“Much Ado About Nothing” By Shakespeare

William Shakespeare has written words of eccentricity and has made characters that never cease to reach their full depth because they have unfathomable depth. He has changed literature and has mutated and metamorphosed the English Language and Literature into a very pure and raw form, a form that still conceives its boundless beauty. He was not only a playwright or a dramatist, he was an actor as well as a poet. His words have made endless souls cry, laugh, smile and feel melancholy at the same time just because he wrote and thought in a way that the world had not seen before. His words and plots have intertwined so many minds that even now, 6 centuries later, he still remains a legend of English Literature and he will as long as human existence taints the world with its color, his manuscripts and their unbounded effect shall continue to amaze countless minds and souls.

The moment he came into this world his fate was written like everyone else’s but little did he know that his life was meant to bewilder people of all sorts for centuries later. He has outlived the life written on that indestructible piece of paper known as fate for now he lives in the hearts, minds, souls and bodies of those that remember his words and know their essence, he lives in the threads of time and passes through them when existence reads his works. Shakespeare has written works of commendable appreciation and has succeeded in astounding all sorts of audiences. In fact, he has seen the world with an eye that has never existed before, a sight that he knew how to use best. He is regardless, The Bard Of Avon.

Image result for much ado about nothing book cover folger shakespeare library
Picture Courtesy: www.simonandschuster.com

The Playwright, Plot and More Information

Much Ado About Nothing is a play written by none other than William Shakespeare. It is one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies and its genre is romantic-comedy. The play itself is a great work of art like many other Shakespearean plays and before we get into the details let’s talk about its well known playwright, William Shakespeare.

Most of this information is taken from the copy of Much Ado About Nothing that I have which has a detailed analysis side by side from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.. Folger Shakespeare Library is a privately funded research organization found in 1932 by Henry Clay and Emily Jordan Folger and this organization is “Dedicated to Shakespeare and the civilization of early Modern Europe”. My copy is also edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. I am really grateful that this copy contains like a whole analysis and information about reading Shakespeare’s language, his life, his theater, the publication of his plays, introduction to his text and of course side to side meanings and analysis of difficult words, references, proverbs, etc throughout the play. It even contains an essay on Much Ado About Nothing: A Modern Perspective by Gail Kern Paster. Briefly, they give you a lot of important information and research that actually helps you a lot so most of the information that I will be sharing will be from this original book.

William Shakespeare was a playwright, a poet and an actor. He was born in April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon and he died in April 1616. There aren’t a lot of documents that state about his early life but he spent his professional life in London to support his professional career and later came back to Stratford as a wealthy landowner. His father, John Shakespeare was an alderman and bailiff of Stratford. In 1582, at the age of 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway and their marriage was followed by the birth of their daughter Susanna in 1583 and the twins Judith and Hamnet in 1585 (as recorded).

Till the 1590’s he had achieved prominence in London in his professional career that spanned about 20 years as a dramatist, an actor, a poet and a playwright. He wrote many plays, poems and especially his 154 sonnets that were published in 1609. In 1599, Shakespeare’s company built a theater for themselves across the river in London and named it The Globe. Many of his plays were performed in court as well as for royalty including Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. His plays were performed in many towns, at the Inns of Court, at universities, etc. Unfortunately in 1613 during the performance of Henry VIII the Globe caught fire and burned to the ground. According to the epitaph carved under his burst in the Holy Trinity Church, he died in Stratford on 23 April 1616 and was buried on April 25. He is now also known as “The Bard of Avon”.

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

– William Shakespeare

photo of black ceramic male profile statue under grey sky during daytime
Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

18 plays were published during the time span of Shakespeare’s life and individually they came to be known as the quartos. Then 7 years after Shakespeare’s death his collected plays were published in the form of one book known as Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies which is now known as the First Folio.

Here’s a list of some of Shakespeare’s most well-known artworks including plays and poems:

  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Hamlet
  • As You Like It
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Macbeth
  • A Midsummer’s Night Dream
  • Othello
  • The Tempest
  • King Henry VI
  • Julius Caesar
  • Twelfth Night
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Love’s Labor’s Lost
  • Richard II
  • The Two Noble Kinsmen
  • Henry V
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • All’s Well That Ends Well
  • King Lear
  • Measure for Measure
  • The Winter’s Tale
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Richard III
  • Coriolanus
  • Venus and Adonis (poem)
  • The Rape of Lucrece (poem)

Now back to the play Much Ado About Nothing which is a romantic comedy. The main plot or the synopsis of the play is basically that Count Claudio falls in love with Hero the daughter of Leonato who is the Governor of Messina. Count Claudio is in service to the Prince of Aragon, Don Pedro. Anyways Claudio and Hero decide to get married but the villain who is Don John, the brother of Don Pedro decides to stop the marriage by a vicious plan which is carried out by his follower, Borachio. On the other hand there is this hatred between Signor Benedick and Beatrice who is the niece of Leonato but eventually they end up falling in love due to a strategic plan devised by Don Pedro and they decide to marry one another. This was a very brief explanation of the whole play.

20180814_174643.jpg

Here are the main characters in the play:

  • Leonato, The Governor of Messina
  • Hero, the daughter of Leonato
  • Beatrice, the niece of Leonato
  • Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon
  • Count Claudio, a young lord from Florence
  • Signor Benedick, a gentleman from Padua
  • Don John, Don Pedro’s brother
  • Borachio, Don John’s follower
  • Conrade, Don John’s follower
  • Dogberry, Master Constable in Messina

In fact, Much Ado About Nothing has also had many screen adaptations most famous of which was the 1993 film by Kenneth Branagh which I did watch and it is a great movie but not as good as the written play itself. There is also another film that was released in 2013 by Joss Whedon.

