Incoherent Notes on Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing seems preoccupied with inconstancy or deceit. Disdain is suddenly transformed into love, men and women’s marital unfaithfulness is often mentioned, and masks (which may be taken on or off suddenly) or disguises are also involved in the play’s plot.

Benedick, the ever changing, is convinced to love Beatrice once he learns of her  supposed love for him. And Beatrice, the constant, is convinced to love Benedick once she learns of his supposed love for her.  Both of them discontinue in their long-held war, and instead become fast friends (with a few squabbles here and there). Deceit is used by their friends to get both of them to like each other.

Balthasar’s song, especially the line “Men were deceivers ever,” speaks of this  prominent theme. The villain, Don John, also uses false appearances to hide his deceit and fickle attachment to his brother.

And at the play’s end, who should be taking off a mask, but Beatrice. This mask could be symbolic of the way that both she and Benedick had been fooled about the other, they were both wearing masks which hid their true character, in a sense, from each other.

And Leonarto draws attention to the fact that men are often inconstant in that they give advice, but rarely follow it. In his speech to Antonio, he states “‘Tis all men’s office to speak patience/ To those that wring under the load of sorrow,/But no man’s virtue nor sufficiency/ To be so moral when he shall endure/ The like himself.”

And Benedick, at the play’s end, summarizes: “For man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.”

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