Counter Plot: Sir John the Bastard seeks to foil the marriage
Don Pedro woos Hero for Claudio
Don Pedro’s plan to trick B and B into falling in love
Don John and his men agree on a plan to trick Claudio
Beatrice tricked by Hero and Ursula
Don John tells Don Pedro that he can prove Hero is unfaithful
The nightwatch overhear and capture the conspirators
Hero and Benedick are in love
The watch try to tell Leonato about Borachio’s arrest but he doesn’t understand
Benedick and Beatrice confess love
Benedick challenges Claudio
Guards question Borachio and Conrade
Benedick issues a challenge to duel
Dogberry enters with prisoners and truth is revealed
Claudio sings an epitaph at Hero’s tomb and is to marry her niece
Hero arrives at wedding masked
B and B to marry out of mutual pity
Claudio is forgiven by all and a double marriage arranged
Does the play present a true depiction of love? Compare and contrast the two loving couples, Hero and Claudio and Beatrice and Benedick.
How has love and marriage changed from the era of the play to the present?
Catholic ideas of chastity and marriage and women
Reformation ideas of love and women
Play reflects the tension of these two world views
What choice or role do women have with respect to love? (Hero, Beatrice). Why do the mothers of the two heroines not appear in the play? How would it be different if they did?
Is Don John’s deception for the purpose of dissolving love worse than the deception of the others to create love?
1) Prince woos falsely for Claudio
2) Claudio/Prince/Leonato trick Benedick
3) Hero/Ursula trick Beatrice
4) Borachio/Don John trick Claudio
5) Friar/Hero/Leonato pretend Hero is dead
Why do fools (Doggberry et al) see truly what the nobles do not?
Do education and culture make us more susceptible to deception in some ways?
How do the various deceptions work? Don’t they play upon people’s pre-conceptions?
Why is the play “Much Ado about Nothing?” The plot almost leads to a family disgraced, political strife, friends ready to duel. It seems like serious business about Something!
Like many Shakespeare comedies, the play includes abundant joking and punning surrounding female infidelity. For all the jokes about cuckoldry, the play seems to take this issue seriously as the suggestion that Hero was not faithful has severe consequences. How is it possible for something the culture takes so seriously to be such a common motif for humor in the play?
Scenes of Infidelity and Misogyny
1.1.102-3: Leonato implies that the legitimacy of Hero is based on her mother’s assertions
1.1.234-40: Benedick trusts no woman
5.4.126: Don Pedro tells B. to “get thee a wife. There is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn.”
Why the focus on Female Infideltity in a Love/Marriage Comedy?
Common motif in Shakespeare and the era
Othello; Winter’s Tale
Male anxiety about wifely fidelity in an era when “legitimate inheritance of lands, wealth, property, rank, and name” are at stake.
Society order requires a marriage as much as dramatic closure; female infidelity is a natural dramatic tension to exploit.
“ Much Ado about Nothing” is really much ado about something very important—marriage and female fidelity– the cornerstone of social stability. The contrasting couples shows two competing views: one naïve and idealistic, the other experienced and realistic. Yet the theme of deception complicates this reading too. Beatrice and Benedick were tricked into loving—are they really so discerning? How can one deception be good and another bad? Is the theatre itself, a place where deception flourishes, compromised? In the end this play raises more questions than it answers.