she faints in shock at being (falsely) accused. Leonato tells everyone to pretend that Hero is dead. Benedick, having been gulled by his friends into thinking Beatrice secretly loves him, declares his love for her, and she reciprocates. But she tells him to prove his love by killing Claudio, for what he has done to her friend, Hero.

Meanwhile, Borachio’s big mouth gets him into trouble: the local constable of the night watch, Dogberry (whose speech is marked by comical malapropisms), overhears him boasting about Don John’s scheme and arrests him. Dogberry and his sidekick, Verges, reveal Borachio’s – and, by association, Don John’s – guilt, just after Benedick has challenged Claudio to a duel.

Claudio, realising he unjustly denounced the innocent Hero, agrees, as penance, to marry Leonato’s niece (whom conveniently no one has seen before). When she is brought out for the wedding, she is revealed to be Hero, alive and well. They marry, everyone celebrates, Don John is punished, and Beatrice and Benedick appear to be finally overcoming their verbal chafing and will get together.

Much Ado about Nothing : analysis

Let’s begin with the title of Shakespeare’s comedy: Much Ado about Nothing . It’s well-known that ‘nothing’ was Elizabethan slang for the female genitals, so Shakespeare’s title is, on one level, a bawdy pun: the whole play is a load of fuss over sex.

This is certainly true of many Shakespeare comedies, where lust and love uneasily coexist: Claudio’s attraction to Hero is a result of her beauty, rather than anything deeper, and as soon as he suspects her virginity is non-existent (or has been reduced to ‘nothing’) – a suspicion he is suspiciously quick to adopt – he denounces her vehemently in public at what should have been their wedding.

By contrast, Benedick (his own name can perhaps be translated into another dirty pun, i.e. ‘well-dicked’ or well-endowed?) actively seeks to de- sex or unsex Beatrice as a woman, showing how plot and subplot work together, as Shakespeare uses the second, and secondary, romantic couple to offset but also complement the qualities found in the primary couple of Claudio and Hero.

There’s a paradox at work here, though, for in doing his best to undermine Beatrice’s eligibility as wife material, he is actually, unbeknownst to himself (or perhaps only partly beknownst), highlighting or even elevating her suitability as a mate for himself. Her ability to keep up with his witty putdowns confirms that she is easily a match for him, not only as a verbal sparring partner but as a partner in the broader romantic sense.

People don’t go and see revivals of Much Ado about Nothing for Claudio and Hero, but for Beatrice and Benedick and their flyting-as-flirting.

Indeed, the title Much Ado about Nothing is also thought to hide another pun, on the word ‘noting’, which referred to the sort of banter or repartee which Beatrice and Benedick engage in.

Whilst we’re delving into the wordplay and verbal significance of titles and names, it’s worth mentioning that ‘Benedick’ also summons benediction or blessing, while ‘Beatrice’ means ‘blessed’, showing that the two are etymologically as well as literally made for each other. Although since ‘Beatrice’ is sometimes taken to mean ‘one who makes [somebody] blessed’, we might ask, of the two of them, who is the benefactor and who is the beneficiary?

One final twist on that multifaceted, multi-punning title, Much Ado about Nothing . ‘Noting’ also referred to overhearing and ‘noting’ something down, and obviously this is of significance to Shakespeare’s play in several ways.

First, Don John’s malevolent plot hinges on Claudio being made to overhear or witness ‘Hero’ (really Margaret) flirting with another man; second, Don Pedro, Claudio, and Hero’s (much more benevolent) plot to convince Beatrice and Benedick together turns on the two of them being made to overhear the three friends talking about how the other one secretly loves them: so Benedick overhears his friends talking about how much Beatrice admires him, and vice versa.

Third, Borachio is ‘noted’ or overheard bragging about his part in bringing to fruition Don John’s plot, and Dogberry’s subsequent ‘noting’ of the events and clearing up of the mystery.

Much Ado about Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s more straightforward comedies, in which the plot is simple but the fun is to be had in the skirmishes of wit between the secondary couple, who are far more interesting than the play’s nominal hero (no pun intended) and heroine. It’s hardly surprising that, for many readers and theatregoers, its unofficial alternative title is ‘the Beatrice and Benedick show’.

Discover more from Interesting Literature

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.

Type your email…

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Website navigation

The Folger Shakespeare

A Modern Perspective: Much Ado About Nothing

By Gail Kern Paster

Cuckoldry jokes are in the air in Messina. Its governor, Leonato, snatches one out of it when he jokes feebly about having to ask his wife repeatedly for reassurance as to his daughter’s legitimacy:

PRINCE   I think this is your daughter.

LEONATO   Her mother hath many times told me so. 1

( 1.1.102 –3)

Benedick draws our attention to this trace of an old suspicion: “Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?” ( 1.1.104 ). But Benedick, we soon learn, is also suspicious of women as the agents of men’s humiliation and defeat. He expresses an almost pathological fear of betrayal in marriage: to be married is to wear the conventional horns of a cuckold, to have one’s own military bugle snatched away, to have it sounded in one’s own face:

That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she

brought me up, I likewise give her most humble

thanks. But that I will have a recheat winded [i.e., a

bugle-call blown] in my forehead or hang my bugle

in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon

me. Because I will not do them the wrong to

mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none.

( 1.1.234 –40)

Benedick’s extraordinary self-portrait of his relations with women yields readily to a psychoanalytic reading. Moving without pause from his conception to his upbringing to his cuckolding, he conflates his relations to mother and to wife, collapses past and future, memories and fears. 2 What seems to unify all these stages of a man’s life, for Benedick, is humiliating dependence on women, beginning with the infant’s dependence on maternal women for life and nurture. But that early dependence, instead of being outgrown, is seen here as forerunner to the later sexual humiliations of the adult male. Furthermore, Benedick’s dismissive mention of his mother as the “woman [who] conceived me” betrays her real importance to the structure of repressed memory. In psychoanalytic narratives of male repression, the mother’s lack of the phallus is a disturbing image for the child—an image of his own fear of castration and of his overmastering by another male. But for Benedick, the returning soldier, this fear of women seems less generic than personal: the cuckold’s horns that he envisions as his own future headdress are specifically those of a defeated soldier who has lost his bugle to another soldier. It is not surprising, then, that Benedick’s anticipation of a farewell to arms here parallels Othello’s lament for the loss of heroic identity through an imagined sexual betrayal by Desdemona:

Farewell the tranquil mind! Farewell content!

Farewell the plumèd troops and the big wars

That makes ambition virtue! O, farewell!

Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump,

The spirit-stirring drum, th’ ear-piercing fife,

The royal banner, and all quality,

Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!

( Othello 3.3.400–6)

For soldiers like Benedick and Othello, marriage threatens loss of a valued form of masculine singleness, a loss of control.

