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What do you find Interesting about Shakespeare's Presentation of Deception in 'Much Ado about Nothing'?

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Jinita Batavia page 1 What do you find Interesting about Shakespeare's Presentation of Deception in 'Much Ado about Nothing'? In Much Ado about Nothing, Shakespeare presents us with a romp through the realms of truth and deception. The play is full of characters plotting and deceiving, for both noble and repugnant reasons. It is a study in the importance and necessity of malevolent and ambiguous deception in everyday lives, and shows how deeply ingrained deception is in our social behaviors. The ambiguity of the word 'Nothing' in the title, which was, pronounced the same as "noting", creating a grand pun with regards to the title of the play. One of the meanings that is implied is female genitalia, an Elizabethan euphemism, which Shakespeare pokes fun at the fuss created by male desire to gain control of the female nothing. "I noted her not, but I looked on her" Benedick replies Claudio, pointing at the subjectivity of perception. The main characters in Much Ado about Nothing are all victims of deception, and it is because they are deceived that they act in the ways that they do. Although the central deception is directed against Claudio in an attempt to destroy his relationship with Hero, it is the deceptions involving Beatrice and Benedick, which provides the plays dramatic focus. ...read more.


In a parallel case, Don Pedro's initial acting the part of Claudio to win Hero puts down a marker for his second, greater, plan of deceiving Benedick and Beatrice into "a mountain of affection th'one with th'other" (2.1). The basis of both plots is getting the victims to overhear other people speaking, as they think, honestly. Benedick and Beatrice, are intwinded in the strength of the power of illusion. They disguise their affection with verbal sparring, creating a fa�ade of animosity. They are successful only at fooling themselves, and it is this self-delusion that brings them into the realm of believability. By far, Benedick and Beatrice are more realistic than Claudio and Hero because they work, just as we all do, in the realm of illusion. Shakespeare presents Claudio and Hero's intentions and emotions as, easily visible, so much so that they come off as transparent. Their utter lack of ability to engage in social illusion makes them unbelievable: Claudio falls in love with Hero upon sight, but cannot create an illusion as simple as the portrayal of himself as a suitor. To the audience these two come off as false, and this clues the viewer/reader in to the fact that the characters of Claudio and Hero are Shakespeare's deception of true love. ...read more.


But, as Borachio says "What your wisdom's could not discover, these shallow fools have brought to light". And even more disturbing that resolution comes by mere accident: by the chance overhearing of a conversation, that in fact was 'nothing' as it was all lies. Therefore Shakespeare presents the play to the audience as 'Much Ado (to-do) about Nothing" and makes the audience realise that all the fuss was a merely for enjoyment and here we realise the play is a comedy at heart. In doing so he tells a story about deceit and how one should be especially careful of what one "notes". By showing the deep tangles of deception that exist in normal social relationships, Shakespeare reminds us of our dependence upon fabrication. He shows us that we both desire to be and have a deep need to deceive ourselves and others. It's why we watch plays and read literature. The symmetry of the plot structure is suggestive of a masquerade or a dance, appropriate in a play dominated by spying and deception and in which harmony is established through love. But Shakespeare also shows us the precarious balance of illusion in our lives and the ease with which we can lose our grip on reality and fiction. ...read more.

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