Essay on Gossip and Deceit in Much Ado About Nothing

1494 Words Jan 24th, 2007 6 Pages
Gossip and Deceit in Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing is primarily a play about gossip. Indeed, the title means a big fuss about a trifle, and by the end, this is exactly what happens. All accusations will come to nothing, causing the play to end the same way as if they never occurred at all. Shakespeare brilliantly plays on the meanings of nothing throughout this play. The word "nothing" would actually have been pronounced "noting" in his time. It can mean worthless, a person of little worth, or also mean everything, in the sense that much ado is made about everything (Smith). Much of the plot is moved along by characters eavesdropping on a conversation and either misunderstanding what they overhear or being deceived by
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When the prince congratulates Claudio upon Hero's father's approval to marry him he begins to be confused. In fact, it was the Prince wooing Hero for Claudio at the masked ball. Don John lied to Claudio to create a disturbance at the ball.
Don John's malevolent plan to ruin Claudio and Hero's wedding was to take effect the night before they were to wed. The malicious Don John constructed, or rather misconstructed, the scheme that insinuated Claudio's belief in Hero's faithlessness. It is Don John who reports to Claudio and Don Pedro that Hero is having an affair, and he who stage-manages an elaborate charade featuring his own henchman Borachio and an unwitting stand-in for Hero to lend credence to this fiction. Perhaps the most significant thing to be noted in connection with this deception is that the spectator does not witness the crucial scene in which Claudio overhears the counterfeit exchanges between Margaret and Borachio that persuade him of Hero's guilt. We learn of this episode only at second hand, when Borachio boasts of his exploit (Lucking).
The spectator of the play watches the Watchman watching Borachio while the latter narrates what he calls his tale relating how Claudio was inveigled into watching an artificial scene enacting Don John's fiction. Once again, what lies at the heart of this convoluted recursive machinery is a nothing (a nocturnal tryst between Hero and…