More interesting, perhaps, in a comic action like Much Ado ’s which is organized around the imagining of sexual betrayal, is that the fear of being associated with the cuckold’s horns is not peculiar to men nor is resistance to marriage a symptom of only masculine identity. Though her uncles worry that Beatrice’s sharp tongue makes her “too curst” ( 2.1.20 ) to get a husband, she jokes that she will thereby avoid making her husband wear horns: “I shall lessen God’s sending that way, for it is said ‘God sends a curst cow short horns,’ but to a cow too curst, he sends none” ( 2.1.21 –24). Even the devil, no mere mortal, wears the signs of betrayal; Beatrice imagines having him meet her looking “like an old cuckold with horns on his head” ( 2.1.44 –45). The horn motif continues to sound in the play even after it ostensibly has been silenced by the exposure of Don John’s sexual slander against Hero. Thus Benedick, though converted to love in the person of Beatrice, nonetheless misogynistically urges the play’s remaining eligible bachelor, Don Pedro, to join in the march to the altar in the spirit of accepting a universal, age-old humiliation: “Get thee a wife, get thee a wife. There is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn” ( 5.4.126 –28). If betrayal is the universal fate of the married, it is no wonder that Beatrice regards marriage as a form of repentance:

 . . . wooing, wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig, a

measure, and a cinquepace. The first suit is hot and

hasty like a Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; the

wedding, mannerly modest as a measure, full of

state and ancientry; and then comes repentance,

and with his bad legs falls into the cinquepace faster

and faster till he sink into his grave.

( 2.1.72 –78) 3

As all these quotations suggest, anxiety about sexual betrayal in marriage seems endemic in Messina, sparing neither the old nor the young, neither male nor female. What is clear in the men’s cuckoldry jokes is their willful silence, for the sake of male friendship and preservation of the status quo, about the male betrayer and a contrasting emphasis on his female partner. It is not the desires of other men that Benedick mistrusts but those of womenkind. It is only when they are among themselves that the Men’s Club of Messina—to borrow Harry Berger’s wonderful appellation—allows Balthasar’s song to register an alternative truth: “Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, / Men were deceivers ever, / One foot in sea and one on shore, / To one thing constant never” ( 2.3.64 –67). 4

Much Ado is not unusual in its reiterated wordplay on horns, since jokes about the wearing of cuckolds’ horns are commonplace throughout the literature of this period. But, in the drama of the period, there is a marked disparity between the frequency of the jokes and the infrequency of wifely infidelity. Many more wives are falsely accused than are, in fact, guilty. This discrepancy between fears of betrayal and actual guilt suggests that we should focus less on the infidelity itself than on the real source of patriarchal anxiety, which was patriarchy’s inevitable dependence on (and inability to verify) the chastity of wives and mothers. For only such chastity secured a social structure based on legitimate inheritance of lands, wealth, property, rank, and name.

In Much Ado , I want to suggest, this patriarchal anxiety gives cuckoldry jokes a particular, local function. They work to resolve a social contradiction in Elizabethan society, a moment of double bind in the cultural history of marriage in which an authoritarian official tradition collided with an emergent ideal. Sixteenth-century English society had not yet dispensed with forms of overt, virulent misogyny inherited from medieval Catholicism which made marriage, especially for men, a less perfect way of life than celibacy. But it could not readily accommodate these inherited forms of misogyny to a post-Reformation celebration of marriage, particularly in its modern form of companionate, consensual unions in which the emotional satisfaction of both partners assumes new importance. Elizabethan society could not dispense with misogyny because the most general, even ancient function of antifeminist discourse is to justify patriarchy’s unequal distribution of power and property, its subordination of women. But virulent suspicion of wifely chastity—the kind of suspicion that destroys lives and marriages in Othello and The Winter’s Tale , for example—must have seemed incompatible with an emergent theory of marriage focused upon the initial consent of both partners and upon their long-term fulfillment of a set of mutual obligations which were in part material, in part emotional. 5 Even Don Pedro, in seeking to promote the marriage of Hero and Claudio, assumes that winning the consent of Hero comes before anything else: “I will break with her and with her father” ( 1.1.304 ), while Beatrice slyly urges her cousin not to say “Father, as it please you” but rather “Father, as it please me” ( 2.1.53 , 55 –56). If women’s feelings matter, then so, it would seem, do feelings about women: medieval misogyny and post-Reformation marriage theory could not comfortably coexist. From the tension between them, the double plots of Shakespeare’s comedy come into being.

Perhaps such a reading of Much Ado seems obvious. Any reader of the play can see how much of its action is devoted to overcoming, through Don Pedro’s theatrical manipulations, the resistance to love expressed by both Beatrice and Benedick. But to follow this reading to its logical conclusion will require the replacement of a character-based interpretation of the play with one which dissolves boundaries between the text as an autonomous work of art and the culture in which it is produced. Such a reading will attend to the widely dispersed misogyny in Elizabethan culture which speaks in and through Benedick, and to the effects of that misogyny as they register in Beatrice’s resistance. Thus, where I depart from traditional critics is in refusing to accept Beatrice and Benedick’s resistance to marriage as finally psychological in significance, even if it is expressed in psychological form in their language and behavior. I do not wish to explain resistance to marriage as idiosyncratic aspects of the personalities of Beatrice and Benedick, even though such resistance is what most sets them apart from their friends and kinfolk. Nor do I wish to interpret their eventual declarations of mutual affection as the manifestation of a hidden attraction that was there all along. I take their love as the creation of Don Pedro, who would “fain have it a match,” he says, to enliven the time between Claudio’s betrothal and nuptials by accomplishing a difficult thing. And presumably he also wishes to make sure that no person in his lordly jurisdiction escapes from the paradoxical cultural requirement to pair off freely .

But the uncomfortable truth is that, in a misogynistic culture, resistance to marriage is rational, not idiosyncratic, because misogyny—defined as the systematic denigration of women—gives men and women well-founded reasons to suspect one another. Beatrice and Benedick are given the function in this play of wittily enacting for our benefit the conventional postures of mutual antagonism so that their eventual union will seem both to ratify the irrational force of desire (no matter how it is brought into being) and to dissolve the larger social tensions exemplified by their mutual mistrust. Because, even though marriage might appear incompatible with individual peace of mind, it remains the basic form of social organization, the central distribution point in Elizabethan society for the social and sexual goods of adult maturity. This paradox about marriage may serve to explain why Don Pedro, rather than take a laissez-faire position with regard to the wooing and resistance to wooing in his midst, intervenes personally as head of the social order in the double matchmakings of Hero to Claudio, Beatrice to Benedick. Indeed, he has a notable, almost quantifying pragmatism with regard to affection, assuaging Claudio’s fear that his “liking might too sudden seem” with a breezy “What need the bridge much broader than the flood? / The fairest grant is the necessity. / Look what will serve is fit” ( 1.1.311 –13).

