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Principal Characters Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon Don John, his jealous brother Clatidio, a young Florentine lord loyal to Don Pedro Benedick, a witty bachelor and another ally of Pedro Leonato, governor of Messina Hero, Leonato's daughter Beatrice, Hero's cousin, also known for her sharp wit Borachio, aide to Don John Story Overveiw After quashing the attempt of his bastard brother John to take control of Arragoii, Don Pedro, bound for home with his two friend s Claudio and Benedick, neared Messina. There, Governor Leonato, his daughter, Hero, and her cousin Beatrice, waited at the city gate to welcome both the victors and the defeated. Don John, as part of the truce, had agreed that Pedro would indeed rule Arragon; Pedro in turn agreed to permit John to return to his holdings there in peace Leonato beamed to see Pedro on his way home with few casualties - and reconciled with his brother as well. Beatrice, on the other hand, felt mixed emotions on greeting Benedick, Pedro's ally and her own wordy rival. "There is a merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her... " Leonato noted. "A skirmish of wits between them." After formally greeting the victorious Pedro, the governor invited him and his entourage to stay in Messina with his family for a few days before pushing on to Arragon. On the way to Leonato's house, however, Benedick and Claudio, lagged far behind; Claudio wished to solicit Benedick's opinion of Hero. To Claudio she was the sweetest lady he had ever laid eyes on. When Pedro, returning to hurry the two along, was told of Claudio's infatuation with Hero, he consented to help him gain favor with her; he would act as intermediary on Claudio's behalf. Now, a passerby loyal to Don John happened to overhear this conversation, and promptly informed his master of Claudio's desires to marry Hero. "That young upstart hath all the glory of my overthrow," John sneered. "If I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way." And so, Don John launched his plot against Claudio - and his attack against his powerful brother. That night at a masked celebration, it was agreed that Pedro would woo Hero for Claudio. All went as planned - until Don John made insinuating remarks, well within Claudio's range of hearing, hinting that Pedro, even as he ostensibly courted Hero on Claudio's behalf, actually intended to keep her for himself. Claudio became distraught. By the time Pedro arrived to break the good news - Hero and Claudio were to be married - Claudio had fled, irate and humiliated, acting like "a schoolboy who, being overjoyed with finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion and he steals it." But at length Beatrice found the pouting Claudio, reasoned with him, and brought him back. Later, in a gleeful, mischievous plan, Hero, Claudio, Pedro and Leonato decided to do some further matchmaking. They resolved that Benedick, a confirmed and contented bachelor, and Beatrice, a girl equally opposed to matrimony, would be impossible to match as husband and wife. So they undertook the devious challenge of bringing these two argumentative souls together before resuming their journey to Arragon. That very afternoon, while Benedick strolled in the palace's garden, Claudio, Pedro and Leonato, pretending not to see him, sat lamenting poor Beatrice, so tortured by her love for Benedick. At the same time, Hero and her handmaiden walked through an orchard, and, knowing that Beatrice was hidden there, solemnly talked of how inwardly tormented Benedick was by his unrequited love for Beatrice. The plan worked perfectly. The next time the two "merry rivals" united, instead of trading the usual insults and quarrels, each determined to console the other's supposed passion. Meanwhile, John, having learned of the forthcoming marriage of Claudio and Hero, conspired anew. He sent his aide, Borachio, to foot Claudio into believing that Hero had another lover. That evening, John lured Claudio and Pedro to a place near the window of Hero's bedchamber. Borachio had persuaded one of Hero's servants to dress in her mistress' clothing. In pretense of wooing Hero, Borachio then went through the motions of seducing the maid, casting their embracing shadow on the window. Upon witnessing this, Claudio and Pedro grew livid, but decided to wait until the weddin to properly denounce the faithless Hero. A nightwatchman later overheard Borachio bragging about his duplicity and arrested him. But in their stupidity, the town officials failed to reveal the plot in time to stay Hero's fall from grace. On the next morning, as the wedding vows were being taken, Claudio suddenly refused his bride. "There, Leonato," he told the governor, "take her back again. Give not this rotten orange to your friend ... She knows the heat of a luxurious bed." The wedding guests were stunned. Of course Hero denied everything, but to no avail. And then, flushed with disgrace, she swooned and fainted. Even Leonato accepted Claudio's eyewitness account of her betrayal. She has "fallen into a pit of ink, that the wide sea hath drops too few to wash her clean again," the father mourned. Nevertheless, before Leonato could disown his daughter, the friar performing the ceremony intervened. He believed in Hero's integrity, and counselled Leonato to have patience and trust. Then in a plan of his own, he convinced Leonato to give Hero a chance to "change slander to remorse." Leonato was to hide