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Note Notes, Forsooth, And Nothing: Themes in Much Ado About Nothing

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Introduction

Note Notes, Forsooth, And Nothing: Themes in Much Ado About Nothing At first glance, the reader is not likely to notice the immediate clue which presents itself in the title of William Shakespeare's comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. If one, however, would follow the example of a Shakespearean player in Elizabethan times and pronounce the word "nothing" as "noting," he would be introduced to a pun that is very significant because the ideas of noting, or observation, and nothing, are important themes in this story. Noting is something which motivates the characters to take actions which greatly affect the plot, and it is an idea which reflects the theme of reality versus appearance, in which reality is nothing and appearance is due to noting. First of all, it is the characters' noting which drives them to take actions which influence the plot. The earliest example of this is when Claudio falls in love with Hero. ...read more.

Middle

Probably the most important instance of a character's noting affecting the plot is when Claudio observes Borachio wooing Margaret and believes her to be Hero. Thinking Hero to be disloyal, Claudio shames her publicly and refuses to marry her. This event, and the actions taken to solve the problems it creates, make up the major conflict in the plot. The characters must devise a way to prove Hero's innocence and make Claudio feel remorse for his actions. This they do, by staging Hero's death and uncovering her slander. None of this would have occurred, however, if Claudio had not noted Borachio wooing "Hero" and then acted on his false impression. Two more examples of the significance of noting are when the Watch notes Borachio telling Conrad of the crime he committed by helping to slander Hero. The two men are then arrested, which is important to the plot; otherwise, they never would have been interrogated, and Hero's innocence would never have been confirmed. ...read more.

Conclusion

The reality versus appearance theme, which involves objects or affairs not being what they seem to be, goes to a higher level. Characters are deceived by what they note because the things they note seem to be other than they are. Then, by reacting to what they believe they noted, the characters react to what is, in reality, nothing. For example, Beatrice and Benedick fall in love because, by what they note others to say, it appears to them that each is in love with the other. They react to the false appearance that they note by actually falling in love with one another. They later discover that neither one originally loved the other, and so their reaction of falling in love was based on, in reality, nothing. Another example of the reality versus appearance theme is when Claudio notes Margaret and Borachio and believes Margaret to be Hero, then slanders Hero, justifying himself with the idea that she appeared to be disloyal. ...read more.

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