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GCSE: Much Ado About Nothing

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The main characters in 'Much Ado About Nothing'

  1. 1 Beatrice is the niece of Leonato and cousin of Hero. She is extremely quick-witted and verbally adept and amuses her relatives and friends with stories and jokes. Although she is generous and good-hearted, she often uses her wit to mock and tease other people, especially Benedick.
  2. 2 Benedick is a gentleman and soldier who has recently been fighting with Don Pedro and Claudio. Like Beatrice, Benedick is witty and enjoys mocking other people. He swears he will never marry as he is very critical of women and does not trust them.
  3. 3 Claudio is a young soldier who has won great acclaim fighting with Don Pedro in the recent wars. When Claudio returns to Messina he falls in love with Hero. He is brave and loving but is too easily led by others and is too quick to believe the rumours about Hero.
  4. 4 Don Pedro is an important nobleman from Aragon. He is a long-time friend of Leonato and is close to Benedick and Claudio. He is generous, courteous and loving to his friends, but is also quick to believe the evil Don John, and is quick to take revenge.
  5. 5 Don John is Don Pedro’s illegitimate half brother and is often referred to as Don John, the Bastard. He is miserable and sullen by nature and is jealous of Don Pedro’s success and position as the rightful Prince of Aragon. He creates the illusion of Hero being unfaithful so that he can ruin the happiness of Hero and Claudio and hurt Don Pedro.

Background information on the play

  1. 1 Shakespeare wrote Much Ado about Nothing in 1600 and its dramatic impact and characterisation are much more sophisticated than his earlier successful plays of Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  2. 2 Much Ado about Nothing is set in Messina, a port on the island of Sicily. Sicily was ruled by Aragon at the time the play was set. The action of the play takes place mainly at the home and on the grounds of Leonato's estate.
  3. 3 The play is one of the few in the Shakespeare canon where the majority of the text is written in prose and not in verse.
  4. 4 Shakespeare took the idea of the young lover falsely accused of infidelity from several different sources, including the Italian writers Bandello in his book Novelle and Aristo in Orlando Furioso
  5. 5 The basic structure of the play is three different plot lines which are intertwined: Claudio and Hero - the conventional young lovers who have a crisis in their relationship and then are reunited at the end of the play; Dogberry - a bumbling amateur policeman, who with his associates, the volunteer watchmen, figure in the action when they catch the villains; Beatrice and Benedick - two battling, witty lovers who begin the play hating each other and end up in a loving relationship.

The importance of 'honour' in Shakespere's time

  1. 1 A woman’s honour was based upon her virginity and her innocent behaviour. If a woman lost her honour by having a sexual relationship before marriage it was a disaster that would damage her whole family’s reputation.
  2. 2 A man’s honour was different as it depended on friendship and reputation in society. A man would defend his honour by fighting a battle or having a duel. An example of this honour in the play is when Beatrice urges Benedick to duel with Claudio, on her behalf, in order to avenge Hero’s honour.
  3. 3 When Leonato is told that Hero has lost her honour, he believes the word of Don Pedro over his own daughter and is so ashamed that he says they should let her die. Hero’s dishonour would mean that he would not be able to find another husband for her as no one would want to marry a woman who had been with another man.
  4. 4 Don Pedro believes that his honour and reputation have been affected because he helped to woo Hero for Claudio so he is also shamed and dishonoured by Hero’s infidelity.
  5. 5 The climax of the play is when Claudio rejects Hero at the wedding, shaming her in front of her father. Claudio is more concerned about his honour and reputation than whether Hero is innocent. This questions his love for Hero because he is more concerned about himself and his own reputation.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 7
  • Peer Reviewed essays 10
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    Much Ado About Nothing

    4 star(s)

    There, they stood Don Pedro and Don John nodding to whatever filthy lies came out of Claudio's mouth. But this came to me like a shock that Don Pedro assisted him in doing so as I expected to be different from that Claudio. Being a Prince, especially the Prince of Aragon he needs to gain respect from wherever town or person he can get from but he has lost that from the people of Messina and especially me. He did not only stand there acknowledging every word Claudio said but also added more insults against her as if Claudio's remarks against her were not enough.