his daughter's slumped body away and let out word that she was dead. Meanwhile, the friar would seek evidence to prove her innocence. The two men then carried Hero out of the room, leaving only Beiiedick and Beatrice in the marriage hall. Though their talk was still filled with wit and jibes, now it was tempered with genuine affection. Benedick remarked: "I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?" But Beatrice held back her proclamations of love. She would not commit to him. First, to test his love, she made him promise to kill Claudio, the villain who had "slandered, scorned, dishonored [her] kinswoman." In the meantime, the constable had arrested Borachio and brought him before the town sexton for questioning. After listening to the story, the sexton elected to take Borachio before Leonato so that he too could hear how Hero had been wronged. Unfortunately, Leonato and his older brother were already taking matters into their own hands. According to plan, they sought out Claudio and Pedro and challenged them to fight: "Thou hast killed my child. if thou kill'st me, boy, thou shall kill a man." But neither Pedro nor Claudio wanted any part of sending two elderly gentlemen to their deaths; they refused the challenge and went on their way. Next, Benedick met Claudio and Pedro. He too dared the slanderous Claudio to due]. And still, Claudio refused the challenge. Just then up marched the constable, leading Borachio toward Lconato's palace. Claudio and Pedro were told of what had actually happened the night before; they had been tricked - and Hero defamed - by the plot of wicked Don John. That very night these two sought to take revenge, but John had fled the city. Also that night, Leoiiato, now informed about the truth behind his daughter's broken marriage ceremony, demanded that Claudio stand before him. He told Claudio that he could be forgiven of his offense against his dead daughter on two conditions: first, he must publicly confess Hero's innocence to all Messina and "hang an epitaph upon her tomb, and sing it to her bones"; secondly, he must marry Leonato's niece, who was "almost the copy" of Hero. Claudio gladly embraced Leonato's two requisites for penance. The following morning, after Claudio had sung to an empty tomb, he and his unknown bride-to-be stood side by side in the marriage hall. Then, as the veil was lifted away from her face, Claudio discovered to his overwhelming joy his own beloved Hero - alive! The friar calmed the ecstatic groom and promised to explain the whole affair once the ceremony was finished. Attending the wedding were Benedick and Beatrice - naturally matching wits again. In the course of their bantering, Benedick asked Beatrice why she did not show her love for him; after all, Leonato, Claudio and Pedro had indeed spoken of her feelings. In like manner, Beatrice insisted that Hero and her handmaiden must have been sorely deceived, for they had also sworn that Benedick loved her. Eventually, the pair of rivals did admit (reluctantly) that perhaps it was true - maybe they did love one another. Before the procession could depart the chapel, Benedick called everyone together and announced that he and Beatrice were ready to wed. That day, the double wedding, coupled with word that Don John had been captured, made Pedro's heart a merry one. And before leaving the chapel, the overjoyed Benedick gave Pedro, suddenly the sole bachelor among the three friends, some advice: "Get thee a wife, get thee a wife!" Commentary Throughout Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare artfully combines comedy with near tragedy. To complete his tapestry of interwoven plots, the resolution had to be brilliantly contrived. Some students of Shakespeare believe that, as one of the Bard's final comedies, this work inspired within him renewed moral consciousness. And indeed his tragic dramas from this point on focus on themes of ethical transgression and human weakness that had served only as fragmented bits of plots in previous plays. Much Ado is fraught with allusions to the symbol of cuckoldry - the horns a husband (Claudio) must wear when his wife has had an adulterous affair. For Benedick as well, the fear of wearing "horns" on his head spawns many of his witticisms concerning marriage. Often in Shakespeare's comedies, a strong woman such as Beatrice will at some point don men's clothing, as a sign of strength and equality in a man's world. However, Beatrice uses only her wit to protect her - a more than ample weapon. Men flee her cruel tongue as though it were a drawn "sword" or a "ferocious lion." The plot includes suggestions of violence, treachery and sorrow throughout; but, in the end, the schemes and threats amount merely to "much ado about nothing."
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Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
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Much Ado About Nothing By William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Words: 1735    Pages: 6    Paragraphs: 19    Sentences: 96    Read Time: 06:18
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              Principal Characters Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon Don John, his jealous brother Clatidio, a young Florentine lord loyal to Don Pedro Benedick, a witty bachelor and another ally of Pedro Leonato, governor of Messina Hero, Leonato's daughter Beatrice, Hero's cousin, also known for her sharp wit Borachio, aide to Don John
             
