By Amanda Dodds
‘Shakespeare wrote his play in accordance with the conventions of an easily identifiable genre – history, comedy or tragedy.’ For centuries, William Shakespeare has been a beacon of storytelling genius. He has the ability to tell timeless stories that can be classified within the genres comedy, tragedy and history. Proving as relevant today as they were 500 years ago, these stories conform to certain elements that define what genre the story falls under. Comedies such as The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tragedies such as Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet and Histories such as King John and Henry V have all played a relevant role in defining the genres Shakespeare writes by. In particular, Shakespearean comedies hold prominence in obvious, recurring elements such as Mistaken Identity, Young lovers struggling to overcome obstacles and of course a happy ending, A prime example of this is his renowned comedy – ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy set in Messina, Italy about two contrasting duos; Claudio and Hero, and Benedick and Beatrice. Claudio and Hero are young lovers in which are practically are entwined in a young, true love, whereas Benedick and Beatrice are a couple who are introduced fighting in a flippant manner, to be eventually tricked into confessing their true feelings of love for one another. There original actions are caught in the line said by Leonato “There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her." (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 45) A meddlesome character, Don John the Bastard is displeased at such happiness and sets up a scenario which makes it seem young Hero has been unfaithful to Claudio, although she is oblivious to the matter. Nevertheless, the two couples end up happily married after some mistaken identity and an unsettling marriage ceremony. As far as a complete happy ending, thanks to a Constable who is the expert of malapropisms, Dogberry, Don John is captured and everything is wonderful once again in the city of Messina. The play very obviously shows rudiments of a Shakespearean comedy structure, the key elements being mistaken Identities, young lovers struggling to overcome obstacles and of course, the happy ending. A very prominent element of Shakespearean comedies and more specifically ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is the mistaken identity dilemma. The characters in the play face such quandaries on more than one occasion. The first case of mistaken identity occurs early in the story, when the masquerade ball takes place. Together Don Pedro and Claudio came up with a plan to ‘woo’ Hero, where Don Pedro disguises himself as Claudio and uses his charisma to court Hero. Don John, interferes in the affair by claiming Don Pedro has taken it upon himself to woo Hero; Hero however thinks it is Claudio; “Signor, you are very near my brother in his love,
he is enamoured on Hero, I pray you dissuade him for her,
she is no equal for his birth: you may do the part of an honest man in it.” (Act 2, scene 1. Line 121)
With this scene it is evident how Shakespeare has woven one of his famed comedic techniques into the play, an archetypal illustration of the “mistaken identity” crisis. Another example of this and possibly the most prominent of the story is Don John’s malicious plan in which leads Claudio to believe Hero is being unfaithful, when in reality it is just another woman. This is such a crucial plot point to the story, as it leads to the ruined marriage ceremony, and ultimately Hero’s fake death. Fundamentally, Don John earns his villain status from this certain act, as he convinces his follower, Borachio to engage in sexual relations with Margaret, Hero’s chambermaid. From there, he was instructed by Don John to participate in such acts in an obvious situation, calling her ‘Hero’ to make it seem as though Claudio’s fiancé was being adulterous. As planned, Don John leads Claudio to the window and...