    • Word count: 1203
  2. Marked by a teacher

    An Exploration of the Theme of Love inMuch Ado About Nothing The Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing is considered to be a play about deception

    4 star(s)

    Despite the fact that she often appears on stage, she is given scarcely any dialogue until Act three, Scene one where she prepares for her wedding; here she speaks in poetry, portraying her perfection (line 8): 'Where honeysuckles, ripened by the sun / Forbid the sun to enter - like favourites / Made proud by princes, that advance their pride / Against that power that bred it.' Additionally, there are implications that he wishes to marry her in order to improve his wealth and status.

    • Word count: 2716
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Shakespeare(TM)s Much Ado about Nothing Directors Essay: What advice would you give to Beatrice when responding to Benedick?

    3 star(s)

    Also, Beatrice should look upon Benedick eyes whilst speaking this line and point at him, as this will bring their love relationship into Benedick's mind. If these actions are followed, even the audience should be shocked, as this was a very daring phrase for a woman to say. Just as she persuades Benedick to do her bidding, she hands him a grave task: "Kill Claudio" The line is very short and therefore breaks any flow in their conversation, y pausing the play and allowing time for the audience to absorb the surprise behind these words.

    • Word count: 730
  4. Marked by a teacher

    How Important to 'Much Ado About Nothing' is Act 3 Scene 4?

    3 star(s)

    It also shows how shallow women in general are as the women in the scene represent most of the classes: Ursula, lower class, Margaret, lower-middle class, Beatrice, upper-middle class, Hero, upper class. The quote displays exactly how shallow they are as it is the morning of the wedding and all Hero is talking about is hair and makeup. To add to this stereotypical view of women, the scene is set in a dressing room. Fashion in general used to determine the social status of people.

    • Word count: 1067
  5. Marked by a teacher

    much ado about nothing critique

    3 star(s)

    Hero is wooed by Don Pedro and given to Claudio. Hero has been told how to answer the prince's offer with no decision of her own by her Father. As Beatrice implies " It is my cousins duty to make curtsy and say, 'father as it please you'". Beatrice suggests in agreeing to Claudio's offer of marriage, Hero would be fulfilling her duty and not her own wish. She is not thinking for herself but merely following her father's wishes, which are for him, as he wants her to be well matched.

    • Word count: 1841
  6. Marked by a teacher

    How does Shakespeare Make Act 4 Scene 1 exciting and dramatic?

    3 star(s)

    We know that Claudio can be easily manipulated making it more believable for us as an audience. We would expect Claudio to defend Hero but he believes what he hears and is ready to shame Hero. In Act 2 Scene 1 L: 115-138 Don John, pretending to be Benedick, tells Claudio that Don Pedro is courting Hero for himself instead of wooing her for him. When Claudio hears this he quickly jumps to the conclusion that he no longer wants Hero, "farewell therefore, Hero."

    • Word count: 1748
  7. Marked by a teacher

    "Much Ado About Nothing" analyse how effectively the director, Kenneth Branagh, uses a variety of film techniques to introduce to the audience the themes, plots and characters of Shakespeare's play.

    3 star(s)

    I think Branagh wanted to put the poem in because, when you've read and understood the play, you'll see that it fits in with what happens in it. It's a kind of premonition of things to come. But the poem, strangely, fits quite well with the beginning, with the idyllic setting and relaxed atmosphere of the picnic. Many important members are present at this meeting, and this is a good way of introducing several characters. The scene starts with an idealistic painting that was done by Leonato of the surrounding landscape.

    • Word count: 1380
  8. Peer reviewed

    Much Ado is a play of wit, deception and slander. Although the play consists of many other themes, nature is probably

    5 star(s)

    During the Elizabethan period there was and still is a patriarchal society. Shakespeare has included this to show how fashion and social hierarchy affects human nature. In a patriarchal society it is abnormal for a woman to express her opinions ambitiously; they are expected to be conservative and conformist. This patriarchal attitude underlines much of Leonato and Antonio's behaviour in the play. Antonio says to Hero, " Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled by your father" (A2S1), whereupon Leonato reminds her how to behave should the prince come to woo her; yet when it becomes apparent that the prince woos on behalf of Claudio not himself, Leonato has no worries about the sudden change of son in law.

