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Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

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Title: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare


1
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
2
Slides 1 -2 Summary Slide 3 Family
Tree Slide 4 Character of Scout Finch Slide
5 Character of Atticus Slide 6 Character
of Jem and Slide 7 Other important
characters Slide 8 Other important
characters Slide 9 Themes Slide 10
Themes Slide 11 Themes Slide 12
Themes Slide 13 Key Questions and
Quotations Slide 14
Summary Key Points
Index Page
3
Slide 1 Summary Part 1
  • Leonato, is a respectable nobleman, who lives in
    the Italian town of Messina with his daughter
    Hero and niece Beatrice and elderly brother
    Antonio.
  • At the start of the play Leonato prepares to
    welcome his friends from war his friends
    include Don Pedro a prince and close friend of
    Leonato and two soldiers Claudio and Benedick.
  • Claudio is a well respected nobleman, Benedick is
    a clever witty man who makes jokes often to
    ridicule his friends.
  • Don John is Don Pedros illegitimate brother who
    is also part of the group. Don John unlike his
    brother is sullen and bitter looking to make
    trouble for others.  
  • The soldiers arrive at Leonatos home and Claudio
    falls in love with Hero. Whilst Benedick and
    Beatrice flirt through their exchange of witty
    insults.
  • Claudio and Hero quickly decide to get married.
    To pass their time before the wedding the group
    of friends decide to get Benedick and Beatrice to
    stop fighting and to fall in love with each
    other, the trick is successful and the two
    secretly fall for each other.
  • Don John in his sullen mood decides to disrupt
    the fun. He has his friend Borachio make love
    to Margaret, Heros serving women in Heros room
    late at night. The make love in the window and
    Don John brings Claudio and Don Pedro to watch
    thus accusing Hero of having an affair.
  • Claudio in his anguish accuses Hero of having an
    affair and abandons her on the altar on the day
    of their wedding.
  • Heros humiliated family decide to pretend she
    has died of grief and shock, and they hide her
    away.

4
Slide 2 Summary- Part 2
  • Benedick and Beatrice finally get together
  • The night watchmen overhear Borachio bragging
    about his crime and as a result Dogberry and
    Verges, the heads of the local police, arrest
    both Borachio and Conrad another accomplice.
  • It becomes apparent that Hero is in fact
    innocent.
  • Claudio who believes Hero is dead, grieves for
    his loss.
  • Leonato tells Claudio that to pay for his
    treatment of Hero he must publicly apologise and
    tell everybody that she is in fact innocent.
  • Leonato tells Claudio that he must also marry his
    niece a young girl who looks similar to Hero.
  • Claudio goes to the church preparing to marry the
    mysterious niece.
  • Hero reveals herself as the mysterious niece.
    Claudio is overwhelmed with joy.
  • Bendick then asks Beatrice if she will marry him.
  • The joyful lovers celebrate with a dance and a
    double wedding.
  • This is one of Shakespeares comedies.

5
Slide 3 Characters The Family Tree
  • Leonato
  • Nobleman and father of Hero

Antonio Brother of Leonato
Margaret Heros serving lady sleeps with
Borachio
Hero Leonatos daughter loves Claudio
Beatrice Leonatos niece, loves Benedick
Don John Illegitimate brother of Don Pedro
Don Pedro Friend of Claudio
Claudio Leonatos friend and loves Hero
Key Lovers Family Friends
Borachio Friend of Don John
Benedick Friend of Claudio loves Beatrice
6
Slide 4 Characters
  • Don Pedro
  • Don Pedro is the most elusive character and also
    the most noble in the social hierarchy of the
    play.
  • He is friends with Benedick and Claudio and
    although they are equal in wit and intelligence
    ,they must rely on him and seek his approval as
    he is of a higher rank.
  • Don Pedro is well aware of the power he has.
    Whether or not he abuses his power is open to
    question. Don Pedro unlike his brother Don John
    uses his authority for a positive end.
  • Don Pedro manipulates other characters for
    instance, he insists on wooing Hero for Claudio
    himself, while masked, rather than allowing
    Claudio to profess his love to Hero first.
  • Obviously everything does turn out for the best
    and Don Pedro's motives are purely in the
    interest of his friend. However as the audience
    we are left wandering why Don Pedro feels a need
    to create such an elaborate plan merely to inform
    Hero of Claudios romance.
  • It would appear that it is Don Pedros royal
    right to do what he wishes.
  • Despite his strange motives he does work to bring
    about happiness. For example he convinces
    Beatrice and Bendick that they love each other,
    he is responsible for orchestrating the whole
    plot and plays the role of director.
  • Don Pedro is the only one of the three friends
    not to marry. Benedick jokes in the final scene
    that the melancholy prince must get thee a wife
    in order to enjoy true happiness (V.iv.117).
  • Don Pedro as a result is sad at the end of the
    joyous comedy, and the audience are left asking
    why? Perhaps he is pained by Beatrices refusal
    to marry him when she assumes he is joking at the
    ball, perhaps he does truly love her.
  • The play as a whole does not give us an explicit
    reason for Don Pedro's behaviour and subsequently
    he becomes a thought provoking and mesmerising
    character.

