Claudio's fall from grace in Much Ado About Nothing

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It is often said that Shakespeare meant Claudio to be the hero of the play as the climax of the play (the court scene) revolves around his love story and he finally achieves his beloved in the denouement. However, as the play progresses Claudio fails to live up to the expectation of being a hero and is barely tolerable through the course of the play.

Claudio is a young Florentine and serves as Don Pedro’s right hand man. The very first impression that the audience gets of him is very deceptive just as the rest of the play is. He is said to have achieved ‘the feats of a lion in the figure of a lamb’. As the exposition scene progresses, Claudio reveals his feelings regarding Hero to Don Pedro. 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.
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Though foolish and naïve in judgement, Claudio is still loved and trusted by his friends. Claudio plays a crucial role in the gull of Benedick as he becomes the via media of information from Hero about Beatrice’s love for Benedick. His presence in the scene makes it more believable and thus Claudio becomes an important character in the development of the plot in the story.

The play progresses and Borachio and Don John approach Don Pedro and Claudio to carry out their master plan. On hearing, what Don John has to say, Claudio reacts impulsively without ...

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