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GCSE: Much Ado About Nothing

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The main characters in 'Much Ado About Nothing'

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    An Exploration of the Theme of Love inMuch Ado About Nothing The Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing is considered to be a play about deception

    4 star(s)

    Despite the fact that she often appears on stage, she is given scarcely any dialogue until Act three, Scene one where she prepares for her wedding; here she speaks in poetry, portraying her perfection (line 8): 'Where honeysuckles, ripened by the sun / Forbid the sun to enter - like favourites / Made proud by princes, that advance their pride / Against that power that bred it.' Additionally, there are implications that he wishes to marry her in order to improve his wealth and status.

    • Word count: 2716
  2. Discuss the character and role of Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. What do you feel she adds to the play for the audience?

    'I Would eat his heart in the marketplace.' Beatrice is referring to Claudio and 'Oh God that I were a man.' Wishing she could cause him as much pain physically as he has caused Hero emotionally by leaving her at the altar on their wedding day. By wishing she was a man tells the audience that she has an atypical personality compared to the usual 16th century woman who is meant to keep quiet and not publish their opinions. Furthermore, Beatrice saying she wants to eat his heart in the marketplace shows she wants to humiliate him and make a

    • Word count: 2390
  3. In Act 1: Scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing(TM) Leonato observes that there is a kind of merry war(TM) between Beatrice and Benedick. In light of this comment, analyse the way their relationship is presented thr

    The impression the audience has on Beatrice's personality is that she stood out amongst most women at that time. Sixteenth century women were not allowed to act like that at the time. They were supposed to obey men and have a quiet personality. Beatrice mocks Benedick when she comments on his skills at archery. It mirrors the way her and Benedick spontaneously fall in love. She says that Benedick challenged her 'uncle's food at the birdbolt.' This means he challenged him at a blunt-headed arrow. The affect on her questioning the messenger is easily intimidated. She asks the messenger how many people he has killed and she promises him to have all his success frightening him for her own pleasure which emphasizes her personality.

    • Word count: 2011
  4. English A discussion of the way William Shakespeare presents the changing character of Benedick in the opening scenes of the play "Much Ado about Nothing."

    But one main thing that it brings to the audience's mind is that in fencing, you have to try and score quick points off each other; and that Beatrice is certainly trying to get some good first blows or insults scored, even before Benedick has arrived. The main point of Beatrice saying this is because she wants to know if Benedick is safe, but she also camouflages her concern with an insult. A few lines later in the play, Leonato, Governor of Messina and Beatrice's uncle tells the messenger, "There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her: they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them."

    • Word count: 2417
  5. How does Shakespeare present the relationship of Beatrice and Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing" and how has Kenneth Branagh interpreted this in his 1993 film version?

    At the time this play was written, these characteristics were very unconventional. Women were meant to be submissive and acquiescent. Even the men were not supposed to be quite as disrespectful as Benedick is at times. An example of their similar personalities is seen when they first meet each other in the play. They trade insults over a petty matter and are unafraid to say exactly what they think of each other in front of their audience. Beatrice says, "I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me", to which Benedick replies, "God keep your ladyship till in that mind, so some gentleman or other shall scape a predestinate scratched face".

    • Word count: 2093
  6. Compare and contrast the way that Shakespeare presents love through the relationships of Benedick and Beatrice and Hero and Claudio

    They state strongly that they will never love and this banter supports this idea. Shakespeare uses other characters' dialogue to describe Beatrice and Benedick's banter as a kind of 'merry war'. This oxymoron suggests that the two characters enjoy insulting each other. By showing the audience Beatrice and Benedick's relationship as a kind of 'merry war' and suggesting that there may be love between them later on in the play, Shakespeare also shows us the difficult and unusual nature of their relationship.

    • Word count: 2333
  7. Much Ado About Nothing clearly shows the attitude of the Elizabethans towards women and what was expected of women of the time. Shakespeare uses two main characters; Hero and Beatrice, to show how women were treated

    This means that although Beatrice has a little wealth she is not under the same pressure as Hero is from Leonato as Hero is his only heir. It was essential for Beatrice, Hero and all women of higher social status of that time to be virgins when they got married. It was considered a gift to their husband to be a virgin when they got married. Men on the other hand had more freedom and were able to "sow their wild oats" as there was not the same social pressure.

