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GCSE: Much Ado About Nothing
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The main characters in 'Much Ado About Nothing'
- 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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
How does Shakespeare in his final act of "Much Ado About Nothing" put all the pieces of the puzzle together revealing every characters true nature?
The play progresses and the audience for the first time witnesses a somewhat romantic dialogue between Benedick and Beatrice. Claudio, as promised by him, sings to Hero?s grave as he says, ?Pardon goddess of the night those that slew thy virgin knight.? The play now moves into its final scene where Hero is brought in front of Claudio and Claudio readily accepts her. Also, Benedick asks for Beatrice?s hand in marriage. The news of Don John being caught comes in.
- Word count: 976
However, this impacts Claudio?s image negatively as he allows Don Pedro to woo Hero in his place. His manliness is put to question as he is not even brave enough to declare love to the person he loves. ?The prince woos in Claudio?s name? and discloses Claudio?s feelings to Leonato. In the meanwhile, Claudio acting like a fool is deceived by Don John into believing that Don Pedro has wooed for himself. Claudio appears to be a gullible character as he is deceived by the very devil into mistrusting his dearest friend. He is a brave person and a likeable man but his exasperating credulity takes the merits from all these qualities away and leaves Claudio hinging between a smart and a petty character.
- Word count: 779