Author: William Shakespeare
Written: Between 1588 and 1593
Pages: 161 (In Cambridge School edition, with play on one side of the page and additional information on the opposite page and between the acts.)
Much Ado about Nothing is a play about misunderstandings. Claudio falls in love with the beautiful Hero, who returns her love, and they plan to marry. Meanwhile, the bickering Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into believing the other loves them by the use of gossip, and each decides to return the other’s love.
The evening before Claudio and Hero’s wedding, the jealous Don John tricks Claudio into believing that Hero is unfaithful to him, so Claudio leave Hero at the alter, where she faints and appears to have died. On the evening before the wedding however, Don John’s two henchmen were arrested after the scheme was overheard, but all could not be revealed in time to save the wedding.
Believing his daughter to be unchaste, Hero’s father takes vengeance on Claudio, who still believes Hero to be dead. Just as the threat of a fight is imminent, the blundering constable brings in the villains and all is revealed. Claudio mourns the death of Hero, only to be united to her at the alter the next day, unaware that he is really marrying his true love. Benedick and Beatrice discover that they have been set up, but decide to go ahead with a marriage also.
This is the first of Shakespeare’s comedies that I have read and I was pleasantly surprised. I had always enjoyed his tragedies, so I didn’t know what to expect from this play, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! The relatively complex plot was surprisingly easy to follow, and the frequent misunderstandings that often define Shakespeare’s plays were incredibly believable. I found myself being drawn in and wanting to discover the outcome of the play.
I also found that this play was somewhat easier to understand than some of the more complex tragedies like Othello, as the scheming was less complex and easier to comprehend – this also meant that it was easy to read it in a day! After reading this comedy, I am looking forward to exploring more!
Beatrice – Lord, I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face, I had rather lie in the woollen!
Leonato – You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
Beatrice – What should I do with him – dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that hath no beard is more than a youth: and he that hath no beard is less than a man: and he that is more than a youth, is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him… (Act 2, Scene 1)