7
Slide 5 Characters
  • Benedick
  • Benedick had recently returned from fighting and
    vows that he will never marry.
  • Benedick openly flirts with Beatrice in a battle
    of wits to outsmart and out insult each other.
  • However is is obvious that Benedick does love
    Beatrice and this is all a rouse.
  • When Benedick overhears Claudio and Don Pedro
    discussing Beatrices desire for Benedick he vows
    to be horribly in love with her, (II.iii.207).
  • In effect benedick is simply trying to outwit
    Betarice in the game of love.
  • Benedick is one of the most dramatic characters
    in the play. He continually performs for the
    benfits of others, he is an entertainer who
    indulges in wit and playfulness.
  • He delivers a perfect example of this during the
    masked ball when he exaggertaes that Beatrice
    used him and he expresse to his friends that he
    would rather be sent to the farthest corner of
    the world rather than spend time with his
    nemesis.
  • Will your grace command me any service to the
    worlds end? I will go on the slightest errand
    now to the Antipodes that you can devise to send
    me on. I will fetch you a toothpicker from the
    furthest inch of Asia . . . do you any embassage
    to the pigmies, rather than hold three words
    conference with this harpy (II.i.229235).
  • As a result of his flamboyant nature it is not
    easy to tell if he is in love with Beatrice all
    along or if he fall for her during the play.
  • His refusal to marry doesnt change over the
    play, however he does change his mind when he
    decides to fall for Beatrice. His refusal to
    marry could simply be a mask to hide his true
    feelings.
  • The change in Benedick is evident when he
    challenges Claudio to a dual over Heros unchaste
    behaviour. This is when the audience realises
    that Benedick has switched his allegiances from
    Claudio his former best friend to Beatrice.

8
Slide 6 Characters
  • Beatrice
  • Beatrice is Leonatos niece, although close to
    her cousin Hero they could not be more different.
    Betarice is feisty, cyuncial and witty, and
    continues to play a merry war of wits with
    Benedick.
  • The play suggests that Beatrice was once in love
    with Benedick but he led her on and the
    relationship ended.
  • When Beatrice and Benedick meet again the two
    compete to outdo each other with clever insults.
  • Although she appears hardened and sharp, Beatrice
    is very vulnerable. Once she overhears Hero
    discussing that Benedick is in love with her, she
    opens herself to sensitivities and weakness of
    love.
  • Beatrice is one of Shakespeares strong female
    characters.
  • She refuses to marry because she has not
    discovered the perfect equal partner and she is
    unwilling to give up her liberty for a
    controlling husband.
  • Beatrice explodes at Claudio when he humiliates
    Hero. She overtly rages at Claudio and rebels
    against the unequal treatment of women. This is
    supported when she says
  • O that I were a man for his sake! Or that I had
    any friend would be a man for my sake! she
    passionately exclaims. I cannot be a man with
    wishing, therefore I will die a woman with
    grieving (IV.i.312318).

9
Slide 7 Characters
  • Hero 
  • A beautiful attractive lady. She falls for
    Claudio almost instantly and is crudely betrayed
    by the men in play.
  • When Claudio accuses her of betrayal she suffers
    terribly.
  • Leonato
  • A respected and well to do noble.
  • The action of the play takes place in his home in
    Messina Italy
  • As governor of Messina he is second in power only
    to Don Pedro.
  • Claudio
  • A very young soldier who has won great acclaim
    fighting under Don Pedro.
  • He falls quickly in love with Hero and appears to
    be a fool in love when Don John deceives him.
  • His immature attitude allows him to reject Hero
    as quickly as he accepts her, and he is hasty
    when he believes the rumours and takes his
    revenge on their wedding day.

