Much Ado About Nothing opens in a liminal situation with a war that has just ended. The men enter a "golden world" in Messina where the women are already located. In this situation, people fail to take things seriously, causing the war of the wombs to soon turn into a war of words. Benedick and Beatrice are the main examples of male/female rivalry that converts into belligerent wordplay.
The first act portrays all the characters as being very careful to observe social norms, especially those of civilian obligations to the military. This creates a mask of politeness that slowly dissipates throughout the play until by the end there is nothing but directness of speech left. However, the first exchange between Leonato and Don Pedro is a model of politeness, with each man dismissing the problems of having guests for a month as being meaningless. Don Pedro further catalyzes the entire plot by carefully maneuvering the conversation towards Hero, Leonato's daughter.
Don Pedro: "Good Signor Leonato, are you come to meet your
trouble? The fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you
Leonato: "Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of
your grace; for trouble being gone, comfort should remain, but
when you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness takes
Don Pedro: "You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this
is your daughter.
Leonato: Her mother hath many times told me so" (1.1.77-86)
Much Ado About Nothing is primarily a play about gossip.Indeed, what does the title mean? It indicates a big fuss about a trifle, and by the end this is exactly what happens. All of Claudio's 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...
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