• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why does Shakespeare use the device of a masked dance in Act II Scene I of 'Much Ado about Nothing'?

Extracts from this document...


Harriet French 24th February 2003 Why does Shakespeare use the device of a masked dance in Act II Scene I of 'Much Ado about Nothing'? Shakespeare uses the device of a masked dance in Act II Scene I for many reasons, mainly for the entertainment value of an Elizabethan audience these were the people Shakespeare intended the play to be viewed by, and also to dramatically further the plot. Using a masked dance allows for many characters to be in the same place at the same time, allowing all of the different social classes to mix and interact, something which would not normally have happened in Elizabethan times. This would have had a pleasing effect on the 'groundlings' watching the performance and also one of amusement to the 'aristocrats' in the audience who would take delight in seeing how much better they are than the groundlings. With all these people in the same place at the same time, confusion, mistaken identity, misunderstanding, and deception I sure to occur, which enable the plot to enhance and gain an eager interest from the audience. During the scene there is dancing, laughing, joking, music, fancy dress, colourful masks and general light-heartedness. This has an amusing, entertaining and stimulating effect on the whole audience, as there is a lot to see and do throughout the scene. All the colour, music and dancing means huge entertainment value for the whole audience, as it not only amasses all the characters, but reveals different sides to some of the main characters in the play, which we may only have had a hint of before hand. ...read more.


The upper class would enjoy the scene for most of the same reasons, but also because of the clever wit and humour and also the plot enhancement that occurs. For example, the language used, which contains a lot of double meanings and metaphors. For example, when Beatrice refers to marriage as a 'Scotch Jig,' "The first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch Jig (and full as fantastical), the wedding mannerly modest (as a measure) full of state and ancientry, and then comes Repentance, and with his bad leg falls into the cinquepace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave." Here Beatrice is saying that marriage is like a dance, exciting at the beginning, a bit slower in the middle and afterwards you will be full of regrets. The upper class would find Beatrice's insulting humour amusing as marriage would have been very important to a girl in Elizabethan times, and for some woman their main ambition would be to find and nice, wealthy husband, whereas the lower classes would not understand what she is talking about. The other main aspect Shakespeare has used the masked dance for is to enhance and further develop the main plot, as well as the sub-plot. The masked dance bring all of the characters in 'Much Ado about Nothing' together, giving the evil Don John a chance to put into action his plan to split Claudio and Hero up, which he does. ...read more.


The audience will find it amusing that a lady would have the upper hand over a man and would take delight in seeing Benedick in such an unfortunate position. This would not have occurred had it not been for the masked dance, and Beatrice would not have been able to say these things to Benedick without out it. The last main aspect of the plot the masked dance scene in Act II Scene I allows for is the development and deeper understanding of the characters. For example, we learn a lot more about Beatrice in this scene, for instance her likeness to Queen Elizabeth I who shares Beatrice's poor attitude towards men and marriage, for example when Beatrice says marriage is like a Scotch Jig. Shakespeare intended Beatrice's character to reflect Queen Elizabeth's mannerisms to entertain and amuse the audience and she was the present Queen at the time this play would have been on at the theatres. We also learn a lot more about Claudio, that he is fickle and easily led on by those around him and does not have much faith in the woman he supposedly loves. He is quick to change his mind on how he feels as one minute he is madly in love with her and then next he hates her. Overall, the use of a masked dance in Act II Scene I of 'Much Ado about Nothing' is a very effective way of providing humour, mixing social classes, furthering the plot and most of all catering for the entire range of people present in and Elizabethan audience, which was Shakespeare's main aim when writing a play. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Much Ado About Nothing section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Much Ado About Nothing essays

  1. Discuss how Shakespeare creates the character of Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing

    However it's still amusing how he has become everything he hated, just a short time ago. This is the most important scene in the play as is where the most change occurs. We don't see his reformed character fully developed until the final scene.

  2. What is striking about Much Ado About Nothing is that it is written largely ...

    Don Pedro continues asking questions about Beatrice's love for Benedick while Benedick listens in the background, slowly becoming convinced that what Leonato is saying must be true. Claudio joins in, telling Don Pedro what he purportedly heard from Hero, and claiming that Hero thinks Beatrice will surely die before she reveals her love.

  1. How does Shakespeare use language to develop character in one scene from 'Much Ado ...

    The scene starts with Benedick entering Leonato's Orchard enraged about the horrors of marriage, Benedick muses about how lovers make fools of themselves: ''I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors to love,...,and such a man is Claudio.''

  2. Why does Shakespeare use the dramatic device of a masked dance in Act 1 ...

    Most actors would usually wear casual clothes and so the masks and costumes worn in the dance would surprise the audience and engage their attention. Nowadays costumes are much more attractive and lavish and would not have the same effect on the audience.

  1. Consider the effectiveness of Act I, scene I as the opening scene of 'Much ...

    These characters would relate to the majority of the audience as they speak without much fancy phrasemaking and do not comply with courtly euphuism which would seem too eloborated. Each are established as witty scorners of the oppostite sex and both are first to deflate the pompous atmoshere and therefore

  2. Explain what would be amusing to a Shakespearean audience in 'Much Ado about Nothing'

    ' Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably' sums up their relationship as this intelligence has brought the stereotypical obstacles, specific to this genre. We see her development as she starts as anything but a typical heroine and yet it seems ironic how her love-hate relationship ends in

  1. Explain how watching the film 'Much Ado About Nothing' contributed to your understanding and ...

    The soldiers such as Benedick and Claudio in the film were dressed in indistinguishable uniforms of white shirts and blue trousers, indicating a solid acquaintance of harmony between them. On the other hand, the ruthless soldiers such as Borachio and Don John were wearing black trousers.

  2. Why does Shakespeare use the dramatic device of a masked dance in Act 2 ...

    Gentlewomen always had to go with a man if they were going to the theatre. People would also stand at the front and sale their ice creams and refreshments which would be very off putting for the actors and actresses and would also be off putting for the audience as

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work