It is important for my argument to emphasize that the history of misogyny is also the history of romantic love, that cultivation of antifeminist feeling has, since the early twelfth century in Europe, coexisted with, indeed depended upon, a counterbalancing idealization of woman. As Howard Bloch has argued, “Misogyny and courtly love are coconspiring abstractions of the feminine whose function was from the start, and continues to be, the diversion of women from history by the annihilation of the identity of individual women . . . and thus the transformation of woman into an ideal.” 6 That is to say, the idealism of romantic love and the denigration of antifeminist rhetoric are alike in functioning to erase differences between women in order to make women anonymous and invisible to historical action. Such an erasure of differences in women is precisely what occurs in Benedick’s lines quoted above, where the distinct roles of mother and wife are subsumed into the one undifferentiated category, Woman. In the logic of misogyny, if one woman is treacherous, all women are condemned: “Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none.” The point is not only, as Harry Berger has argued, that “the difference between men and women in this respect . . . is that women are responsible for their sins but men are not.” 7 Even more crucial is to recognize the instability between a misogyny which posits all Women-as-the-Same and an idealization which posits Women-as-Different. 8 In the conversations between Claudio and Benedick—as in the similar conversations between Romeo and Mercutio—this instability in the categorization of women is easy to detect: “Can the world buy such a jewel” as Hero, idealist Claudio asks rhetorically. “Yea,” comes the misogynist’s bawdy reply, “and a case [vagina] to put it into” ( 1.1.177 –78).

essay about much ado about nothing

Indeed, this instability in the way women are categorized would seem to motivate the different rhetorics by which Benedick and Beatrice are each persuaded to love. While Benedick must be led to believe in Beatrice as Different from all other women, Beatrice must be brought to accept herself as just the Same. Hence Benedick is made to overhear a conversation among the men which describes Beatrice as a compendium of virtues—“an excellent sweet lady,” “out of all suspicion . . . virtuous,” “exceeding wise” ( 2.3.166 –68)—except for her dotage on Benedick. Beatrice, by contrast, learns from Hero and Ursula less about Benedick’s virtues than about her own faults, the chief of which is the nonconformity of resistance: “to be so odd and from all fashions / As Beatrice is cannot be commendable” ( 3.1.76 –77). Both resisters are asked to understand the other’s alleged passion as unwilled and uncontrollable—the real thing, in other words. Beatrice and Benedick experience their separate reactions to this surprising news as free and fortuitous. Benedick, on cue, vows to “be horribly in love with her” ( 2.3.237 ). Beatrice, stung by what she has overheard, thereupon commits herself to a course of action she names self-taming, “taming my wild heart to thy loving hand” ( 3.1.118 ). But we have heard Don Pedro gloat, “The sport will be when they hold one an opinion of another’s dotage, and no such matter” ( 2.3.218 –20), and we thus have reason to think otherwise about the relative freedom of their actions. We witness the conspirators glorying in the emotional transformations which, in the guise of “love gods” ( 2.1.377 ), they claim to have achieved; and we note in their language a deterministic vocabulary of contagion and entrapment. Claudio whispers to the Prince that Benedick has “ta’en th’ infection” ( 2.3.129 ); Hero and Ursula congratulate themselves on having “limed,” or trapped, Beatrice ( 3.1.109 ). Thus in the contrast between Beatrice and Benedick’s subjective experience of free choice in love and the undeniable presence of social manipulation in bringing them to imagine that freedom, we can recognize the powerful, because invisible, workings of ideological conditioning to make people act, so they think, naturally: “the world,” as Benedick grandiosely declares, “must be peopled” ( 2.3.244 –45).

essay about much ado about nothing

But since early modern English patriarchy required both marriage and misogyny, the social inscription that works so hard to create romantic love works equally hard to destabilize it. Thematic links between the two institutions of marriage and misogyny are emphasized because, in the double plot of Much Ado About Nothing , the actions to make and to break nuptials employ the same kinds of theatrical means. Shakespeare assigns the function of destroyer with evident symmetry to Don Pedro’s brother, Don John the Bastard, whose sense of self-expression in trying to abort the nuptials of Claudio and Hero matches Don Pedro’s in bringing them about. If the moral differences between the two brothers seem too insistently coded, that may be—as Jean Howard has argued—because the play is ambivalent about the social and moral function of theatrical practice. 9 By making the Iago-like Don John a bastard who is so determined to avenge his defeat at the hands of Claudio that he does not scruple to scapegoat Hero in the process, Shakespeare defines one kind of theatrical manipulation as evil, that is, as motivated by the urge to destroy. But is the moral character of Don Pedro’s delight in theatrical practices thereby enhanced? The answer to that question cannot be unproblematical, given that Don Pedro’s surrogate wooing of Hero leads to a series of early misapprehensions—that the Prince woos for himself; that Hero or her father might have preferred to accept the Prince’s suit; that love of women breeds mistrust between male friends because, as Claudio says, “beauty is a witch / Against whose charms faith melteth into blood [i.e., sensual appetite]” ( 2.1.177 –78). Nor does Don Pedro’s devotion to theatrical practice give him any advantage in seeing through his brother’s deception: when the Prince and Claudio witness the scene at Hero’s chamber window in which Margaret allows herself to be courted as Hero in Hero’s clothes, they see and hear only what Don John has prepared them to: “Go but with me tonight, you shall see her chamber window entered, even the night before her wedding day” ( 3.2.105 –7). The potential moral hollowness and material harm of theatrical practices are later emblematized, in this play, when Claudio stands before what we know to be an empty tomb to read an epitaph for Hero.

The play takes pains to construct Claudio as inexperienced and to emphasize the superficiality of a love which arises, he says, at a moment of postcombat mental vacancy:

 . . . now I am returned and that war thoughts

Have left their places vacant, in their rooms

Come thronging soft and delicate desires,

All prompting me how fair young Hero is,

Saying I liked her ere I went to wars.

( 1.1.296 –300)

The prolongation of courtship—which seems the goal of Shakespeare’s other conventional lovers such as Orlando in As You Like It , or even Romeo—holds no attraction for the two-dimensional Claudio, nor does Hero use the courtship period as Rosalind does in As You Like It to investigate the quality of her lover’s desire and imagination. The too-compliant Hero accepts the marriage proposal of a man in a mask and then learns to transfer her consent from the wearer of that mask, Don Pedro, to his young favorite. Claudio does not even plan to spend much time getting acquainted with Hero after their marriage and has to be told that his astonishing plan to accompany Don Pedro home to Aragon would be a great “soil in the new gloss of your marriage” ( 3.2.5 –6). (Indeed, the lovers’ activity of courtship as mutual interrogation is taken over in this play by Beatrice and Benedick. Even though this delight in mutual interrogation is one reason why we are conditioned to expect their eventual union, it is also the case that Beatrice and Benedick use the resulting information to bolster resistance to marriage and to improve their jests at each other’s expense.) Shakespeare uses Claudio’s passivity and inexperience as a wooer to rationalize the young count’s readiness to believe Don John’s slander of Hero and to prepare us eventually to forgive the misogynistic brutality with which he shames her before the assembled wedding guests:

O, what authority and show of truth

Can cunning sin cover itself withal!