    • Word count: 2501
  8. What attitudes are displayed about the roles of women in the play 'Much Ado About Nothing'?

    Beatrice is probably a bigger heroine to a modern audience, rather than to one at the time when the play was written, because assertiveness in women and a feminist approach towards life would not have been seen as good traits in Elizabethan times. The stereotype in question is shown in Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew'. This features a girl named Katherine who has a hatred of men. She is 'tamed' by Petruccio, who is, like Benedick is to Beatrice, her equal in wit and intellect.

    • Word count: 2279
  9. Write an exploration of the 'dark' elements present in 'Much Ado About Nothing'

    At first during Act I Scene I there is no mention of Don John in the conversation, and there is no direct speech addressed to him. Only once Leonato has finished greeting Don Pedro, and Beatrice and Benedick have exchanged wry remarks, does he eventually turn to greet Don John. This implies that although Don John and Don Pedro are brothers and should be treated as equals, Don John is treated as an inferior simply because he is illegitimate. As a contrast to the jovial exchange between Leonato and Don Pedro, the exchange between Leonato and Don John is short and succinct.

    • Word count: 2731
  10. There are many interesting things in 'Much Ado About Nothing' for an audience to enjoy. There is one main thing that the audience will like to watch. This is the question of whether Beatrice and Benedick

    She also says that she would rather hear her "dog bark at a crow than have a man swears he loves her". This shows that both of them putting forward their hatred for love and relationships. Benedick then tells Beatrice to keep that in mind to save men from her "predestinate scratch'd face". Beatrice turns the insult round and says "no amount of scratching can make it worse that your face". Again her attempts to humiliate Benedick fail and Benedick tells her that she repeats a lot of things, "you are a rare parrot teacher".

    • Word count: 2827
  11. Much Ado About Nothing

    Beatrice and Benedicks love is more realistic and understanding, as they don't follow the normal rules of courtly love. Claudio is an impulsive, hot headed, youth and his character unfolds in a complex fashion as the play proceeds. He is the member of the group who falls in most easily with the scheme of the others, and he seems to accept readily the entire apparatus of courtly game going on around him, " Is she not a modest young lady?"

    • Word count: 2239
  12. Explore and compare the romantic relationships in the play; Beatrice and Benedick, Claudio and Hero

    of which Benedick replies 'yea and a case to put it into.' We can see from this that Claudio is a romantic. He is an idealistic lover who up until this point was apparently struck dumb by Hero's sheer beauty. Claudio has apparently fallen in love with Hero after a mere twenty minutes in her presence. This in itself makes us doubt the future of the couple. After all if Claudio can make an announcement that big, in such a short space of time it shows that he is quick to interpret and judge.

    • Word count: 2042
  13. An exploration of how Shakespeare presents Messina society and its failings in Much Ado About Nothing

    This thought of disruption to the order of Messina seems to be a catalyst for the further disruption in the play. As Shakespeare develops the society's morals through the plot and characters, dramatic changes take place. In turn, this creates an irony based on the deception of appearances which leads to the overall problems of Messina society. Social rank is clearly important within the play as each character strives to be more powerful than each other with the use of money or language skills.

    • Word count: 2244
  14. Discuss the presentation of the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick in Shakespeare's 'Much Ado about Nothing'

    Don Pedro states, 'in time the savage bull doth bear the yoke'. This could mean Benedick will be tamed and, in time, will fall in love. Benedick mocks this statement and claims he will never give himself to any woman. In the plot involving Beatrice and Benedick, the symbol of a tamed animal symbolizes the social calming that must happen for both characters to be ready to fall in love and marry. Beatrice's promise to submit to Benedick's love by, 'taming my wild heart to thy loving hand', gives the audience imagery of a wild hawk being tamed and suggests that Benedick is to become Beatrice's master.

