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What comic devices does Shakespeare use in the opening scene of Much Ado About Nothing to create humour and a light hearted atmosphere?

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James Meredith ?What comic devices does Shakespeare use in the opening scene of Much Ado About Nothing to create humour and a light hearted atmosphere?? Throughout Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare uses many comic devices to bring about humour and a light hearted atmosphere, such as misunderstanding, bawdiness and wit. Act 1, Scene 1 opens with a messenger telling Leonato of Don Pedro?s return from conflict and his approach to the town of Messina where Leonato takes residence with his household and which is also surrounded by country, which in turn is an aspect of comedy which seems to take a more profound comedic effect later in the play. The use of status and power is a comedic effect as it causes the audience to laugh at the lower class as they believe they themselves are above the servants and the messengers in terms of status. Wit and wordplay are aspects of comedy, which Shakespeare tends to use successively throughout the play and we see evidence of this early in Scene 1 of the first Act when Beatrice remarks, ??is Signor Mountanto returned from the wars, or no?? with reference to Signor Benedick of Padua. ...read more.


?Books? is a metaphor for her life and conscience, and so by burning her ?study? she is eradicating Benedick from her memory and thoughts. Shakespeare uses the comedic device of inversion to create humour because before Benedick?s entrance, Beatrice was the witty, sarcastic character. However, now that Benedick enters the scene, she is met with equal wit and so a contest begins to determine who is the wittiest and cleverest with words. Beatrice is the victor but the comedy and humour was created in the insults targeted at each other and the effects it had on both characters e.g. facial expression and aggravation. The audience (both modern or contempory) would find this humorous because they feel dominant over Benedick and Beatrice and are not being mocked but are acting as neutral on-watchers witnessing the onslaught and the effect of embarrassment felt by the two characters. In line 98, Benedick questioned if Leonato had to ask his wife if Hero was his child, to which Leonato replied, ?Signor Benedick, no; for then were you a child?. ...read more.


Benedick?s violent language when expressing love, which is such a beautiful notion, is humorous in itself. ??Pick out mine eyes with a ballad-maker?s pen and hang me up at the door of a brothel-house for the sign of blind Cupid.? This creates laughter among the audience because they laugh at the extremity of his views. They cause the audience to become nervous and threatened slightly by his violent expressions towards love that they can?t help but laugh to relieve the climax. The audience, whether contempory or modern, still laugh at Benedick?s early character because he is a stereotype of the typical bachelor who secretly seeks love but never admits to it. Shakespeare uses many comic devices to create humour and a light hearted atmosphere in Act 1, Scene 1. However, the most influential of these devices was the use of wit and wordplay, which allowed the audience to feel superior over the victims being mocked on stage i.e. Benedick and Beatrice, and so in turn permits the audience to laugh. ...read more.

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