Comes not that blood as modest evidence

To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,

All you that see her, that she were a maid,

By these exterior shows? But she is none.

( 4.1.35 –40)

Claudio’s willed commitment to reading Hero’s blush as “guiltiness, not modesty” ( 42 ) suggests that the real problem linking the two plots of the play is the collapse of the tension between women-as-different and women-as-the-same into one incoherent category of woman-as-different-from-herself. The audience then and the audience now are in a position to understand that widespread cultural suspicion of women, surrogate wooing, and Don John’s theatrical illusionism have combined to interrupt the wedding of Hero and Claudio. The audience is also in a position to appreciate the irony of Benedick and Beatrice relinquishing their resistance to marriage and exchanging protestations of love at the very moment when the grounds for mutual suspicion between the sexes seem to have widened. A subtler irony may reside in the complexities of Benedick’s situation as the lapsed misogynist learns of one danger in love he had not foreseen, one other rational reason to remain resistant. That is, even as he gives up misogyny and trusts Beatrice’s word for Hero’s innocence, he finds a new way in which love may be hazardous to one’s health: when he rashly asks Beatrice to “bid me do anything for thee,” she promptly replies, “Kill Claudio” ( 4.1.302 –3). “Ha! Not for the wide world,” comes his automatic reply.

The recuperative necessities of comic closure that will not allow Hero to die or remain dishonored by an unforgiven Claudio also prevent Benedick from having to follow up on the challenge he flings at Claudio and Don Pedro, from having to act irrevocably upon his decision to sacrifice old loyalties to male companions to new loyalties to his future companion in marriage. But the final entrance of the bridal party, with not just the reborn Hero but all the women wearing masks, suggests that the old cultural categories that produce suspicion and slander remain largely untouched by the theatrical manipulations of the Friar and the rapprochement of Beatrice and Benedick. Even the words of Claudio’s question, “Which is the lady I must seize upon?” ( 5.4.54 ) in their traditional suggestions of coercion and violence suggest the social manipulations that are required to separate men and women from the companionship of their own sex and precipitate them into the terrifying private world of heterosexual union for life. Perhaps this is why Benedick insists on ending the play not with a wedding but with the stately, regulated movements of a communal dance in which the couples move not singly, but together, and no man is yet wearing horns.

  • My emphasis. Note here that the original stage directions include the entrance of Leonato’s wife, Innogen, but that editors in this text like others omit her on the plausible ground that she has no words at all, appearing in the text no place but here and in the entrance direction for 2.1. This essay is much indebted to the essays by Carol Cook, Jean E. Howard, and Claire McEachern, which are cited in full in the suggestions for further reading.
  • See Carol Cook, “ ‘The Sign and Semblance of Her Honor’: Reading Gender Difference in Much Ado About Nothing ,” PMLA 101 (1986): 187.
  • For a brilliant application of this speech, see Harry Berger, Jr., “Against the Sink-a-Pace: Sexual and Family Politics in Much Ado About Nothing ,” Shakespeare Quarterly 33 (1982): 302–3.
  • Ibid., p. 308.
  • See Ralph A. Houlbrooke, English Family Life, 1576–1716 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988), pp. 15–17. For an extended discussion of seventeenth-century discussions of marriage conduct books, see Mary Beth Rose, The Expense of Spirit: Love and Sexuality in English Renaissance Drama (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988), pp. 116–31.
  • Howard Bloch, Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 196–97.
  • Berger, “Against the Sink-a-Pace,” p. 307.
  • On this categorical instability, see Peter Stallybrass, “Patriarchal Territories: The Body Enclosed,” in Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourses of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe , ed. Margaret W. Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy Vickers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), p. 133.
  • Jean E. Howard, “Renaissance antitheatricality and the politics of gender and rank in Much Ado About Nothing ,” in Jean E. Howard and Marion F. O’Connor, eds., Shakespeare Reproduced (London: Methuen, 1987), pp. 172–73.

Stay connected

Find out what’s on, read our latest stories, and learn how you can get involved.

Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Plays — Much Ado About Nothing

one px

Essays on Much Ado About Nothing

Prompt examples for "much ado about nothing" essays, deception and miscommunication.

Discuss the theme of deception and miscommunication in "Much Ado About Nothing." How do misunderstandings and false appearances drive the plot, and what are the consequences of these deceptions?

Love and Relationships

Analyze the various relationships and forms of love in the play. How do characters like Beatrice and Benedick, Hero and Claudio, and others experience and express love, and how do their relationships evolve?

Gender Roles and Stereotypes

Examine the portrayal of gender roles and stereotypes in "Much Ado About Nothing." How do characters conform to or challenge traditional gender norms, and what commentary does the play offer on gender dynamics?

Humor and Wit

Discuss the use of humor and wit in the play. How do characters employ clever wordplay, puns, and humor to engage and entertain the audience, and what is the significance of humor in the story?

Conflict and Resolution

Analyze the conflicts that arise in the play and how they are ultimately resolved. What role does forgiveness and reconciliation play in the resolution of misunderstandings and disputes?

Themes of Honor and Reputation

Explore the themes of honor and reputation in "Much Ado About Nothing." How do characters' actions and choices affect their social standing and reputation, and what does the play convey about the value placed on honor in society?

Conventional and Unconventional Relationships in Much Ado About Nothing

Benedick and beatrice relationship: a modern view, made-to-order essay as fast as you need it.

Each essay is customized to cater to your unique preferences

+ experts online

Trickery and Deception in Much Ado About Nothing

Female heroines in the much ado about nothing, research on much ado about nothing, 'man is a giddy thing': reason and emotion in much ado about nothing, let us write you an essay from scratch.

  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours

Interpretation of The Title in Much Ado About Nothing

Antagonistic relations between benedick and beatrice in much ado about nothing, the apparent versus the real in much ado about nothing, the character of dogberry in william shakespeare’s play "much ado about nothing", get a personalized essay in under 3 hours.

Expert-written essays crafted with your exact needs in mind

Exploring 'Subtext' in "The Crucible" and "Much Ado About Nothing"

Don pedro's character as a leading figure in much ado about nothing, homosociality in much ado about nothing and the merchant of venice, character portrayal of don john in much ado about nothing, tragic hero in much ado about nothing, the problem of male maturity in much ado about nothing, claudio as an unsympathetic character in much ado about nothing, the construction of heroines in shakespeare's comedy plays, born villain or made villain: bastardy theme in shakespeare's plays, don john's antithesis figure in much ado about nothing, love and marriage theme in shakespeare's comedies, deception: exploring its role in "much ado about nothing", honor and gender roles in much ado about nothing, gender roles in much ado about nothing.

