Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy by William Shakespeare which was written between 1598 and 1599.  The play was included in the First Folio, published in 1623. 
Shakespeare adapted the love-affair of Claudio and Hero from one of the Novelle by Matteo Bandello of Mantua, published in 1554, but the witty wooing of Beatrice and Benedick is original.

Much Ado About Nothing is generally considered one of Shakespeare's best comedies, because it combines elements of lightness and laughter with more serious meditations on honor, shame  and deception, and because its characters and intrigues are so engaging. Like As You Like It and Twelfth Night, it is a blissful comedy that ends with multiple marriages and no deaths. 
Here you can find the full text of the play.

The title of the comedy is a multiple pun. In Elizabethan times “nothing” was pronounced “noting”, and “noting” had numerous meanings. It could mean to take notice of something, to eavesdrop, to observe, or to write something down. “Nothing” was also slang for the female sexual organs, so calling a play Much Ado About Nothing could be a way of advertising a saucy romantic comedy. 

Much Ado About Nothing is set in Messina, a port on the island of Sicily, which is next to the toe of Italy. Sicily was ruled by Aragon at the time the play was set.  The action of the play takes place mainly at the home and on the grounds of Leonato's Estate.
The play chronicles two pairs of lovers: Benedick and Beatrice (the main couple), and Claudio and Hero (the secondary couple). At the beginning of the play, Benedick and Beatrice are engaged in a very "merry war"; they are both very humorous and declare their disdain of love and their dislike of one another. In contrast, Claudio and Hero are sweet young people who are rendered nearly speechless by their love for one another. Although the young lovers Hero and Claudio provide much of the impetus for the plot, the courtship between the wittier, wiser lovers Benedick and Beatrice is what makes Much Ado About Nothing so memorable. Benedick and Beatrice argue with enjoyable wit, and Shakespeare develops their journey from antagonism to sincere love and affection with psychological subtlety and a rich sense of humor and compassion.
By means of "nothing" (which sounds the same as "noting," and which is gossip, rumour, and overhearing), Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into rejecting Hero at the altar on the mistaken belief that she has been unfaithful. In the end, Benedick and Beatrice join forces to set things right, and the others join in a dance celebrating the marriages of the two couples.  Here you can read a more detailed plot analysis.

Here you will find useful materials to revise the play. 

Here are some videos of Shakespeare’s timeless comedy, directed by Josie Rourke.  In  this West End version of Much Ado About Nothing  David Tennant and Catherine Tate appear together on stage for the first time. 

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