Comedy in Much Ado about Nothing Essay

1469 Words Mar 13th, 2014 6 Pages
Explore the importance of disguise and deception in Much Ado about Nothing. Are they merely effective plot devices?
Much Ado about Nothing was written by William Shakespeare in 1598, towards the middle of his career and during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Disguise and deception are used to great comic effect, as well as to drive the main and sub-plot forward. However, an attentive audience may notice how disguise and deception can also be seen to develop characters and relationships, and show some serious underlying concerns that Shakespeare may be trying to express.
An instance where disguise and deception are used to fuel the main plot is at the masked ball. The simple fact that everyone there is wearing masks, or ‘visors’ symbolises
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It is ironic that earlier in the play Claudio gives an extravagant and poetic speech, speaking in iambic pentameter to show his high status and love interest. In response to this, Don Pedro promises he can ‘unclasp her heart’ for Claudio, and uses the pronoun ‘I’ throughout. It is therefore extremely ironic that he goes on to say ‘she shall be thine’ as a pose to ‘mine’ which just shows the deceptive nature of the wooing, for, if Claudio loved Hero as much as he claimed, he would surely do it himself. This also portrays a strong sense of elitism and male dominance, which may depict Shakespeare views on Elizabethan England, perhaps how disguise and deception actually played a large part in society at the time, although Shakespeare light-heartedly raises these issues through the genre of comedy.
Don John urges the main plot forward, and is responsible for creating the obstacle that Claudio and Hero need to overcome in order to be united. This obstacle and the marriage which promises new life are comedic conventions that depict the main plot, and enable Shakespeare to have a beginning, middle and end. The importance of the deception in this scene is by its position in relation to the play as a whole, as Act 3 was often the climax of a 5 act play, and the past events all seem to be leading up to this moment. The fact that Claudio and Hero’s relationship was…