Theme of Deception in Much Ado About Nothing Essay example

1381 Words 6 Pages
Theme of Deception in Much Ado About Nothing


Each of the main characters in Much Ado About Nothing is the victim of deception, and it is because they are deceived that they act in the ways that they do. Although the central deception is directed against Claudio in an attempt to destroy his relationship with Hero, it is the deceptions involving Beatrice and Benedick which provides the play's dramatic focus.

Nearly every character in the play at some point has to make inferences from what he or she sees, has been told or overhears. Likewise, nearly every character in the play at some point plays a part of consciously pretending to be what they are not. The idea of acting and the illusion it creates is rarely far from the surface -
…show more content…
The first introduction of the motif of overhearing is more important than it might seem at first sight. Eavesdropping is almost a full-time occupation in Messina: virtually everybody does it. Don Pedro and Claudio eavesdrop on the conversation between the supposed Hero and Borachio and draw the inferences that Don John's lie prejudiced them to draw. Benedick and Beatrice think they are eavesdropping on their friends' conversation, not realising that it is being held deliberately to deceive them. Beatrice is trapped into listening to Ursula and Hero by Hero's making Margaret pretend she has overheard a conversation about her (III.1.6).

The importance of the introduction of the idea of eavesdropping and mishearing in I.2 is stressed by the scenes that immediately follow. In I.3 the theme of deceit is again signalled. Don John reveals his true nature as an unscrupulous schemer, and his malevolence towards his brother - hidden under an apparent reconciliation, which all but his cronies have to accept at face value. Antonio's man was not the only one to overhear Don Pedro and Claudio: Borachio reports correctly what Don Pedro's plan is. Don John's love of vindictive mischief breaks out in the twisting of the ">true<-"> report to the ">false<-"> one that Antonio gave Leonato. After the masked dance, in which…