My Review and Experience Regarding The Play

The synopsis of the play was a little intricate and might even be confusing for some people who are not fans of Shakespeare’s works but when time, effort and concentration is put in the play it can be understood and when it is understood the astounding realisation of its beauty is just absorbed in every brain cell. I mean the plot is so cautiously written that when every puzzle piece fits into place, the big alluring picture comes into the mind and for that one moment you can’t help but wonder the intensity and the charm of the plot. It is pretty mind-blowing. It’s like fireworks in your head every time you read a line, you apprehend the unfathomable depth, the exquisite vocabulary and of course the endless humour.

The one thing that actually flabbergasted me was the irony of the two main stories going on in the plot. Basically there are two love stories in the play, one of Count Claudio and Hero and the other is of Signor Benedick and Beatrice. You see the irony is between these two love stories. Count Claudio and Hero actually love each other from the depth of their hearts and souls but they end up with an impediment and a riot in their relationship however on the other hand, Benedick and Beatrice are sworn enemies who are always fighting against one another by their endless wit but they both end up falling in love with each other. You see, one couple is being distanced and the other is being drawn to one another. When you realize the irony, it actually blows you off with surprise.

Each character in the play is created with depth and each one of them is eccentric from the other in their own individual way. Nonetheless the characters go together with one another in a great flow and they ingrain such an aesthetic energy into your mind and soul. Especially I love the characters Benedick and Beatrice, the fact how far apart they seem to be from each other but how close they actually are in actuality. Their relationship is one that is legendary and humorous but still it’s quite realistic how two souls are bound to one another by a similarity that was formerly their only difference, which is their endless wit. In fact these two are one of my favorite literature couples and Beatrice as an individual character has been added to my list of favorite literary characters.

Beatrice has such a variant character in Shakespeare’s play that if we consider the time period during which it was written, this character just astounds you. Her character was very relatable for me because the moment I read her dialogues I knew that she was me in words. I mean this character has taken me to the depths of my own psychologies and my own perceptions that I can’t thank her enough. Everything from her infinite wit to her brutally truthful words, everything astounds you that you reach a point where you can only accept her as one of the greatest characters in the literary world.

20180814_174959

Another tenet that I appreciate about the book is that great depth and profundity is given to the villain, Don John and the art of his villainy that you can’t help but fall in love with the villain in fact I also do like him. The veil of profound iniquity that lies upon him can’t help but charm you in a way that you can’t resist his artful words of wickedness. It is like his art of impropriety gives you your life force for his energy his irresistible.

The words themselves are sagacious and sage, full of wit for there is wit in the humour as well. The whole play is wisely written with words of sagacity, of relativity and of aestheticism. The vocabulary is profound and you will definitely have to carry a pocket dictionary with you at all times but you might also need a bigger dictionary or a bigger source for there are some words that might not be in a pocket dictionary because the vocabulary is pretty wide. Regardless it will improve your vocabulary like every book or written manuscript does.

The plot generally sounds and seems pretty serious but it is made humorous with the help of amazing character construction and development. For example characters like Dogberry and his assistant Verges, Benedick and Beatrice, they add humor to the play and its plot and makes the heaviness of it light to the touch of the readers’ shoulders, mind and soul. At the same time the plot might also seem a little cliché to people but first of all, it is, second of all we can’t forget that this was written in the end of the 16th Century and it is currently the 21st Century so it might seem cliché to us but the characters, the words and the unfathomable depth makes it an eccentric piece of art that needs to be experienced and cherished by everyone.

The play is not that long and it won’t take you a lot of time to read it if your analytic powers are strong but nonetheless it will take you some time to read it because don’t forget that it is a Shakespearean play so the stakes are pretty high. The plot is also quite thrilling and exciting and you can’t seem to wonder after every act and scene, what is going to happen next and the excitement just adds to the humour and everything works so well together that after you’re done you actually look forward to reading more of Shakespeare’s artworks. Honestly for me, it was one of the best artworks that I’ve stumbled across in my journey of books.

My Favourite Lines From the Play

Here are a few lines from the play Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare that have stayed with me:

(P.S. All of these quotes/lines ARE from Much Ado About Nothing and they are written by William Shakespeare, I was just too lazy to write it besides every line.)

  • “I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.”
  • “Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.”
  • “He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man. He that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him.”
  • “When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.”
  • “There was a star danced, and under that was I born.”
  • “I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue.”
  • “I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.”
  • “Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.”
  • “Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
    Beatrice: Is it possible disdain should die while she hath
    such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick?”
  • “LEONATO: Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.
    BEATRICE: Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I’ll none: Adam’s sons are my brethren; and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.”
  • “For man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.”
  • “LEONATO: Well, then, go you into hell?
    BEATRICE: No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet me, like an old cuckold, with horns on his head, and say ‘Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven; here’s no place for you maids:’ so deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter for the heavens; he shows me where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the day is long.”
  • “If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking. In the meantime, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.”

“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,

Men were deceivers ever,

One foot in sea and one on shore,

To one thing constant never.

Then sigh not so, but let them go,

And you be blithe and bonny,

Converting all your sounds of woe

Into Hey, nonny nonny.

Sigh no more ditties, sing no mo,

Of dumps so dull and heavy.

The fraud of men was ever so,

Since summer first was leavy.

Then sigh not so, but let them go,

And you be blithe and bonny,

Converting all your sounds of woe

Into Hey, nonny nonny.”

A song by Balthasar in Much Ado About Nothing written by William Shakespeare

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s