              Story Overveiw After quashing the attempt of his bastard brother John to take control of Arragoii, Don Pedro, bound for home with his two friend s Claudio and Benedick, neared Messina. There, Governor Leonato, his daughter, Hero, and her cousin Beatrice, waited at the city gate to welcome both the victors and the defeated. Don John, as part of the truce, had agreed that Pedro would indeed rule Arragon; Pedro in turn agreed to permit John to return to his holdings there in peace Leonato beamed to see Pedro on his way home with few casualties - and reconciled with his brother as well. Beatrice, on the other hand, felt mixed emotions on greeting Benedick, Pedro's ally and her own wordy rival. "There is a merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her. . . " Leonato noted. "A skirmish of wits between them. "
             
              After formally greeting the victorious Pedro, the governor invited him and his entourage to stay in Messina with his family for a few days before pushing on to Arragon. On the way to Leonato's house, however, Benedick and Claudio, lagged far behind; Claudio wished to solicit Benedick's opinion of Hero. To Claudio she was the sweetest lady he had ever laid eyes on. When Pedro, returning to hurry the two along, was told of Claudio's infatuation with Hero, he consented to help him gain favor with her; he would act as intermediary on Claudio's behalf.
             
              Now, a passerby loyal to Don John happened to overhear this conversation, and promptly informed his master of Claudio's desires to marry Hero. "That young upstart hath all the glory of my overthrow," John sneered. "If I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way. " And so, Don John launched his plot against Claudio - and his attack against his powerful brother.
             
              That night at a masked celebration, it was agreed that Pedro would woo Hero for Claudio. All went as planned - until Don John made insinuating remarks, well within Claudio's range of hearing, hinting that Pedro, even as he ostensibly courted Hero on Claudio's behalf, actually intended to keep her for himself. Claudio became distraught. By the time Pedro arrived to break the good news - Hero and Claudio were to be married - Claudio had fled, irate and humiliated, acting like "a schoolboy who, being overjoyed with finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion and he steals it. " But at length Beatrice found the pouting Claudio, reasoned with him, and brought him back.
             
              Later, in a gleeful, mischievous plan, Hero, Claudio, Pedro and Leonato decided to do some further matchmaking. They resolved that Benedick, a confirmed and contented bachelor, and Beatrice, a girl equally opposed to matrimony, would be impossible to match as husband and wife. So they undertook the devious challenge of bringing these two argumentative souls together before resuming their journey to Arragon.
             
              That very afternoon, while Benedick strolled in the palace's garden, Claudio, Pedro and Leonato, pretending not to see him, sat lamenting poor Beatrice, so tortured by her love for Benedick. At the same time, Hero and her handmaiden walked through an orchard, and, knowing that Beatrice was hidden there, solemnly talked of how inwardly tormented Benedick was by his unrequited love for Beatrice. The plan worked perfectly. The next time the two "merry rivals" united, instead of trading the usual insults and quarrels, each determined to console the other's supposed passion.
             
              Meanwhile, John, having learned of the forthcoming marriage of Claudio and Hero, conspired anew. He sent his aide, Borachio, to foot Claudio into believing that Hero had another lover.
             
              That evening, John lured Claudio and Pedro to a place near the window of Hero's bedchamber. Borachio had persuaded one of Hero's servants to dress in her mistress' clothing. In pretense of wooing Hero, Borachio then went through the motions of seducing the maid, casting their embracing shadow on the window. Upon witnessing this, Claudio and Pedro grew livid, but decided to wait until the weddin to properly denounce the faithless Hero.
             
