Classical Imagery in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing Essay

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Classical Imagery in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing


The romance of history has lured many of the world's greatest authors to search for their subject matter in the pages of time. William Shakespeare serves as a unfailing embodiment of the emotion of days past; yet he also turned to those before him. The comedy Much Ado About Nothing is a poignant love story, riddled with stunning imagery and allusion. An examination of the development of certain characters, the imagery and allusion, diction, and structure illustrate that the author wrote in a style heavily influenced by the classical movement of Ancient Greece and Rome. The classical thread strengthens the tapestry which is Much Ado About Nothing.

The play is staged in the
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The play was written in 1598 during the reign of Elizabeth I of England. The following statement certainly rings true of William Shakespeare:
English authors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries made extensive use of classical mythology, in drama and narrative poems, as ornaments in lyric poetry, and by means of mythological allusion in prose and verse works.1

The mythology of Ancient Greece and Rome appears in the characterization, imagery, allusion, and theme of this play. The references to the classical period are both bold and subtle as Shakespeare weaves them into the work.

The opening scene immediately sets the stage as well as introduces the characters and their relationships, thus allowing the playwright to ply his stylistic trade.
Shakespeare uses a subtle ploy: the setting of the scene is Italy, which was the very heart of the classical world. Messina seems to exist as a peaceful town, nestled in nature. The pastoral setting is characteristic of the Renaissance movement which itself was a return to the classical glorification of nature. As the play unravels, it becomes evident that many conventions were selected due to their specifically classical undertones.

The beginning is reminiscent of the epic genre: the first scene starts in medias res with the announcement of Don Pedro's triumph in battle. The epic style is characterised as possessing "a hero of great national or even cosmic importance, a setting ample in scale,…