    • Word count: 1423
  9. Peer reviewed

    How does Shakespeare present the developing relationships of the lovers in the play?

    5 star(s)

    Even Hero's father briefly rejects her because of another man's word. Beatrice and Benedick promulgate a hazy past between each other, consequently all they manage to do now is hurt one another. For example in Act 2 Scene 1 (line 103) Beatrice spitefully remarks: " ...The prince's jester, a very dull fool" The reason for her boldness and shrewd tongue is her desire to hurt Benedick as he hurt her in the past; she wants to damage him despite her feelings for him now.

    • Word count: 1852
  10. Peer reviewed

    How does Shakespeare challenge the conventional role of women within the patriarchal society of Much Ado About Nothing.

    5 star(s)

    In the first three scenes, the male characters continually criticise the females. Benedick voices the traditional patriarchal ideology through his constant criticism of women's actions and sexual lightness. An example of this is when he says "that a woman conceived me I thank her; that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks; I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right and trust none". This can be ironic as Queen Elizabeth, the head of the country, was the exact opposite of the stereotypical image of how a woman was supposed to be.

    • Word count: 1698
  11. Peer reviewed

    The Title In Much Ado About Nothing

    5 star(s)

    However, Don Pedro retorts, "<sum>Note notes, forsooth, and nothing," playing on Balthasar's words, and also demanding that he pay attention to his music and nothing else. In addition, much of the play is dedicated to people "noting" (or observing) the actions of others (such as the trick played on Beatrice and Benedick by Leonato, Hero and Claudio); they often observe and overhear one another, and consequently make a great deal out of very little. At the beginning of the play, Claudio and Hero eventually come to admire one another, and Benedick and Beatrice play off each others' wit in a manner that is all too cosy to be convincingly vicious.

    • Word count: 762
  12. Peer reviewed

    What are the different forms of deception that occur in the play and what is their effect?

    4 star(s)

    One of the main examples of deception made evident in the play is deception of friends to promote love. This is shown when Don Pedro lets Hero and Claudio in on his plan to bring Beatrice and Benedick together: "I will teach you how to humour your cousin, that she shall fall in love with Benedick, and I, with your two helps, will so practice on Benedick." The effect is a positive one, as his plan works and the pair overcome their differences and end up falling in love.

    • Word count: 650
  13. Peer reviewed

    Discuss Shakespeare's treatment of courtship and marriage in "Much Ado About Nothing". In your essay you should refer to modern interpretations of the play and consider the context in which they were produced as well as the context of the original play.

    4 star(s)

    The way that Beatrice and Benedick treat each other offers humour as this is one of Shakespeare's comedies whilst also providing a relationship which seems much more modern and extraordinary for the time. The courting between Beatrice and Benedick is slightly vicious as they seem never to compliment each other but instead comment on each others faults 'he is no less than a stuffed man' and the names which they call each other make it seem like they are feuding as opposed to courting 'madam disdain'.

    • Word count: 963
  14. Peer reviewed

    Much Ado About Nothing - Which man would you prefer to marry? Benedick or Claudio? Consider the ways in which each is presented before coming to a decision.

    4 star(s)

    As the play continues we begin to establish more of the men's characters. The remainder of Act 1, Scene 1 shows Benedick's objections to love, for example his comment 'shall I never see a bachelor of three score again' (1:1:147) suggests that to him it seems all young men decide to get married but he doesn't really understand why. This, along with the competitive argument he has with Beatrice earlier in the scene, gives the impression that Benedick is a woman-hater who doesn't believe in love. Claudio, on the other hand, appears to be a shy but romantic man. He refers to Hero as a 'jewel' and 'the sweetest lady that ever (he)

    • Word count: 1649
  15. Peer reviewed

    Explore the relationships between Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing

    3 star(s)

    Leonato, Beatrice's uncle and governor of Messina says when talking to the messenger, "You must not, sir, mistake my niece: there is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her: they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them." Shakespeare's intention in promoting Leonato's opinion immediately alerts the audience to the situation which exists between the pair. Leonato refers to these arguments as a "merry war", which says although they are quarrelling, it is in a humerous way.