1598-1599, William Shakespeare

The play revolves around two romantic pairings that emerge when a group of soldiers arrive in the town. The first, between Claudio and Hero, is nearly altered by the accusations of the villain, Don John. The second romance, between Claudio's friend Benedick and Hero's cousin Beatrice, takes centre stage as the play goes on, with both characters' wit and banter providing much of the humour. Through "noting" (sounding like "nothing", and meaning gossip, rumour, overhearing), Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into believing that Hero is not a maiden (virgin).

The play takes an ancient theme — that of a woman falsely accused of unfaithfulness — to brilliant comedic heights. Other important themes include gender roles, infidelity, deception, masks and mistaken identity, "nothing",

Benedick, Beatrice, Don Pedro, Don John, Claudio, Leonato, Antonio, Balthasar, Borachio, Conrade, Innogen, Hero, Margaret, Ursula, Dogberry, Verges, Friar Francis

Shakespeare used as his main source for the Claudio-Hero plot a story from Matteo Bandello’s Novelle (1554–73); he also may have consulted Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso and Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. The Beatrice-Benedick plot is essentially Shakespeare’s own, though he must have had in mind his own story of wife taming in The Taming of the Shrew.

“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.” “Let me be that I am and seek not to alter me.” “Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.” “For which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?”

1. Shakespeare, W. (2019). Much ado about nothing. In One-Hour Shakespeare (pp. 147-206). Routledge. ( 2. Jorgensen, P. A. (1954). Much ado about nothing. Shakespeare Quarterly, 5(3), 287-295. ( 3. Straznicky, M. (1994). Shakespeare and the Government of Comedy:" Much Ado About Nothing". Shakespeare Studies, 22, 141. ( 4. Cairncross, A. S. (1976). Shakespeare and Ariosto: Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, and Othello. Renaissance Quarterly, 29(2), 178-182. ( 5. Suzuki, M. (2016). Gender, Class, and the Ideology of Comic Form: Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night. A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare, 137-161. ( 6. Clegg, C. S. (2007). Truth, Lies, and the Law of Slander in Much Ado About Nothing. The Law in Shakespeare, 167-188. ( 7. Mueller, M. (1994). Shakespeare's Sleeping Beauties: The Sources of" Much Ado about Nothing" and the Play of Their Repetitions. Modern philology, 91(3), 288-311. ( 8. Wright, N. E. (2006). Legal Interpretation of Defamation in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Ben Jonson Journal, 13(1), 93-108. (

Relevant topics

  • Macbeth Ambition
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Hamlet Madness
  • Death of a Salesman
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Antony and Cleopatra

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy . We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

No need to pay just yet!

We use cookies to personalyze your web-site experience. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy .

  • Instructions Followed To The Letter
  • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
  • Unique And Plagiarism Free

essay about much ado about nothing

1. Shakespeare ( AQA GCSE English Literature )

Revision note, much ado about nothing: overview.

The Much Ado About Nothing question is part of Paper 1, Section A of your GCSE. For this, you are required to write one essay-length answer to one set question. This can seem daunting at first, but this page contains some helpful information and links to more detailed revision note pages that will enable you to aim for the highest grade. This page includes:

  • A summary of Much Ado About Nothing
  • A brief overview of what is required in the exam

Much Ado About Nothing characters

Much Ado About Nothing context

Much Ado About Nothing themes

Much Ado About Nothing quotes

  • Top tips for the highest grade

Much Ado About Nothing summary

Much Ado About Nothing is a romantic comedy written by Shakespeare in the late 1590s. It deals with love, deception and mistaken identity. 

Returning from battle, Don Pedro arrives at the house of Leonato with his men, including Claudio and Benedick. Claudio falls in love with Hero, Leonato’s daughter, and their marriage is agreed upon.

Benedick and Hero’s cousin, Beatrice, both despise love and engage in witty banter with each other. The others plot to make them fall in love with each other. Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother, Don John, contrives with his servant, Borachio, to spoil Claudio and Hero’s wedding by arranging for Claudio and Don Pedro to witness Borachio seducing Hero’s maid Margaret at Hero’s bedroom window. Mistaking Margaret to be Hero, Claudio believes he has been betrayed.

Claudio rejects Hero at the altar, but Friar Francis is convinced of Hero’s innocence and persuades Leonato to pretend that Hero is dead in order to give them time to clear her name. The nightwatchmen overhear a drunken Borachio confessing to the deception and the plot is exposed. When he hears of Hero’s innocence, Claudio, believing her to be dead, promises to make amends by agreeing to marry a cousin of Hero’s in her place. At the wedding, the bride is unmasked to be Hero herself. She and Claudio are married, and Beatrice and Benedick also confess their love for each other and agree to marry.

For a more detailed summary, please see the Much Ado About Nothing: Plot Summary page.

How is Much Ado About Nothing assessed in the exam?

  • Your GCSE Paper 1 requires you to answer two questions in 1hr 45min. That means you have approximately 52 minutes to plan, write and check your Much Ado About Nothing essay
  • Paper 1 is worth 64 marks and accounts for 40% of your overall GCSE grade
  • The Much Ado About Nothing essay is worth 34 marks in total, because it also includes 4 marks for AO4 (spelling, punctuation and grammar)
  • The Much Ado About Nothing question is in Section A of Paper 1 and you are required to answer the one available question on the play
  • Your question will also include a printed extract of about 25 lines from the play
  • It is a closed-book exam, which means you will not have access to a copy of the text (other than the printed extract) in your exam
  • The question will require you to analyse and write in detail about an aspect of Much Ado About Nothing
  • Your answer will need to address both the extract from the play that you will be given, and the play as a whole

For a much more detailed guide on answering the Much Ado About Nothing question, please see our revision notes on How to Answer the Shakespeare Essay Question .

