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Major Themes in 'Much Ado About Nothing'

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Major Themes in 'Much Ado About Nothing'

Shakespeare’s treatment of love in Much Ado About Nothing differs from his other romantic comedies. Sure, it shares the same stagy plot, which finishes with the lovers finally getting back together, but Shakespeare also mocks the conventions of courtly love which was popular at the time.
Although Claudio and Hero’s courtly marriage is central to the plot, their relationship is the least interesting thing in the play. Instead, our attention is drawn to Benedick and Beatrice’s unromantic backbiting – it is this relationship that seems more believable and enduring.
By contrasting these two different types of love, Shakespeare manages to poke fun at the conventions of courtly, romantic love. Claudio uses highly contrived language when speaking of love, which is undermined by Benedick and Beatrice’s banter: “Can the world buy such a Jewel?” says Claudio of Hero. “My dear Lady disdain! Are you yet living?” says Benedick of Beatrice.
As an audience, we are supposed to share Benedick’s frustration with Claudio’s transparent, pompous rhetoric of love: “He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier … His words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes.”
As the title suggests, there is a lot of fuss over very little in the play – after all, if Claudio wasn’t so impetuous, Don John’s rather weak plan wouldn’t have worked at all! What makes the plot so intricate is the use of deception throughout.
The most obvious example is when Don John falsely slanders Hero for his own mischief, which is countered by the Friar’s deception of pretending Hero is dead. The manipulation of Hero from both sides renders her a passive character throughout the play – she does very little and only becomes an interesting character through the other character’s deceptions.
Deception is also...

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