              A nightwatchman later overheard Borachio bragging about his duplicity and arrested him. But in their stupidity, the town officials failed to reveal the plot in time to stay Hero's fall from grace. On the next morning, as the wedding vows were being taken, Claudio suddenly refused his bride. "There, Leonato," he told the governor, "take her back again. Give not this rotten orange to your friend . . . She knows the heat of a luxurious bed. " The wedding guests were stunned. Of course Hero denied everything, but to no avail. And then, flushed with disgrace, she swooned and fainted. Even Leonato accepted Claudio's eyewitness account of her betrayal. She has "fallen into a pit of ink, that the wide sea hath drops too few to wash her clean again," the father mourned. Nevertheless, before Leonato could disown his daughter, the friar performing the ceremony intervened. He believed in Hero's integrity, and counselled Leonato to have patience and trust. Then in a plan of his own, he convinced Leonato to give Hero a chance to "change slander to remorse. " Leonato was to hide his daughter's slumped body away and let out word that she was dead. Meanwhile, the friar would seek evidence to prove her innocence. The two men then carried Hero out of the room, leaving only Beiiedick and Beatrice in the marriage hall. Though their talk was still filled with wit and jibes, now it was tempered with genuine affection. Benedick remarked: "I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange? " But Beatrice held back her proclamations of love. She would not commit to him. First, to test his love, she made him promise to kill Claudio, the villain who had "slandered, scorned, dishonored [her] kinswoman. "
             
              In the meantime, the constable had arrested Borachio and brought him before the town sexton for questioning. After listening to the story, the sexton elected to take Borachio before Leonato so that he too could hear how Hero had been wronged. Unfortunately, Leonato and his older brother were already taking matters into their own hands. According to plan, they sought out Claudio and Pedro and challenged them to fight: "Thou hast killed my child. if thou kill'st me, boy, thou shall kill a man. " But neither Pedro nor Claudio wanted any part of sending two elderly gentlemen to their deaths; they refused the challenge and went on their way.
             
              Next, Benedick met Claudio and Pedro. He too dared the slanderous Claudio to due]. And still, Claudio refused the challenge.
             
              Just then up marched the constable, leading Borachio toward Lconato's palace. Claudio and Pedro were told of what had actually happened the night before; they had been tricked - and Hero defamed - by the plot of wicked Don John. That very night these two sought to take revenge, but John had fled the city.
             
              Also that night, Leoiiato, now informed about the truth behind his daughter's broken marriage ceremony, demanded that Claudio stand before him. He told Claudio that he could be forgiven of his offense against his dead daughter on two conditions: first, he must publicly confess Hero's innocence to all Messina and "hang an epitaph upon her tomb, and sing it to her bones"; secondly, he must marry Leonato's niece, who was "almost the copy" of Hero. Claudio gladly embraced Leonato's two requisites for penance.
             
              The following morning, after Claudio had sung to an empty tomb, he and his unknown bride-to-be stood side by side in the marriage hall. Then, as the veil was lifted away from her face, Claudio discovered to his overwhelming joy his own beloved Hero - alive! The friar calmed the ecstatic groom and promised to explain the whole affair once the ceremony was finished.
             
              Attending the wedding were Benedick and Beatrice - naturally matching wits again. In the course of their bantering, Benedick asked Beatrice why she did not show her love for him; after all, Leonato, Claudio and Pedro had indeed spoken of her feelings. In like manner, Beatrice insisted that Hero and her handmaiden must have been sorely deceived, for they had also sworn that Benedick loved her. Eventually, the pair of rivals did admit (reluctantly) that perhaps it was true - maybe they did love one another.
             
              Before the procession could depart the chapel, Benedick called everyone together and announced that he and Beatrice were ready to wed.
             
              That day, the double wedding, coupled with word that Don John had been captured, made Pedro's heart a merry one. And before leaving the chapel, the overjoyed Benedick gave Pedro, suddenly the sole bachelor among the three friends, some advice: "Get thee a wife, get thee a wife! "
             
              Commentary Throughout Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare artfully combines comedy with near tragedy. To complete his tapestry of interwoven plots, the resolution had to be brilliantly contrived. Some students of Shakespeare believe that, as one of the Bard's final comedies, this work inspired within him renewed moral consciousness. And indeed his tragic dramas from this point on focus on themes of ethical transgression and human weakness that had served only as fragmented bits of plots in previous plays.
             
              Much Ado is fraught with allusions to the symbol of cuckoldry - the horns a husband (Claudio) must wear when his wife has had an adulterous affair. For Benedick as well, the fear of wearing "horns" on his head spawns many of his witticisms concerning marriage.
             
              Often in Shakespeare's comedies, a strong woman such as Beatrice will at some point don men's clothing, as a sign of strength and equality in a man's world. However, Beatrice uses only her wit to protect her - a more than ample weapon. Men flee her cruel tongue as though it were a drawn "sword" or a "ferocious lion. " The plot includes suggestions of violence, treachery and sorrow throughout; but, in the end, the schemes and threats amount merely to "much ado about nothing. "
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