Much Ado About Nothing Notes

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Much Ado About Nothing—Romantic Comedy

* Much Ado about Nothing
* Love and War; Love as War—starts with soldiers coming back from war and wanting love; love becomes a battlefield * Young Lovers: Claudio and Hero
* “Not(h)ing” Messina: Confusions of Appearance and Reality * Love and War; Love as War
* 1.1: World waiting for the return of youth and love
* Learn of soldiers even before they enter scene:
* Youthful Claudio, ll.12-16
* Benedick (older man) introduced by Beatrice, ll.28-9—he is being introduced by mockery; Beatrice makes the joke and marks her different from the other women in the play—she is loud, jokes about men, able to fight with words, witty, and Benedick is the same way * Beatrice and Benedick’s “merry war,” ll.56-9

* Martial world replaced by “merry” one
* What happens when skills necessary for success on the field of battle enter domestic world? * Romantic Couples
* Potential Lovers:
* Claudio and Hero (make up the main plot, but some of the least interesting characters in the play—relatively quiet) * Beatrice and Benedick (subplot—more mature, more worldly, and they are much more talkative/interesting) * Claudio and Hero:

* Claudio’s first line in play introduces interest in Hero, l.l.154-70; “Note”: * To take notice of; to consider or study carefully; to pay attention to; to mark (OED 5.a) * To become aware of; to notice or perceive mentally; to be struck by (OED 5.b) * Claudio and Hero

* Nature of Claudio’s love? ll.278-289
* Contrast between affections prior to and post military action * Hesitancy to use the word “love”
* Don Pedro’s plan (ll. 300-312):
* Disguise (Pedro says he will disguise as Claudio for the ball and approach Hero) * seduction as military action
* World of the Play: Messina
* Place of propriety and hospitality:
* Disguise, deceit runs rampant through play
* Inability to distinguish between appearance and reality predominant feature of life in the world of play

1) “Not(h)ing” Messina: Confusion of Appearance and Reality 2) Educating Young Lovers: From Appearances to Faith
3) Merry Warriors: Beatrice and Benedick

* World of the Play: Messina
* Gossip—Overhearing, mishearing, and eavesdropping—central to play * “Nothing” and “noting”: to take notice of; to consider or study carefully; to pay attention; to mark (OED 5.a) * Pedro’s plan to woo for Claudio sets off chain reaction of misapprehensions: * 1.2: Antonio tells Leonato that Pedro plans to woo Hero for himself (when in reality, Claudio is trying to woo her) * 1.3: Borachio overhears Pedro and Claudio discussing plan, tells Don John the Bastard (Don John gets the story right!) * 2.1: Wooing by proxy

* Masquerade/Disguise (dance to welcome back the soldiers) * Deceiving Claudio: Don John and Borachio, ll.155-63 (they pretend he is Benedick) * Claudio’s soliloquy ll.164-74
* Does not question what he has been told: “Tis certain so.” (The prince woos for himself) * Love as impediment to friendship
* “Eye as lover (synecdoche: “A figure by which a more comprehensive term is used for a less comprehensive or vice versa; as whole for part or part for whole, genus for species or species for genus, etc. (OED)) * Goes simply by what he sees

* Valediction (or rejection) to Hero
* Leonato (Hero’s father) gives Claudio Hero’s hand, ll.285-299 * Couple silent, must be prompted to speak
* Beatrice cues them to speak
* Hero is silent: sense of youthful embarrassment or confusion * they are overwhelmed and ignorant
* Educating Young Lovers: From Appearances to Faith
* “False” Hero, Take Two: Don John’s spectacle of infidelity * Claudio’s problem with trust, 3.2.111-3
* Shame Hero publicly: In plain view of all
* 4.1: Broken Marriage Ceremony
* Claudio returns bride to father ll.29-41:
* The blush: sign of innocence or...
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