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MonkeyNotes-Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
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Notes

This is the first of many scenes involving "much ado about nothing"-that is, a lot of confusion, chaos, and potential tragedy results in no major incident or trauma. It begins with a masked ball, which is the perfect situation for issues of concealment, confusion, misunderstandings, and mistaken identity. Every major player takes part in some masquerade, whether it is through disguise or through deceit. Clearly, Messina is a place where a character could at any moment assume a mask and display a different persona, screening his own identity and motivations.

The first "ado" is the fuss over the courtship of Hero. In the first act, a plot is contrived wherein Don Pedro will seek the hand of Hero on behalf of Claudio. A servant misunderstands the plan and thinks Don Pedro will court her for himself. A villainous Don John realizes the mistake, but uses the incorrect assumption as the basis of his plot to ruin Claudio. During the actual courtship, Don Pedro acts according to plan and succeeds in winning Hero for Claudio. But Claudio is fooled into believing the ill-conceived and eventually executed plot, and thinks his friend Don Pedro has betrayed him. In the end, all the assumptions and mistakes have very little consequence, for Don Pedro announces that Hero is won for Claudio, and the friends are reunited in their happiness.


The second "ado", which is the fussing of Beatrice and Benedick, will take much longer to dissolve into nothing, but gets part of its momentum in this scene. Beatrice's strong aversion to marriage or living with a domineering husband is revealed here. She repeatedly declares herself a maiden, never to marry. She spars with Benedick every time the two of them meet-even when he is disguised as someone else. Benedick increases the degree of fussing, by allowing Beatrice to think he is someone else. Dressed as someone else, he leads her to believe that Benedick has insulted her by calling her disdainful. Angered, she increases the animosity between them by telling the "stranger" that Benedick is a fool. In the end, of course, the two are destined to fall in love and marry. For this scene, however, they are still very much in the "ado" stages of their relationship.

As a side-note, the plot to bring together these two verbal warriors is born in this scene. Once the two avowed bachelors have gone away, their friends discuss the importance of bringing the two of them together. They know the task will not be easy, so they begin to plan. The "ado" involving Beatrice and Benedick is about to grow larger.

Some interesting character revelations and reinforcements take place in this scene as well. Many of the characters, like Beatrice and Benedick, remain constant in their ideas, speech, and action; this constancy reinforces the characterizations of them developed in Act I. However, others reveal new and sometimes unwelcome characteristics. Claudio, for example, reveals his own naïve gullibility. He believes Don John when he says that Don Pedro is wooing Hero for himself. At once, he is thrown into a bitterly unhappy mood, denouncing both friend and loved one. However, when he realizes his breach of faith, he acts as if nothing happened-as if he never doubted them at all. Though Claudio is still a noble warrior and a likeable character, the audience is cautioned here of his easy gullibility.

A significant plot development has its earliest beginnings here. Later, Hero's attendant Margaret will take part in a plot to break up the relationship between her lady and Claudio. The first tie between her and the evil Borachio is here, when she flirts with him at the ball. It is a brief moment, but its significance comes later in the story.

Beatrice draws a very enchanting parallel in this scene between dancing a Scottish jig and romance. The dance of love is made up of wooing, wedding, and repenting. The first, wooing, is "hot" and "hasty", full of unstoppable passion. It is full of sentiment and the "fantastical." In contrast to this, the wedding is a controlled event; feelings are controlled as per etiquette "mannerly - modest, as a measure" with its grand and "ancient" convention. The repenting comes later, when the men regret their choice to marry. The edifice of marriage falls on its "bad legs", "faster and faster till he sink into his grave."

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MonkeyNotes-Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
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