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Act III Scene ii Consider the dramatic significance of this episode in the play

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Introduction

Act III, Scene ii, from line 72 'My Lord and brother, God save you!' to the end of the scene. Consider the dramatic significance of this episode in the play. (750 words) As an audience, we can foresee the sinister turn of events which will be marked by the appearance of Don John in the latter part of this scene. Having earlier witnessed the deceitful and slanderous plot conjured up between he and Borachio during their discussion, implementation of the plan seems imminent. And yet the descent from the comedy of Benedick trying to pass off his love-sickness as toothache to the threatened tragedy of Hero's slander is perhaps far more rapid than we might have anticipated. The earlier jovial mockery of Benedick by Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio provides a striking contrast with the underlying malice of the deliberately ambiguous and disparaging remarks from Don John. Yet such ambiguity seduces Claudio and Don Pedro in a remarkably similar way to the double meanings and innuendo which deceived Benedick earlier on. ...read more.

Middle

A dramatic irony here ensures the audience's perception of this as a further ruse whilst for the seemingly na�ve and gullible Claudio and Don John, it makes the hurried offer of immediate visual evidence irresistible; 'Go but with me tonight, you shall see her chamber-window entered', a crude vaginal symbol is used to further offend the newly enamoured Claudio, who in his youthful inexperience has believed in his betrothed's virginity. Their melodramatic exclamations in response to this, one after another, serve to indicate ironically how they, who tricked Benedick, have been no less suddenly transformed. Claudio asks rhetorically 'May this be so?' and vows if it is, '...should not marry her tomorrow in the congregation, where I should wed, there I will shame her'. The marked use of sibilants serves to emphasise his fury, suggesting suspicion and fear to be the other side of Claudio's idealisation and the aggressive denunciation may arise from a personal insecurity urging him to make such a pledge. In Messina sexual relations are complicated by conventions and illusions, Claudio has already tried and found Hero guilty before even witnessing the evidence. ...read more.

Conclusion

Whilst for an audience of the twenty-first century this continued credulous behaviour might seem somewhat contrived, we must consider that Don John, a melodramatically sketched, stereotypical villain, serves a thematic and narrative function. His role is principally to expose the flaws within others, namely his brother Don Pedro and Claudio and highlight the shared immorality in his companions Conrade and Borachio as well as present themes of slander, noting, jealousy, honour, illusion and reality. Since the major complication of the play arises from Claudio's denunciation of Hero on the basis of Don John's trickery, and in fact therefore 'nothing' at all, the use of such a villain as a dramatic device is crucial. Whilst only a brief episode in the play; the significance of the latter part of this scene is paramount to future events. The timing of the episode is most significant as Shakespeare distinguishes misunderstanding and misreport from deliberate and malicious deceit. We prepare ourselves for a potentially tragic consequence yet with the benefit of dramatic irony, remain optimistic that as the title suggests, this will again prove to be 'much ado about nothing'. ?? ?? ?? ?? Gemma Schuck AS English Literature Much Ado About Nothing - Assignment One ...read more.

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