Much Ado About Nothing

a comedy (1598?) by Shakespeare.

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▪ work by Shakespeare
 comedy in five acts by William Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William), written probably in 1598–99 and printed in a quarto edition from the author's own manuscript in 1600. The play takes an ancient theme—that of a woman falsely accused of unfaithfulness—to brilliant comedic heights. Shakespeare used as his main source for the Claudio-Hero plot a story from Matteo Bandello (Bandello, Matteo)'s Novelle (1554–73); he also may have consulted Ludovico Ariosto (Ariosto, Ludovico)'s Orlando furioso and Edmund Spenser (Spenser, Edmund)'s The Faerie Queene. The Beatrice-Benedick plot is essentially Shakespeare's own, though he must have had in mind his own story of wife taming in The Taming of the Shrew.

      Shakespeare sets up a contrast between the conventional Claudio and Hero, who have the usual expectations of each other, and Beatrice and Benedick, who are highly skeptical of romance and courtship and, seemingly, each other. Claudio is deceived by the jealous Don John into believing that Hero is prepared to abandon him for Claudio's friend and mentor, Don Pedro. This malicious fiction is soon dispelled, but Claudio seems not to have learned his lesson; he believes Don John a second time, and on a much more serious charge—that Hero is actually sleeping with other men, even on the night before her impending wedding to Claudio. Supported by Don Pedro, who also accepts the story (based on seeming visual evidence), Claudio publicly rejects Hero at the wedding ceremony. She is so shamed that her family is obliged to report that she is dead. Don John's plot is eventually unveiled by the bumbling constable Dogberry and his comically inept fellow constable, but not before the story of Hero has taken a nearly tragic turn. Claudio's slanders of Hero have so outraged her cousin Beatrice that she turns to Benedick, pleading with him to kill Claudio. Former friends are near the point of mayhem until the revelations of the night watch prove the villainy of Don John and the innocence of Hero.

      Meanwhile, Beatrice and Benedick carry on “a kind of merry war” that tests their wits in clever but crushing repartees. Both have a reputation for being scornful and wary of marriage. Though attracted to each other for many reasons, they find it virtually impossible to get beyond the game of one-upping each other. Eventually their friends have to intervene with a virtuous ruse designed to trick each of them into believing that the other is hopelessly but secretly suffering the pangs of love. The ruse works because it is essentially true. At the play's end, both couples are united.

      For a discussion of this play within the context of Shakespeare's entire corpus, see William Shakespeare: Shakespeare's plays and poems (Shakespeare, William).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • much ado about nothing — If there s a lot of fuss about something trivial, there s much ado about nothing …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • Much ado about nothing — (spr. mötsch ĕdū ĕbaūt nŏthing), »Viel Lärm um nichts«, sprichwörtlich gewordener Titel eines Lustspiels von Shakespeare …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Much ado about nothing — (engl., spr. möttsch ĕduh ĕbaut nöthĭng, »Viel Lärm um nichts«), sprichwörtlicher Titel eines Shakespeareschen Lustspiels …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Much Ado About Nothing — For other uses, see Much Ado About Nothing (disambiguation). Facsimile of the title page of the quarto version of Much adoe about Nothing Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy written by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and… …   Wikipedia

  • Much Ado about Nothing — Viel Lärm um nichts (engl. Much Ado about Nothing) ist eine Komödie um Liebe und Intrigen von William Shakespeare; sie unterscheidet sich von Shakespeares anderen romanesken Komödien durch den realeren Bezug zur Liebe (Claudio interessiert sich… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • much ado about nothing —    If there s a lot of fuss about something trivial, there s much ado about nothing.   (Dorking School Dictionary)    ***    When people make much ado about nothing, they make a lot of fuss about something which is not important.     There was a… …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • Much Ado About Nothing — Beaucoup de bruit pour rien  Pour le film, voir Beaucoup de bruit pour rien (film). Beaucoup de bruit pour rien Couverture …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Much Ado About Nothing — a comedy (1598?) by Shakespeare. * * * Much Ado About Nothing [Much Ado About Nothing] a play (c. 1598) by William Shakespeare. It is a comedy about two love affairs, one between Beatrice and Benedick and the other between Hero and Claudio …   Useful english dictionary

  • much ado about nothing — a lot of trouble and excitement about something which is not important. People have been getting very upset about the seating arrangements for the Christmas dinner, but as far as I m concerned it s all much ado about nothing …   New idioms dictionary

  • Much Ado About Nothing — Much A|do A|bout Noth|ing a humorous play by William Shakespeare. People sometimes use the title as a phrase to describe a situation in which there has been a lot of excitement about something that is not really important …   Dictionary of contemporary English


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