    • Word count: 3132
  16. Peer reviewed

    How does Shakespeare Present Relationships Between men and women in much ado about nothing

    3 star(s)

    Beatrice replied, "A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours." This shows me that they know each other so well, that they what each other is going to say because when one of them is talking to the other they pick up on what they are saying and put it in their own remark, this is called Stichomythia In Act 2 Scene 1 once again we do get to see Beatrice making remarks towards Benedick but they are at the ball and she is doing it to the person under the mask, which she knows its Benedick but he isn't aware of this so he acts in normal manner.

    • Word count: 1151
  17. Characterization of Hero in "Much Ado About Nothing".

    1 Scene 1,157), and described as a "jewel" (Act 1 Scene 1,165), "a modest young lady" (Act 1 Scene 1,150), "the sweetest lady" (Act 1 Scene 1,171) by Claudio. She is friendly and well-behaved (Act 3 Scene 4,26) , and when she speaks she is mostly very factual and enlightening (Act 1 Scene 1,33). But she can also be very cheeky (Act 2 Scene 1,79-90) * Hero knows what she wants and does not let herself be influenced by others (Act 3 Scene 4,6-11).

    • Word count: 589
  18. In Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing he represents two characters with a very secretive relationship thats covered up with spiteful words.

    The phrase "How many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? For indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing." The idea Shakespeare is giving us here is that Beatrice is in no danger of eating cannibalism, as she is certain benedict is incapable of again full filling is duties as a solider and stating that he is a coward. In 2.1 she elaborates her feelings as calls him "a very dull fool". In this scene they were set in the masked ball while Benedict is questioning Beatrice on thoughts about himself not aware that who he's speaking to, however Beatrice fully aware and is also teasing him.

    • Word count: 1136
  19. How do Shakespeare and Kenneth Branagh make Much ado about nothing act 2 scene 3 interesting and entertaining?

    It is still a week until the wedding of Claudio and Hero and therefore as an act of killing time they decide to trick Benedick and Beatrice into falling in love with each other. However Don Pedro does not believe that this is to be an easy job this is shown where he says 'it will be like one of Hercules labours.' As they are both strong headed people and reject all thought of marriage and love completely from their usual lifestyle?

    • Word count: 645
  20. The characters of Beatrice and Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing and how they are portrayed n Branagh's film version.

    The fact that he doesn't say much suggests that he is really listening and taking in her words. From the text, one can't really tell much about the characters' thoughts, feelings and relationships but the film version is very good at showing these. In the film, one can clearly see how deeply Bendick is affected by what Beatrice says about him, especially in his eyes, when he starts joking in the beginning and later on puts his hand to his mask awkwardly.

    • Word count: 1818
  21. Much ado about nothing - is it a happy ending?

    I believe that this play has a happy ending and not a sad ending. I understand it might not be a happy ending because Hero doesn't say anything when they decide to fake her death and then make her marry Claudio again, who had humiliated her and slapped her in the face. The scene where Claudio and Hero are about to get married until Claudio humiliates Hero is tragic. Claudio goes completely off scale, first he is gullible into believing that Hero had sex with another man (Borachio)

    • Word count: 961
  22. For man is a giddy thing and this is my conclusion Comment on Benedicks assessment of human character in the light of the events presented in Shakespeares play Much Ado About Nothing

    This is all very sudden, like so many of Claudio's actions throughout the play. His character is very changeable and he is quick to judge. This is best represented when both he and Hero's father (Leonato) jump to conclusions at the news of Hero's infidelity before their wedding. This is a rapid change, as Claudio decides to believe the accusations made by the deceiving bastard Don John (Don Pedro's brother), and publicly humiliates Hero and shames her. He then also continues to slander and loathe Hero for her believed actions, and is aided in this by Don Pedro, calling her a "wanton" and a "common stale", both suggesting she is a whore, and unworthy of marriage to him.

