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MonkeyNotes-Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
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Act V, Scene 3

As Leonato had advised, Don Pedro and Claudio visit the tomb where Hero is believed to be buried. Claudio hangs an epitaph on the tomb and Balthasar sings an elegy to the "dead virgin."


Notes

Much Ado about Nothing is a play of ritual, of dances, the wedding ritual and one of apparent death. In this scene Shakespeare gives Claudio a chance to give vent to his grief and remorse. Ritual is necessary to convince the reader of the transformation of that takes place in Claudio's character, so that he actually deserves lovely Hero back after his shameful treatment of her. Claudio emerges purified, having atoned for his guilt. It lessens his depression and relieves his mourning. With the change in his attitude he is now willing to marry any woman, chosen by Leonato without having seen her, whether she is fair or not.

The situation can be compared to the purified return in the forest of Arden in As You Like it or the weird happenings in Prospero's island in The Tempest. The backdrop lends a convincing authenticity to Claudio's change in attitude. There is affection and awe at the sight of the family vault, the silent black-robed figures in procession, tapers flickering in the surrounding darkness, elegiac musk, slow dirge and the mourners circling the tomb. A strong sense of the presence of spirits in the midnight can be felt in this scene. At this meeting place of death and spirits, the living can experience a changing moment in their lives. They emerge purified.

The mood of the play (a combination of seriousness and mirth) reigns here. The Benedick/Beatrice plot moves in a dance like rhythm, Beatrice withdrawing from the scene and Benedick pursuing her.

Claudio's presence in the tomb is full of sobriety and repentance. The rhymes are etched in unrelieved gloom -- "woe", "go", "moan" and "groan." But the audience can guess that the comic spirit will soon prevail with the advent of dawn.

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