The characters you should focus on when revising Much Ado About Nothing are:

When considering a Shakespeare play or any other text, it is crucial to remember that characters are intentionally crafted by the writer to serve a specific purpose. In many cases, these characters embody certain concepts or beliefs, and the writer, such as Shakespeare, uses them to reflect on and examine these ideas. For more details on how Shakespeare uses his characters in Much Ado About Nothing, please see the Much Ado About Nothing: Characters revision notes page. [insert link] 

Understanding what context actually is can be tricky at GCSE. Examiners understand context not as historical information or biographical facts about a writer, but as the ideas and perspectives explored by a writer through their text. Therefore, the Much Ado About Nothing context you should explore in your essay response is not information about Messina, or facts about William Shakespeare, but ideas about:

  • Gender Roles
  • Honour and Virtue
  • Harmony and Discord

Lots of these ideas and perspectives are universal, so your own opinions of them are valid and will be rewarded in an exam. For a detailed breakdown of the contextual topics listed above, see the Much Ado About Nothing: Context page

Understanding the themes that Shakespeare explores in Much Ado About Nothing is one of the best approaches any student can take when revising the play. This is because to get the highest mark on your exam, you need to take what examiners call a “conceptualised approach”: a detailed and perceptive exploration of Shakespeare’s ideas and intentions. The main themes explored by Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing are:

  • Gender Roles and Attitudes

Shakespeare explores numerous other themes in Much Ado About Nothing beyond those mentioned above and you are encouraged to examine these themes as well. However, the above list makes a great place to start and detailed breakdowns of each of these themes can be found on the Much Ado About Nothing: Themes page

Although you are given credit for including quotations from Much Ado About Nothing in your answer, it is not a requirement of the exam. In fact, examiners say that “references” to the rest of the play are just as valid as direct quotations: this is when students pinpoint individual moments in the play, rather than quoting what the characters say. In order to select references really successfully, it is extremely important that you know the play itself very well, including the order of the events that take place in the play. This detailed act-by-act breakdown [insert link] of the plot will help you to revise the chronology of Much Ado About Nothing.

However, it can also be useful to revise a few – very well selected – quotations from the play that can be used in a variety of essays on different themes and characters. Luckily, we have made that selection for you! For a ‘translation’ and detailed analysis of each of these quotations, see the Much Ado About Nothing: Key Quotations  page.

Top Tips for the Highest Grade

Please see our revision pages on the Shakespeare exam for guides on:

  • Structuring the Much Ado About Nothing essay  
  • Much Ado About Nothing methods and techniques  
  • How to include context in the Much Ado About Nothing essay
  • Understanding the Much Ado About Nothing mark scheme  
  • A Shakespeare model answer

Much Ado About Nothing William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Much Ado About Nothing.

Much Ado About Nothing Material

  • Study Guide
  • Lesson Plan

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 2363 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 11008 literature essays, 2773 sample college application essays, 926 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Much Ado About Nothing Essays

Shakespeare and homosociality: defying elizabethan comformity huong pham, much ado about nothing.

Although considered light and delightful entertainment, Shakespeare's plays of comedy often address serious issues confronting Elizabethan values of propriety and social decorum. Anti-Semitism, death and homosexuality are frequent themes woven in...

Note Notes, Forsooth, And Nothing: Themes in Much Ado About Nothing Anonymous

At first glance, the reader is not likely to notice the immediate clue which presents itself in the title of William Shakespeare's comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. If one, however, would follow the example of a Shakespearean player in Elizabethan...

Man Is a Giddy Thing Francis Grove-White

At the end of the play, Benedick reflects that " is a giddy thing." Referring in your answer to two or three key scenes in the play, explain why events in Messina might lead him to that conclusion.

In a play that so clearly focuses on the...

Don John as a Threat to Comedy in Much Ado About Nothing Barret Buchholz

The world presented in Much Ado About Nothing is populated mostly by noble characters: The Prince of Aragon, Lord Claudio, Lord Benedick, The Governor of Messina and his daughter and niece. These characters embody the courtly ideas of social grace...

To Be and Not To Seem in Much Ado About Nothing Timothy Sexton

Many characters in Shakespeare's plays disguise themselves in one way or another. An important component of many of the his plays is the masked revels. A character adopting a new outward persona is not at all unusual. This use of contrasting the...

The Art of Storytelling Anonymous

Picasso once said, "Art is lies that tell the truth." Art requires the suspension of reality or rather the ability to transcend the expected. In suspending that reality, however, greater truths can be addressed without the restrictions established...

Ends and Means Anonymous

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the prefix "sub-" to be "of something immaterial, a quality, state, etc," listing the root word "plot" as a term often associated with this definition. Therefore, to be a subplot means to be an immaterial...

Trickery and Deception: A Dish Best Served by Shakespeare Robin Bates

"Though those that are betrayed Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor Stands in worse case of woe" (Cymbeline, III.iv). Shakespeare's carefully crafted world of deception and trickery within Much Ado About Nothing thrives on deceitful...

How is the antagonistic yet potentially loving relationship between Beatrice and Benedick quickly established in Much Ado About Nothing? Mitchell Bibby

Although set in Messina, Italy, the conventions in Much Ado About Nothing are those of Elizabethan England, where marriage was seen as a business transaction and family stability was vital. This idea is explored through the fate of Hero, who has...

A Marxist study of Much Ado About Nothing Anonymous

Using the Marxist approach to one of Shakespeare’s comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, this essay deals with the unconscious of the text in order to reveal the ideology of the text (as buried in what is not said) so as to discover the hegemony...

Male Emotional Instability and the Criticism of the Conventional Relationship in Much Ado about Nothing Anonymous

Much Ado about Nothing focuses on the emotional development of two relationships that endure various levels of deception. Although both couples marry at the end of the play, the deception that occurs during the play exploits the emotional...

Bastardy in Shakespeare Rachel Clifford College

In four of Shakespeare's plays, he introduces a character who is illegitimate. Philip Faulconbridge, Don John, Thersites, and Edmund are all children who were born out of wedlock. Also, all four characters were antagonists, if not the main...

Shakespeare's Heroines Penny Morris College

Throughout the span of the comedies, Shakespeare allows his female characters to establish a greater amount of independence and freedom than they would have actually been allowed for the time period. This freedom is not necessarily a feminist...

Conventional and Unconventional Heroines in "Much Ado about Nothing" Anonymous 10th Grade

A central theme in "Much Ado about Nothing" is that of the literary tradition of a heroine within the social conventions surrounding women. The literary tradition of the time (and indeed, in many cases, up to the present day) bestows the...

Don John in Much Ado About Nothing Jarrett M. Guyer College

In Much Ado About Nothing, love is fickle and volatile. Several pairs of characters fall in and out of love at nearly a moment’s notice and a few accept their emotions without question. Many complex events cause these sudden emotional changes to...

A Contemporary View of Benedick and Beatrice keiran Potter 12th Grade

William Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing, brimming with metaphors and figurative clowning walks the line of comedy and tragedy. As Shakespeare flexes his exemplary wit which brands his work as so signature and formulaic; he brings probably the...

The Couple Doth Protest Too Much: Male Maturity in "Much Ado About Nothing" Anonymous College

Elizabethan men are not entirely different from some modern men, especially when it comes to their views on marriage, love, and sex. Many men still continue the double standard of expecting their partners to be virginal while they themselves are...

The Problem with Claudio: A Unsympathetic Character in Much Ado About Nothing Anonymous 10th Grade

Shakespeare’s light-hearted ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ explores both the triumph and tragedy which presents itself in the love of Hero and Claudio, using the latter as an easily deceived character whose errors almost culminate in a tragic ending to...

