William Shakespeare's Presentation of the Two Pairs of Lovers in Much Ado About Nothing

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William Shakespeare's Presentation of the Two Pairs of Lovers in Much Ado About Nothing

'Much Ado About Nothing' would have been pronounced 'Much Ado About Noting' in Shakespeare's time. Noting would infer seeing how things appear on the surface as opposed to how things really are. This provides an immediate clue as to how the play and the presentation of the story of the two pairs of lovers would be received by an audience of the time, living as they did in a patriarchal society which was based on social conventions and appearances. It can also be taken as an initial comment by Shakespeare about that society and its values and moral codes. Modern audiences, however,
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She behaves in the manner society expects and does not question it at all.

Claudio too is every bit the courtly hero of tradition and convention as demanded by the society of the time. He is a dashing young count returned from the wars in a blaze of glory. Claudio represents the romantic, with the flowery speech of a lover. He says of Hero;

"Can the world buy such a jewel?"

His love is based on an appreciation of her looks and status.

In Elizabethan times women were wooed in the presence of and often on behalf of other parties as in the play. Thus the business of Don Pedro at the masked ball wooing Hero on behalf of Claudio, rather a strange concept to modern audiences, would be totally accepted as normal to a contemporary audience. Shakespeare introduces devices of masks and deception to underline the superficiality of a society where truths are hidden below appearances.

Throughout the first acts of the play, Hero and Claudio behave and proceed with their courtship in a manner befitting the conventions of the time. Claudio wants to be sure that Hero would make a suitable bride before he pursues her. He asks Don Pedro: "Hath Leonato any Son, my Lord?"

This would not be unreasonable at the time, as suitors were expected to find a partner who was of