10
Slide 8 Characters
  • Don John 
  • Don John is the illegitimate brother of Don
    Pedro he is sometimes known as the bastard and
    is often referred to by this name in the play.
  • Don John is melancholy and sullen by nature and
    uses the little power he has to ruin the
    happiness in the play, he is the villain of the
    play, he has an evil attitude and intends to
    cause chaos throughout the play. He envies his
    brothers power and authority.
  • Margaret 
  • Margaret is Heros serving woman, who helps
    Borachio and Don John deceive Claudio. Margaret
    is of a low class, compared to Hero and her other
    serving woman Ursula.
  • Margaret is honest however she does have some
    dealings in the villanious world of the play when
    she helps Don John and her lover Borachio.
  • Maragaret also likes to break decorum with bawdy
    jokes and teasing people.
  • Borachio 
  • Borachio is the lover of Margaret, Heros serving
    woman. He works with Don John to trick Claudio
    and Don Pedro.
  • His name means drunkard in Italian, which
    serves as a subtle direction in the play.

11
Slide 9 Themes
  • Social Grace
  • The characters in the play use dense, colourful
    speech, which represents the ideal that
    Renaissance courtiers strove for.
  • The plays language uses metaphor and rhetoric
    throughout. Benedick, Claudio and Don Pedro all
    produce the kind of witty banter that courtiers
    used to attract attention.
  • Courtiers were expected to speak highly contrived
    language but to make it appear effortless.
    Bendick and his companions try to display this
    effortless performance in both their behaviour
    and language.
  • The play mocks the fanciful love language that
    courtiers used. For example when Claudio falls in
    love he tries to be perfect as Benedick notes
    His words are a very fantastical banquet, just
    so many strange dishes (II.iii.1819).
  • Although the young gallants seem casual in their
    displays they constantly struggle to maintain
    their social position and Benedick and Claudio
    strive to remain in Don Pedro's favour.
  • When Claudio agrees to let Don Pedro woo Hero, it
    is not because Claudio can not but that he must
    stay in Don Pedros favour.
  • When Claudio believes Don Pedro has deceived him
    and wooed Hero for himself, he cannot drop his
    polite civility even though he is enraged.
    Beatrice jokes that Claudio is civil as an
    orange, punning on the Seville orange, a bitter
    fruit (II.i.256).
  • Claudio remains quiet and polite despite his
    upset when he speaks of Don Pedro and Hero I
    wish him joy of her (II.i.170) Claudio
    ultimately chooses his obedience to Don Pedro
    over his love for Hero.
  • Claudios social propriety eventually leads him
    into a trap when he believes Don John and
    abandons Hero on their wedding day.
  • Obviously Don Johns plans do not work as Claudio
    remains in Don Pedros favour, and Hero has to
    suffer.

12
Slide 10 Themes
  • Deception
  • This play is based upon deliberate deception.
    Some of this deception is explicit whilst others
    are implicit.
  • The betrayal of Claudio results in Heros
    disgrace whilst her supposed death prepares the
    way for her reconciliation.
  • In a much more light-hearted way Beatrice and
    Benedick are deceived into thinking that each
    loves the other. Ultimately as a result they
    fall in love.
  • Subsequently the play shows that deception is not
    always a negative experience and creates love.
  • It is often difficult to decide what is good
    deception and what is bad deception. When Don
    Pedro woos Hero, Claudio begins to distrust him
  • believing he has deceived him. As the
    audiences believe in the illusions of the theatre
    it becomes apparent that the plays characters
    are believing the illusions they create for each
    other.
  • Bendick and Beatrice flirt at the masked ball
    however each is aware of the others presence yet
    they pretend not to know each other, ultimately
    deceiving themselves and each other.
  • After Claudio has shamed and rejected Hero,
    Leonatos household publish her death. That she
    died to punish Claudio.
  • When Claudio comes to marry Leonatos niece
    deception takes place in the institution of
    marriage, suggesting that the ceremony has little
    to do with love.
  • Ultimately deception has positive and negative
    effects it is a means to the resolution of the
    play. It is used to create an illusion which
    allows people to succeed not in love but in
    social stance.