Benedick as an Entertaining Outsider Leigh Ann Cowan College

Benedick as an Entertaining Outsider

One of Much Ado About Nothing’s most beloved characters is Benedick, a willful and theatrical lord who vows to never be married. Throughout the play he demonstrates himself to be an entertainer to such an...

Instructive, Flawed, Important: Character Analysis of Don Pedro Anonymous College

Don Pedro is a very important character within Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, both within his own right and in terms of how he draws Shakespeare's other characters together. Often referred to as “the Prince” from Aragon (“No Fear”...

Shakespeare’s use of parallel characters in Much Ado About Nothing        Amelia Coen 11th Grade

A key element in Shakespearian comedy is the use of parallel characters; Shakespeare invites the audience to compare and contrast, often using characterization and language to highlight the similarities and differences between the characters in...

The Tale of Two Dogberrys: The Exploration of Masculinity in the Two Film Adaptations of “Much Ado About Nothing” Anonymous 11th Grade

“Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare brings to life the story of how Count Claudio and fair Hero prepare for their wedding and how Hero’s father, Leonato, and Claudio’s mentor, Don Pedro, choose to pass the time by deceiving Beatrice...

The Value and Typology of Friendship in 'Much Ado About Nothing' Anonymous 12th Grade

In 'Much Ado About Nothing', friendship is personified as the male bond (shared by Claudio, Don Pedro, and Benedick), female friendship (among Hero, Margaret, and Beatrice), and cross-gender friendship (between Benedick and Beatrice). It is...

Death, Resurrection, and Fidelity in Much Ado About Nothing: The Social Construct of Feminine Marital Virtue M Callaway College

Much Ado About Nothing, a comedy by William Shakespeare, was first preformed in 1612. The play is set in Messina, Italy that follows the couple Hero and Claudio. Hero is unjustly accused of unchastity that results in her and Claudio’s separation...

essay about much ado about nothing

Much Ado About Nothing

Guide cover image

59 pages • 1 hour read

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Act Summaries & Analyses

Character Analysis

Symbols & Motifs

Important Quotes

Essay Topics

Discussion Questions

Write a scene from Beatrice and Benedick’s backstory. What do you think happened between them the first time they fell in love? Draw evidence from their dialogue in Acts I and II to reconstruct their original love affair.

Don Pedro is an enigmatic figure. He is involved in the action of the plot, but also ends the play “sad” and alone. Imagine that you are playing the part of Don Pedro in a production of Much Ado About Nothing , and write an analysis of his character that explains his behavior. Why, for instance, does he offer to woo Hero for Claudio? How sincere is his proposal to Beatrice?

Why might Shakespeare have written Don John as such a broad, cartoonish villain? What purpose does his scheming serve, and how would the play work differently if he were a more rounded character? How does he compare to Borachio, who helps with his schemes but also feels guilt and regret?

blurred text

Related Titles

By William Shakespeare

All's Well That Ends Well

Guide cover image

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Guide cover image

Antony and Cleopatra

Guide cover image

As You Like It

Guide cover image

Henry IV, Part 1

Guide cover image

Henry IV, Part 2

Guide cover placeholder

Henry VI, Part 1

Guide cover placeholder

Henry VI, Part 3

Julius Caesar

Guide cover image

Love's Labour's Lost

Guide cover image

Measure For Measure

Guide cover image

Featured Collections

Books Made into Movies

View Collection

Comedies & Satirical Plays

Elizabethan Era

Loyalty & Betrayal

Required Reading Lists


Valentine's Day Reads: The Theme of Love

Beatrice From Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” Essay

  • To find inspiration for your paper and overcome writer’s block
  • As a source of information (ensure proper referencing)
  • As a template for you assignment

The dramatic comedy of Much Ado About Nothing is set in the coastal city of Messina on the island of Sicily in Italy. One of its main characters Beatrice, the witty heroine, is the cousin of Hero, who is Leonato’s daughter. Leonato is an affluent governor of Messina. Even though the main plot of the story is centered on challenges threatening to sabotage the union Hero and Claudio, Beatrice along with Benedick with their constant verbal jousting finds itself quite an interesting counter-plot (Anonymous).

Beatrice and Hero are very close but polar opposites. She appears to be the sense to Hero’s sensibility . They are only alike by virtue of their lineage and domicile. Beatrice’s cynicism is matched by Hero’s politeness; her witty and sharp behavior is juxtaposed against Hero’s respectful and gentle personality; and her feisty, spirited ways are tempered by Hero’s quiet reserve. Beatrice projects a hard impenetrable veneer however, beneath the layers lie a core of sheer vulnerability. Under the aggressive exterior laid a mesh of feminine sensibility.

Benedick, a Paduan lord, and soldier, constantly wage a battle of wits and dueling discourse with Beatrice throughout the story. She incessantly competes with Benedick to match wits and outdo one another with clever invective remarks. With a fantastic cache of raillery, Beatrice always surmounts as the victor. The story implies that she may have repressed feelings for Benedick, perhaps contributing to the constant feud between them. Beatrice can be described by some as being genuinely kind, winsome, and loving. Even though she and Benedick would frequently humiliate and mock others with their intricately woven web of sarcasm, derision, and clever remarks.

Beatrice is adamant to remain unmarried. Her views on marriage are riddled with cynicism. She feels that there exists no one who would support her attitude towards life. She figured herself to be too much of a liberated, renaissance woman to be subjected to the servitude of a husband. Her banter was laced with rebellion against social convention, but underneath she tacitly desired all the trappings of marriage. She finds the way women are treated to be quite disgusting, especially since she perhaps considers herself to be equal in intellect and abilities as any man. She has quite a strong opinion on women being treated as second-class citizens, which, is perhaps played out in her constant war with Benedick.

When her beloved cousin Hero is falsely accused of premarital dalliances with another than her betrothed, Beatrice gallantly comes to her defense. She lashes out at Hero’s fiancé Claudio for his mistrust and misrepresentation of her cousin. This further incensed her and she expressed her frustration about injustice to Hero and women in general. Her feelings were pronounced in the statement, “O that I was a man for his sake! Or that I had any friend would be the man for my sake!”… “I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving” (Hilton).

Beatrice could be described as a complex persona, schizophrenic psychology as the very thing she appears adamant about, is perhaps what she really desires. Her friendly banter with Benedick could be interpreted as hidden admiration. Her very interest in matching wits with him could be evidence of her desire to enjoy his company. Some may view her personality as unattractive and be put off, however, others will find her quite interesting and will only crave more and more.

Anonymous. Much Ado About Nothing – William Shakespeare- Analysis of Major Characters. 2008. Web.

Hilton, Jeremy. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. 2008. Web.