    • Word count: 2538
  15. To What Extent is Much Ado About Nothing a Play about Social Pressures Rather Than True Love?

    Social pressure is when you are pressured into doing something that you do not want to do, for example Beatrice and Benedick seem to fall in love with each other purely because of what they have heard. Whereas true love is when you have affection and kindness towards a person and have strong feelings for them. For example in the play the fact that Hero and Claudio decide to get married the day after they get engaged could show that they are truly in love and is meant to be a whirlwind of romance and love.

    • Word count: 2204
  16. How Does Shakespeare present the relationship between men and women in his play 'Much Ado About Nothing' and how might a modern audience respond to these relationships?

    One of the first characters the audience is introduced to in the play is Beatrice, niece to Leonato. Beatrice is not representative of a typical Shakespearean woman although she may well fit into the stereotype of being a shrew1 due to her outspoken nature and mocking of Benedick. Her sarcastic sense of humour towards Benedick can first be observed during her interruption of Leonato at the beginning of the play in which she inquires after "Signior Mountanto" implying that Benedick is an egotistical exhibitionist.

    • Word count: 2086
  17. How does Shakespeare reveal Claudio's character to the audience through his use of language and the structure of the play? Does Claudio get what he deserves at the end of the play?

    He is asking for reassurance from a friend and after he does he also talks to the prince Don Pedro. Claudio is very friendly towards Benedick and is certain about his love for Hero but he needs a friend's approval as he is very insecure. Claudio says 'Can the world buy such a jewel?' This revels that he is insecure as he needs to ask may questions to find out what Benedick thinks when Benedick answers with a positive answer Claudio seems a lot more sure about him self and says what he thinks of her.

    • Word count: 2373
  18. Describe and discuss Shakespeare's presentation of the code of values in Messina

    Some are caught in the act of deception at work while others suffer from the consequences. Throughout I will be looking at how the characters display love, hypocrisy, deceit and wit. Much of the play is moved along by characters eavesdropping on a conversation and either misunderstanding what they overhear or being deceived by gossip and trickery. Hero and Claudio among others trick Benedick and Beatrice by setting them up to overhear conversations in which their friends deliberately mislead them. Don John's spiteful gossip makes Claudio and Don Pedro suspicious that Hero is disloyal. These are just some of the examples of vanity and deception throughout the play.

    • Word count: 2384
  19. In this study, I will be exploring the way in which the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick is presented in Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare.

    Also, the way she pronounces it, Mount-on-to, could describe a specific s****l connotation. Either way, one cannot help but to think that Benedick is on her mind. During the same conversation she attacks his wit and attitude: She says: Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one; so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse, for it is all the wealth that he hath left to be known a reasonable creature.

    • Word count: 2688
  20. Much AdoAbout Nothing Essay - 'A Sparkling Comedy'

    But as always Beatrice has something to come back with. In Act Two, at the masked ball, we again see the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick. When Beatrice and Benedick are together we get the idea that Beatrice knows that she is talking to Benedick. However, he pretends that it is not him and so she plays along with him and teases him. Benedick: 'I pray you, what is he? Beatrice: 'Why, he is the Prince's jester, a very dull fool.'

    • Word count: 2671
  21. Explain what would be amusing to a Shakespearean audience in 'Much Ado about Nothing'

    news that Don John and his men are coming to Messina; 'I learn in this letter, that Don John of Arragon comes this night to Messina.' Through this scene we gain insight into the strong characteristics of Beatrice as she boldly states, 'But for how many hath he killed? - for I indeed promised to eat all of his killing' this shows both the strong will and ruthlessness we come to expect from Beatrice throughout the play. Shakespeare uses her characteristics to force the play onwards as Beatrice manages to create the most bizarre situations; 'There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her', as she fights against her own feelings and the feelings of others.

    • Word count: 2464
  22. Explain how watching the film 'Much Ado About Nothing' contributed to your understanding and appreciation of the play.

    Here the season resembles spring with plenty of sunshine portraying a light, joyful atmosphere which can be sensed by the audience. This very same sort of atmosphere is used in the scene where there is love, making it suitable for this play which is commonly about love and its problems. In distinction to this, another example of pathetic fallacy is used presently before we see Don John conniving with one of his men in the tunnels. The film then shows dark sky with lightning and the sound of thunder.

