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MonkeyNotes-Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
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PLOT (Structure)

The events of the play are linearly fashioned, taking place in straightforward chronological order. There are two major stories running parallel in the plot: the Hero/Claudio love story, and the Beatrice/Benedick love story. The minor plot is the Dogberry/Verges comedy. All three plots come together in the climax and final scenes of the play.

Structurally, Much Ado About Nothing is a typical five-act Shakespearean play. Each act has two, three, or even four scenes. All the action takes place in Messina, in and around the governor's palace. The author uses some verse and a lot of prose in crafting the speeches of the characters.

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THEME

Love and marriage are the two most prominent ideas in the comedies of Shakespeare, and Much Ado About Nothing is no exception. The play ends with a double marriage--the union between a fair young woman and a heroic war soldier, and the passionate match of a firebrand bachelorette to her avowed bachelor. Ideas of loyalty and trust are interspersed throughout the Claudio-Hero union; Claudio shows little loyalty or trust but is made repentant before the marriage can take place. As for the Beatrice/Benedick union, there is a strong sense of the uncontrollable unpredictability of love. Neither would like to admit they have fallen for each other, but they have little if any choice in the matter.


Since the play is a comedy, there is little room for heavy Themes and weighty issues. However, Shakespeare does toy with some important ideas and situations in the play that are worth noting. The contrast between appearance and reality is a recurrent theme in Shakespeare's plays, and the "noting", or observing without full understanding, that takes place in Much Ado About Nothing is no exception. At every juncture in the plot of this play, there is a contrast between what seems to be the case and what really is. In fact, the situation of a masquerade ball is a typical symbol for the theme of appearance versus reality. Often in the play, characters are confused by the appearance of things. For example, in the opening moments of the play, Don Pedro appears to court Hero for himself. Benedick appears to be totally averse to marriage. Beatrice appears to dislike Benedick immensely. Later, Hero appears to be unfaithful at the chamber-window at night. Even later, she appears to be dead. In every instance, however, all the appearances mean nothing in the final outcome of the play.

The second issue or idea that comes to the forefront when discussing theme is the idea of "much ado". Throughout the play, great pains are taken to insure various outcomes. First of all, Don John has led a rebellion against his brother Don Pedro, even before the action of the play. He is duly defeated and his pains lead to nothing. Antonio prepares Leonato for Don Pedro's courtship of Hero, since his servant thinks he heard this was the case. Leonato prepares Hero. Don John plants the seeds of doubt in Claudio, who is very angry with his friend and his beloved. The misunderstanding is cleared up and the fuss leads to nothing. Beatrice and Benedick swear off romance and love in every scene in which they are present. All their big talk leads to nothing, since in the end, they marry just like Hero and Claudio. The theme of all this is simple: much ado leads to nothing. Some things cannot be controlled no matter how much one fusses and plots. Again, it applies to the union of Beatrice and Benedick, who try with all their might to control the forces of romance and love. After all the plotting and planning, whatever happens, happens.

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