    • Word count: 1447
  23. Much Ado About Nothing Wedding Tell The Story From Leonatos Perspective

    I should have been so very happy, and I was. But at the same time I had doubts. I don't know where they came from, but I just wanted it to be a happy wedding. The church bells started ringing and I left my own little world as I made my way back along the path. I don't know how long I was gone for, but it must have been a while seeing that the vicar himself was looking for me. "Leonato! Goodness, I am so pleased I have found you! Do please, come with me." Before I could respond, I was escorted into the Vestry, where my eyes fell upon the most beautiful sight.

    • Word count: 1212
  24. In Much Ado about Nothing Shakespeare uses effective language such as imagery to show the feelings and different moods of the characters. Shakespeare expresses the feelings of his characters by using dramatic stage actions and poetic meaningful word

    At this stage the mood of the atmosphere has changed form downfall of her cousin's pride to the revenge of Claudio. In Act 4 Scene 1 Benedick is ready to show his affection. He is strong-minded that he loves her, wants him to gain her trust and is certain that she loves him back. "By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me" The quote shows me that the language used here is stating that Benedick is determined to be with her and do anything to be with her. As well as explaining the ides of his sword resembling to an oath.

    • Word count: 731
  25. Chains of Love. In Shakespeares play, Much Ado About Nothing, two couples develop throughout the story, Claudio and Hero, along with Benedick and Beatrice.

    They both are very stubborn and insistent on the fact that they do not need to get married. They do not want someone who will take care of them. This stubbornness and independence lets them hold on to their pride enough that they can put off their feelings and refuse to admit that they love each other. Even when it is clear, they still refuse to orally state how much they really love each other. This is what happens at the wedding. Benedick says, "A miracle! Here's our own hands against our/ hearts. Come, I will have thee, but by this light I take/ thee for pity" (V, iiii, 91-93).

    • Word count: 1001

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • "Much Ado About Nothing" analyse how effectively the director, Kenneth Branagh, uses a variety of film techniques to introduce to the audience the themes, plots and characters of Shakespeare's play.

    "As you can see, Branagh has successfully made the play into a movie without a hitch. He uses a variety of filming techniques unavailable to those on stage, and used them well to create and introduce likeable characters. He has managed, in about 10 to 15 minutes, most of the plot details, characters and themes of the play, "Much Ado About Nothing". Jay Kulkarni 10D English Media Study Page 1 of 3"

  • Consider why Shakespeare requires two pairs of lovers in Much Ado About Nothing and to what extent you as a modern reader are above to respond sympathetically to how they are presented.

    "In conclusion, this play tackles love, marriage, friendship and society in a cleverly crafted way. Without two pairs of lovers we would have been unable to compare expectations of society against individual expectations. Shakespeare sucessfully explored Elizabethan values and ideas with Claudio and Hero. He provided the modern reader with a hero and heroine in Benedick and Beatrice. He allowed the Elizabethan audience to see a pair of lovers who were not willing to conform. The interest of the audience/reader is kept by the two plots running alongside one another. Without this the play would have been much less interesting and closed to certain discussion. He covers conventional, serious and often disturbing aspects of lover with Hero and Claudio, but contrasts them with the unconventional but meaningfull love of Beatrice and Benedick. All the themes chosen are as relevant today as they were when the play was written. I think it enables a modern reader to realise exactly what considerations had to be made with regard to love and relationships at the time and why."

  • Compare Shakespeare's Presentation of the Contrasting Relationships between Beatrice and Benedick and Claudio and Hero

    "In conclusion, Shakespeare presents the contrasting relationship between Beatrice and Benedick and Claudio and Hero through the style of language. The developments and progression of their relationships are triggered by significant moments in the plot and causes their attitudes towards the idea of loving each other change. Benedick and Beatrice use prose for the majority of the play to represent their down-to-earth relationship. It is through their playful banter and gulling which establishes the growth of an independent union on an intellectual level. Claudio and Hero's relationship is symbolised by the romantic verse they employ suited to their idealistic bond. It is turbulent throughout the play due to the events of deceit which prompt Claudio's harsh, suspicious and jealous traits which more than challenge Hero's gentle and innocent persona. It is through the difficulties their relationship is faced with that Claudio learns humility and to trust Hero."

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