Gossip and Deceit in Much Ado About Nothing

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Gossip and Deceit in Much Ado About Nothing Much Ado About Nothing is primarily a play about gossip. Indeed, the title means a big fuss about a trifle, and by the end, this is exactly what happens. All accusations will come to nothing, causing the play to end the same way as if they never occurred at all. Shakespeare brilliantly plays on the meanings of nothing throughout this play. The word "nothing" would actually have been pronounced "noting" in his time. It can mean worthless, a person of little worth, or also mean everything, in the sense that much ado is made about everything (Smith). Much of the plot is moved along by characters eavesdropping on a conversation and either misunderstanding what they overhear or being deceived by gossip or by a trick. Gossip in Much Ado About Nothing is an occurring theme throughout the play. Every character is guilty of spreading gossip either for a positive purpose like Claudio, Hero, and Don Pedro or for a negative purpose like Don John and his henchmen. Benedick and Beatrice have had a bantering "merry war" of words for the longest time. Claudio and Don Pedro conceive a plan to unite these two obvious lovers. It is apparent to their friends that they are meant to love each other. Claudio and Prince Don Pedro use an interesting plan to make the two enemies fall in love. As Benedick is reading in the garden, Claudio, Don Pedro and Leonato begin walking in the garden talking about some gossip of Beatrice's secret love for Benedick. Benedick hides quickly in the bushes when he hears his and Beatrice's name mentioned. The three gentlemen know that Benedick is hiding and, of course, listening to their conversation. Leonato tells the other two men that his niece, Beatrice, confessed to him that she is madly in love with Benedick. Leonato says, "she loves him with an enraged affection, it is past the infinite of thought" (Shakespeare, II iii 108). Beatrice can't tell him for fear of being mocked by him. They


Cited: Doyle, John and Lischner, Ray. Shakespeare for Dummies. New York: Wiley Publishing, 1999 Lucking, David. "Bringing Deformed Forth meaning in Much Ado About Nothing." Renaissance Forum. University of Leece. 15 Nov. 2005 http://www.ac.uk/Hull?EL_web/renforum/v2no1/lucking.htm. Mowat, Barbra and Werstine, Paul. Folger Shakespeare Library: Much Ado About Nothing. New York: Washington Square Press, 1995 Smith, J. N.. "GradeSaver: ClassicNote: Much Ado About Nothing." www.gradesaver.com. 29 November 2005. GradeSaver. 29 November 2005 http://www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/titles/muchado/section3.html. Zinter, Sheldon. The Oxford Shakespeare: Much ado about Nothing. New York: Oxford Press, 1993

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