    • Word count: 2362
  23. Discuss And Explain: In what ways could Act 4, Scene 1 be said to be dramatically significant?

    Borachio who had heard Don Pedro whilst he was smoking in the "...musty rooms..." also backs Don Pedro: ""...So did I, too, and he swore he would marry her tonight..." Claudio immediately believes Don Jon without even thinking about it and this gives us the first impression that he is a feeble character. His feeble and weak character is revealed even more in this scene because as soon as Don John tells him that Hero has betrayed him, he immediately believed Don Jon.

    • Word count: 2685
  24. 'How does the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick develop in ''Much Ado About Nothing

    To make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I'll none' Benedick and Beatrice both have very strong personalities and for a while it keeps them from coming together. Both of them dislike the idea of marriage, but secretly they are lonely. With a bit of help from their friends they realise that love and marriage is a good thing and finally they become happier. At the very beginning of the story, Benedick and Beatrice detest each other. Each encounter they have involves insults being fired around and concludes in an argument or a disagreement.

    • Word count: 2003
  25. 'Much Ado About Nothing' - study in detail the two main female characters, Beatrice and Hero.

    This is because if they stayed as part of their family, their family could lose all its respect as it was thought as such a bad thing. Women were expected to be quiet and obedient to their fathers and husbands. Hero was a typical lady of her time and followed social conventions. She was romantic and was not afraid to show her feelings. Whereas Beatrice is a free-spirited orphan and very outspoken. This was very unusual for any women, especially one of her wealthy class.

    • Word count: 2251

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • "Much Ado About Nothing" analyse how effectively the director, Kenneth Branagh, uses a variety of film techniques to introduce to the audience the themes, plots and characters of Shakespeare's play.

    "As you can see, Branagh has successfully made the play into a movie without a hitch. He uses a variety of filming techniques unavailable to those on stage, and used them well to create and introduce likeable characters. He has managed, in about 10 to 15 minutes, most of the plot details, characters and themes of the play, "Much Ado About Nothing". Jay Kulkarni 10D English Media Study Page 1 of 3"

  • Consider why Shakespeare requires two pairs of lovers in Much Ado About Nothing and to what extent you as a modern reader are above to respond sympathetically to how they are presented.

    "In conclusion, this play tackles love, marriage, friendship and society in a cleverly crafted way. Without two pairs of lovers we would have been unable to compare expectations of society against individual expectations. Shakespeare sucessfully explored Elizabethan values and ideas with Claudio and Hero. He provided the modern reader with a hero and heroine in Benedick and Beatrice. He allowed the Elizabethan audience to see a pair of lovers who were not willing to conform. The interest of the audience/reader is kept by the two plots running alongside one another. Without this the play would have been much less interesting and closed to certain discussion. He covers conventional, serious and often disturbing aspects of lover with Hero and Claudio, but contrasts them with the unconventional but meaningfull love of Beatrice and Benedick. All the themes chosen are as relevant today as they were when the play was written. I think it enables a modern reader to realise exactly what considerations had to be made with regard to love and relationships at the time and why."

  • Compare Shakespeare's Presentation of the Contrasting Relationships between Beatrice and Benedick and Claudio and Hero

    "In conclusion, Shakespeare presents the contrasting relationship between Beatrice and Benedick and Claudio and Hero through the style of language. The developments and progression of their relationships are triggered by significant moments in the plot and causes their attitudes towards the idea of loving each other change. Benedick and Beatrice use prose for the majority of the play to represent their down-to-earth relationship. It is through their playful banter and gulling which establishes the growth of an independent union on an intellectual level. Claudio and Hero's relationship is symbolised by the romantic verse they employ suited to their idealistic bond. It is turbulent throughout the play due to the events of deceit which prompt Claudio's harsh, suspicious and jealous traits which more than challenge Hero's gentle and innocent persona. It is through the difficulties their relationship is faced with that Claudio learns humility and to trust Hero."

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