  • The "Much Ado About Nothing" Play by W. Shakespeare
  • Shakespeare’s Use of Comedy to Reveal Larger Human Truths
  • True Comedy: Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”
  • Moral Paradox in Wilde’s “Importance of Being Earnest”
  • Inheritance and Legacy: August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson"
  • Emotions and Outward Actions in Shakespeare’s "Macbeth"
  • France and England Relations in Shakespeare's "Henry V"
  • “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” by Moliere
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2021, October 15). Beatrice From Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”.

"Beatrice From Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”." IvyPanda , 15 Oct. 2021,

IvyPanda . (2021) 'Beatrice From Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”'. 15 October.

IvyPanda . 2021. "Beatrice From Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”." October 15, 2021.

1. IvyPanda . "Beatrice From Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”." October 15, 2021.


IvyPanda . "Beatrice From Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”." October 15, 2021.


  1. Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing Free Essay Example

    essay about much ado about nothing

  2. Much Ado About Nothing Scenes Analysis Free Essay Example

    essay about much ado about nothing

  3. Analysis of Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare Free Essay

    essay about much ado about nothing

  4. 'Much Ado About Nothing': Self-Awareness and Respect in Relationships

    essay about much ado about nothing

  5. William Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing Essay

    essay about much ado about nothing

  6. Essay( Much ado about nothing)

    essay about much ado about nothing


  1. Much Ado About Nothing

  2. "Chapter 17: Much Ado About Nothing" ~ PT2.2

  3. Much Ado About Nothing William Shakespeare directed by Thomas G. Waites at The Gene Frankel Theatre!

  4. "Much Ado About Nothing" Shakespeare; audio/abridged; w/ Pauline Jameson

  5. Much Ado About Nothing Act 3: scene 3

  6. Villains of Shakespeare


  1. Much ado about nothing

    Much ado about nothing is a romantic intriguing comedy written by William Shakespeare. By focusing on relationships, the author of the play highlights the impact of deception to unity, love and happiness. Deceitfulness is the device the characters use to either destroy or improve each other's lives. The love relationships are either build or ...

  2. A Summary and Analysis of William Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing

    Much Ado about Nothing: plot summary. At the centre of Much Ado about Nothing are two couples: Beatrice and Benedick and their friends, Hero and Claudio. The play takes place in Messina on the Italian island of Sicily. Don Pedro has defeated his evil brother Don John in battle, but has allowed him to live and has pardoned him.

  3. 'Much Ado About Nothing': Self-Awareness and Respect in Relationships Essay

    Much Ado About Nothing is a Shakespearean comedy written around 1598. The content of living joy, rich philosophy. The story's main themes are masks, disguises, or games, while the characters explore self-awareness, honesty, and respect in relationships. Get a custom Essay on 'Much Ado About Nothing': Self-Awareness and Respect in ...

  4. 83 Much Ado About Nothing Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

    The "Much Ado About Nothing" Play by W. Shakespeare. The high school is home to two pairs of young lovers: Roberto and Gianna, the star athlete and the head cheerleader, and Sofia and Angelo, the school's resident gossip and her sidekick. 'Much Ado About Nothing': Self-Awareness and Respect in Relationships.

  5. A Modern Perspective: Much Ado About Nothing

    This essay is much indebted to the essays by Carol Cook, Jean E. Howard, and Claire McEachern, which are cited in full in the suggestions for further reading. ... "Renaissance antitheatricality and the politics of gender and rank in Much Ado About Nothing," in Jean E. Howard and Marion F. O'Connor, eds., Shakespeare Reproduced (London ...

  6. Much Ado About Nothing

    New York: Twayne, 1992. Compact introduction to Shakespeare's comedy that is both critically sophisticated and accessible to the general reader. Essay on Much Ado About Nothing reveals various ...

  7. Much Ado About Nothing Essays

    There is a narcissistic self-centeredness infused throughout the Messina of Shakespeare's Much Ado. The "hero soldiers" of Don Pedro's cause are given to florid, self-congratulatory rhetoric ...

  8. Much Ado About Nothing: The Unsociable Comedy

    Much Ado About Nothing reminds us, both as title and play, that, though life is indeed serious, most human beings pass much of their time in little things, unseriousness; that the ordinary, social ...

  9. Much Ado About Nothing Essay

    Much Ado About Nothing is a work of literature that considers the question of whether human beings are capable of dealing with the rest of the world in a totally honest way, or rather has the human race managed to exist as long as it has by welcoming -- even embracing -- some forms of deception. "You seem to me as Dian in her orb / As chaste as ...

  10. Essays on Much Ado About Nothing

    4 pages / 2113 words. Much Ado about Nothing focuses on the emotional development of two relationships that endure various levels of deception. Although both couples marry at the end of the play, the deception that occurs during the play exploits the emotional instability of Benedick and Claudio: "One deception... Much Ado About Nothing.

  11. Much Ado About Nothing Essay

    Azeemah B L Jaulim 12th Grade. 'Much Ado About Nothing' is a captivating Shakespearean play which leaves the audience naturally puzzled over its genre. We keep pondering throughout the scenes whether its plot is a comedy or a tragedy. While the unfolding events underscore severe issues and a sense of repressed catharsis, Shakespeare wittily ...

  12. Much Ado About Nothing

    Paper 1 is worth 64 marks and accounts for 40% of your overall GCSE grade. The Much Ado About Nothing essay is worth 34 marks in total, because it also includes 4 marks for AO4 (spelling, punctuation and grammar) The Much Ado About Nothing question is in Section A of Paper 1 and you are required to answer the one available question on the play.

  13. Much Ado about Nothing by Shakespeare

    Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare Essay. At first sight, Much Ado About Nothing, a play written by Shakespeare, seems to be an ordinary tale about the life of high society with its intrigues, gossips, and love affairs. However, the writer would not have written this comedy unless he had wanted to disclose human vices and satirize the upper ...

  14. Much Ado About Nothing Critical Essays

    In Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick and Beatrice explore an unconventional path of love. Write an analytical essay on the lovers' journey in awareness, and the way in which Shakespeare uses ...

  15. Much Ado About Nothing Essays

    Much Ado About Nothing, a comedy by William Shakespeare, was first preformed in 1612. The play is set in Messina, Italy that follows the couple Hero and Claudio. Hero is unjustly accused of unchastity that results in her and Claudio's separation... You are on page 1 of 2. Much Ado About Nothing literature essays are academic essays for citation.

  16. Much Ado About Nothing Essay Topics

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt ...

  17. Beatrice From Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" Essay

    The dramatic comedy of Much Ado About Nothing is set in the coastal city of Messina on the island of Sicily in Italy. One of its main characters Beatrice, the witty heroine, is the cousin of Hero, who is Leonato's daughter. Leonato is an affluent governor of Messina. Even though the main plot of the story is centered on challenges threatening ...

  18. Much Ado About Nothing Critical Evaluation

    Critical Evaluation. PDF Cite. William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing has in fact very much to do with "noting" (an intended pun on "nothing") or half-seeing, with perceiving dimly ...