13
Slide 11 Themes
  • Honour
  • The wedding ceremony in which Claudio rejects
    Hero and accuses of her of infidelity ultimately
    shaming her in front of her father is the plays
    climax.
  • In Shakespeare's time a woman's worth was based
    on her virginity and chaste, for a woman to loose
    her honour by having sex before marriage
    ultimately meant that she would loose her social
    standing, something from which she would never
    recover.
  • The womans shaming would impact the whole
    family. As a result Leonato attempts to
    obliterate Hero completely to shield his family
    from dishonour. Hence from her, let her die
    (IV.i.153)
  • Leonato speaks of a loss of honour and he feels
    that he cannot escape from this loss of honour
    and uses the metaphor of a stain which he can not
    get rid of O she is fallen / Into a pit of ink,
    that the wide sea / Hath drops too few to wash
    her clean again (IV.i.138140).
  • Heros loss of honour was a form of complete
    annihilation
  • For mean honour depended on friends and
    acquaintance in a much more military nature.
  • Men were more able to depend their honour and the
    honour of his family by fighting.
  • Beatrice wishes for Benedick to avenge Heros
    honour by duelling with Claudio.
  • Hero cannot gain her own honour but Benedick can
    do it for her.

14
Slide 12 Key Quotations
  • Key Quotations
  • Benedick speaks to Claudio and Don Pedro, about
    how even the wildest men eventually calm dowm to
    love and marriage.
  • The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible
    Benedick bear it, pluck off the bulls horns and
    set them in my forehead, and let me be vilely
    painted, and in such great letters as they write
    Here is good horse to hire let them signify
    under my sign Here you may see Benedick, the
    married man. (I.i.215219)
  • Beatrice gives her witty explanation as to why
    she will not marry
  • What should I do with himdress him in my apparel
    and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that hath
    a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no
    beard is less than a man and he that is more
    than a youth is not for me, and he that is less
    than a man, I am not for him (II.i.2832)
  • Benedick has overheard Claudio, Leonato, and Don
    Pedro discussing Beatrices
  • love for him. In a soliloquy he ponders this.
  • They say the lady is fair. Tis a truth, I can
    bear them witness. And virtuoustis so, I cannot
    reprove it. And wise, but for loving me. By my
    troth, it is no addition to her witnor no great
    argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in
    love with her. (II.iii.204208)

15
Slide 13 Key Quotations
  • Key Quotations
  • Claudio has openly disgraced Hero at their
    wedding ceremony, returning her to Leonato
  • O Hero! What a Hero hadst thou been If half thy
    outward graces had been placed About thy thoughts
    and counsels of thy heart! But fare thee well,
    most foul, most fair, farewell Thou pure impiety
    and impious purity. For thee Ill lock up all the
    gates of love, And on my eyelids shall conjecture
    hang To turn all beauty into thoughts of
    harm, And never shall it more be gracious
    (IV.i.98106)
  • Dogberry apprehends Conrad and Borachio and
    unravels Don Johns plot to deceive Claudio and
    ruin Hero
  • Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not
    suspect my years? O that he were here to write me
    down an ass! But masters, remember that I am an
    ass. Though it be not written down, yet forget
    not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art
    full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by
    good witness. I am a wise fellow, and which is
    more, an officer, and which is more, a
    householder, and which is more, as pretty a piece
    of flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows
    the law, go to . . . and one that hath two gowns,
    and everything handsome about him. Bring him
    away. O that I had been writ down an ass!
             (IV.ii.6778)

16
Slide 14 Key Questions
  • Key Questions
  • Remind yourslef of the whole of Act 5 Scene 4
    from where the Friar says Did I not tell you she
    was innocent? to the end of the play.
  • How appropriate do you find this scene as an
    ending to the play.
  • (AQA June 2006)
  • What do you find interesting about Shakespeares
    presentation of Beatrice in the play?
  • You may confine yourself to two episodes or
    range more widely if you prefer.
  • (AQA June 2006)

17
Slide 15 Summary
  • The play is one of Shakespeare's comedies and the
    resolution ends in the marriage of both couples.
  • The play is set in Messina in Italy
  • The action takes place at Leonatos house
  • Leonato is Heros father and Beatrices uncle
  • Don Pedro, Claudio and Benedick return from war
    at the start of the play.
  • Don Pedro is the social supreme in the play.
  • Don John is the illegitimate bastard brother of
    Don Pedro.
  • Benedick and Beatrice fall in love
  • Hero and Claudio fall in love
  • The play focuses on the love stories. The main
    plot centres around the love and deception of
    Hero and Claudios relationship.
  • The sub plot follows the fanciful and playful
    love between Beatrice and Benedick.
  • Both Hero and Claudio are deceived by Don John
    and Borachio.
  • The play centres around deception deception has
    negative and positive effects in the play.
  • Leonato is Heros father and as a result suffers
    the shame and deception of Don John and Borachio.
  • The play reflects many of the social
    circumstances of the time such as honour, love,
    social standing and social grace.
  • The use of language is important throughout the
    play.
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