Much Ado about Nothing

Context -Elizabethan era (1556-1603) -Written and performed 1598-99-Late 16th century-A lot of fuss about something inconsequential-Nothing=Indefinite pronoun-Play on ‘noting’ (abstract noun) meaning to eavesdrop-‘No thing’ (determiner/abstract noun) meaning vagina so Elizabethan sexual innuendo-Marriage symbolises harmony and order and provides conventional ending to Elizabethan comedy that audience would expect
Why it’s a comedy -Pun/wit and play on words-Stereotypical comic characters-Happy ending
Themes -Romance/love-Gender/relationships-Deception-Appearance vs reality-War and order-Honour
Dramatic techniques -Dramatic irony (Gulling of Beatrice and Benedick)-Malapropism (Dogberry disassembly/assembly)-Juxtaposition (Don John and Don Pedro)
Why is marriage important? -Deception-Necessary to the central characters -Courtship/courtly love-Claudio and Hero/Beatrice and Benedick
Leonato Act 1 Scene 1: “a kind of merry (pre mod) war (ab noun)” 16th cent love of witty exchange saying love/relationships are like a battlefield”a skirmish of wit” oxymoronAct 4 Scene 1:-“Dear my lord, if you in your own proof” Use of pronoun lord showing honour. Ironic as appearance vs reality he has no real proof-“Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes” Imperative suggesting she should die because his honour has been lost
Beatrice Act 2 Scene 1: -“he’s the prince’s jester:a very dull (pre mod) fool” about Benedick saying he’s a joke and uninteresting-“Indeed he lent it me a awhile” Suggest previous relations-“civil as an orange” jealousAct 3 Scene 1 (Beatrice’s gulling):-“Benedick, love on; (imperative) I will requite thee” she wants to return the love to BenedickAct 4 Scene 1:-“my cousin is belied!” Exclamative stating that Hero is innocent-“Kill Claudio” Simple imperative for Benedick to prove his love to herAct 5 Scene 4:-“Do not you love me?” Interrogative and insecure-“no more than reason” Too embarrassed to say to his face that she loves Benedick
Benedick Act 1 Scene 1:-“my dear Lady Disdain! (exclamative) are you yet living? (interrogative)”-“I will live a bachelor” simple sentence making clear marriage isn’t for himAct 2 Scene 1:-“She speaks poniards and every word stabs” poniards meaning daggers/nasty things. About Beatrice. Dynamic verb ‘stabs’ sarcasm that her words hurt him-“I would not marry her” negated verb ‘not’. No previous mention of marriage to BeatriceAct 2 Scene 3 (gulling of Benedick):-“become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love” How can you change from falling in love. Part of prose soliloquy -“rich she shall be” Money is important (soliloquy)-“they say the lady is fair; tis a truth” Seeing the beauty of Beatrice for the first time/courtly love. Dynamic verb ‘fair’ seeing how pretty she is-“I will be horribly in love with her” negated adverb of manner ‘horribly’ suggests he might not be happy about it. First time admitting it-“she’s a fair lady” see aboveAct 4 Scene 1:-“I do love nothing in the world so well as you” HyperboleAct 5 Scene 1:-“It’s in my scabbard shall I draw it?” Rhetorical question to take the mick out of Claudio-“You have killed a sweet lady”..”You killed a sweet and innocent lady” Pre mod suggesting he favours Hero/for Beatrice’s sake. Repeated to reinforce/ make Claudio feel guiltyAct 5 Scene 2:-“I love thee against my will” Isn’t natural that he loves BeatriceAct 5 Scene 4:-“Do not you love me?” Interrogative and insecure-“no more than reason” Too embarrassed to say to her face that he loves Beatrice
Claudio Act 1 Scene 1:”Can the world buy such (determiner) a jewel? (concrete noun)” objectification/possession of women/ male dominance and courtly love”she is the sweetest lady” uses determiner Act 2 Scene 3:”Bait the fish well; this fish will bite” talking about Benedick during gulling. Benedick is being deceivedAct 4 Scene 1 (Hero accused):-“Leonato, take her back again” Imperative and shows Hero like a possession of Leonato/Claudio-“Give not this rotten (pre mod) orange to your friend” Hero is corrupted by another man. She is stale/a whorre-“She’s but the sign (not a virgin) and semblance of her honour” Sibilance of abstract nouns. Both phrases are sexist/ prejudice and show it’s okay for men not women to have pre-marital sex-“She knows the heat (ab noun) of a luxurious (pre mod) bed” Concrete noun phrase. She’s had sex/slept around before. -“Her blush is guiltiness not modesty” ironic because he’s wrong. Appearance vs reality-“Not to knit (dynamic verb) my soul to an approved wanton (archaic concrete noun)” Metaphor to say he won’t marry someone whose already had sexAct 5 Scene 1:-“Wilt thou use thy wit?” Interrogative-“Sweet Hero!” Exclamatory after realising she wasn’t lying and is now ‘dead’Act 5 Scene 3:-“the Hero that here lies” Dramatic irony as she isn’t really dead
Hero Act 2 Scene 1:”He is of a very melancholy disposition” pre mod used to describe sadnessAct 3 Scene 1 (gulling of Beatrice):-“greedily (adverb of manner) devour the treacherous (pre mod) bait” Beatrice is being deceived-“Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps” Death to describe love. Trapping Benedick shows reverse of gender rolesAct 4 Scene 1:-“Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death!” Tripling of exclamatory imperatives showing her shame
Antonio Act 2 Scene 1:”I trust you will be ruled by your father” showing gender roles and male dominance in 16th cent
Don John Act 1 Scene 3:”I cannot hide what I am””I am trusted with a muzzle” Contradiction as only trusted with something that keeps you quietSemantic field relating to dogs “claw, sleep, muzzle, bite””the most exquisite Claudio” use of superlative and pre mod adjective to be sarcasticAct 3 Scene 2:-“the lady is disloyal” deception of Hero being unfaithful to Claudio
Don Pedro Act 2 Scene 1:-“you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick” Implying that Benedick did like her previouslyAct 5 Scene 4:-“Benedick, the married man?” Surprised that Benedick is considering marriage
Dogberry Act 4 Scene 2:-“Has our whole disassembly appeared?” Malapropism showing satire effect as should’ve been ‘assembly’. Interrogative
Borachio Act 2 Scene 2:-“a contaminated stale” pre mod meaning STI and concrete noun ‘stale’ meaning prostitute talking about Hero-“all the preparation overthrown” Everything will be wrecked
Margret Act 3 Scene 4:-“‘Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a man” Foreshadowing B+B’s relationship?-“there’s goodly catching of cold” Sick with love