An Understanding Evil in Shakespeare´s Much Ado About Nothing

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An Understanding Evil
Several of William Shakespeare’s plays focus on the presence of a
characters public appearance in the eyes of spectatorship and observation, and the
problems that result from misunderstandings. Although it is dark at times, Much Ado
About Nothing is a comedy that exemplifies this theme. As spectatorship is an action
characters engage in, it becomes a challenge to keep up with the motives and truthful
appearances of identities throughout the play. Due to Claudio’s ability to be easily
manipulated, his motives behind rejecting Hero are masked by Don John’s evil attempt to
destroy him and his marriage. In Much Ado About Nothing, Claudio is viewed as a victim
of spectatorship and Don John as the perpetrator. Although Don John engages very
minimally throughout the play, he portrays the misunderstood evil that drives the drama
“about nothing.”
Shakespeare’s writing underlies a broader point to be made on the precarious
nature of engaging in spectatorship: it can easily go wrong. The nature of a character’s
intentions can easily be lost as they guess what is going on, drawing to false conclusions.
As shown throughout the play, this uncertain nature of spectatorship is what leads to the
importance of the characters decisions. We see this first hand as Don John and his
scheming nature attempts to trick Claudio into believing Hero is unfaithful through a
plotted “investigation” the night before their wedding. “The word is too good to paint…