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Much Ado About Nothing

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Introduction

12652 The assertion that Don John is a plot device, rather than a truly complex character, is true. Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy in which the conflicts are intended to engender humor and levity later in the play. Don John's character is a plot device that Shakespeare uses to bring about Hero's conflict that eventually allows the play to end in an atmosphere of blitheness. Throughout the play, Don John shows no real emotion or motives for his actions. In his conversation with Conrade, Don John asserts that he must be sad because he "cannot hide" (1.3.12) who he is. Don John claims that he must be sad when he has cause and must remain sad even when hearing cheerful words. Don John is like an automaton that is programmed to be sad: his mind is set to live a gloomy life. Thus, he doesn't give reasons for his grief but merely constrains himself to feel only grief. ...read more.

Middle

Much Ado About Nothing, as the title suggests, is replete with misunderstandings. Don John's scheme brings about the misunderstandings that portray the levity with which the characters of the play deal with conflicts. Claudio seems to abhor even the thought of the Hero when he reasons that she is disloyal. However, when he finds out that she is innocent he immediately casts off his hate and loves her again. Thus, through Don John's scheme, we see how quickly characters in the play accept that which seems to be right. Much is the same for Leonato: when Hero is first accused by Claudio during the wedding that she is disloyal, he immediately accepts the accusation and weeps for his seemingly tainted reputation. However, when he finds out that his daughter is innocent, he immediately accepts the friar's plan to reunite Claudio and Hero. Thus, we see how fickle the characters in the play can be. ...read more.

Conclusion

The last line of the play, spoken by Benedick, is also spoken in a blithe manner: when news reaches the Prince that Don John has been brought back to Messina, Benedick tells Don Pedro, "Think not on him till tomorrow. I'll devise thee brave punishments for him. - Strike up, pipers!" (5.4.131). The last line is definitely humorous and keeps up the carefree and happy atmosphere of the play: the play ends with jestful singing and dancing, and although Don John will be punished, no one is too vindictive or serious as to deal with him immediately. As portrayed by how the characters react to the given conflicts, Don John is merely a plot device that Shakespeare uses. Unlike Iago, Don John does not "destroy the comic assurance that all will be well for the crossed lovers," but is actually essential to the comical elements in the play. The conflicts that Don John brings to the plot assure us that Shakespeare's comedy and cheerful tone will be maintained even to the end of the play. ...read more.

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