Deception in Much Ado About Nothing
In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, deception comes into play in three instances. First, Hero, Margaret, and Ursula deceive Beatrice into believing that Benedick absolutely dotes on her.. Next, Don John convinces the easily swayed Claudio that Don Pedro took Hero as his own and planned to marry her. Finally, Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato deceive Benedick by pretending to gossip about how Beatrice is secretly in love with Benedick. Deception comes often in the story, as it does in regular society, and such events occur regularly in the play.
First of all, Hero and her attendants, Margaret and Ursula, convince Beatrice that Benedick loves her passionately through deception. Hero sends Margaret to tell Beatrice that Hero and Ursula speak of Beatrice behind her back and that Beatrice can listen from a concealed area nearby. This, however, falls far from the truth; though Beatrice believes Maragret, they brought Beatrice to them to “bait and hook her” as one would catch a fish. There, while Beatrice hides in the bushes, Hero and Margaret “gossip” about how “Benedick loves Beatrice…entirely” and how Beatrice does not deserve him and that Benedick will never speak of his love because she will surely make fun of him with a callous attitude (and the women will encourage him to get over her). Hero and her attendants did not really believe all their gossip; it had no real truth to it. Benedick never told any of them that he had any feelings for Beatrice whatsoever, and nor did they have any plans to tell him to get over her. Beatrice, however, believed them, perhaps because some gossip about her pride and distain for others had come up in their speech. She shows that she completely believes them by deciding afterwards by deciding to “requite [him]” and that her “kindness shall incite [him]/to bind up [their] love in a holy band.” Perhaps one thing mentioned in the false gossip that had a good degree of truth included Beatrice’s pride; if Beatrice did not believe Benedick loved her, she would never make herself so vulnerable as to claim love for him. That the witty woman known for her insults would plan to woo him with her amazing kindness implies a great believe of Hero’s words indeed. This deception came out of love; Hero wanted Beatrice to fall in love and live a fulfilling life. Some deceptions in the play, however, come out of hatred.
Take, for example, Don John’s story to Claudio about how Don Pedro supposedly stole Hero from Claudio. Don John pretends he believes Claudio is Benedick and tells him things Claudio believed Don John would have told Benedick. Don John, in order to perhaps stir up bitterness and mistrust between Claudio and Don Pedro, as well as cause Claudio sadness, tells him of how Claudio “[is] very near [Don Pedro] in his love: he is enamoured on Hero.” This is far from the truth; Don Pedro courts Hero for Claudio, in the act doing what he said he would do. Don Pedro never falls in love with Hero, and Don John knows it. Don John lies out of hatred for both Claudio and for Don Pedro; he believes they have dragged down his position. He believes that Claudio took his place in rank and in liking of Don Pedro, and he hates them both with fervor. Thus, he does anything and everything he can to try to upset and confuse both of them. Claudio, however, could have ended the nonsense by refusing to believe Don John, who had only recently been welcomed back by Don Pedro after a feud between them. Claudio does believe “[it is] certain so; the prince wooes for himself,” since Claudio answered “in the name of Benedick.” Claudio, a hopelessly naive young man, fails to see the malice in Don John’s words and actions, as he believes that Don John would tell Benedick of such things but not Claudio himself. Also, being one to jump to conclusions, Claudio decides quickly that Don John must be absolutely right about Don Pedro wooing Hero and proceeds to sulk and dramatically proclaim that he has given up Hero, looking “orange” (jealous) through the entire process. Though this deception came from hate, some come from other sources and feelings.
For instance, the deception of Benedick about Beatrice’s supposed love for him related to love and little else. Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato see the obvious connection between Beatrice and Benedick, a connection seemingly broken. The three get together and pretend to gossip about how Beatrice “[is] in love with Signior Benedick” and about how “she is beginning to write to him…twenty times a night,” along with secretly displaying passionate emotions for him. The three men know that she and Benedick have loved each other in the past, (but somehow Benedick hurts Beatrice, ending that relationship), and since both she and he regularly disparage marriage, they think that getting the two of them together again would be both funny and fitting, but their words have little direct truth; though Beatrice may still have feelings for Benedick, she does not write to him and sob about him every night. The deceive Benedick out of love for him, though; they want him to love someone and have a life with that one. Benedick knows of the likelihood that Claudio and Don Pedro, his best friends, might trick him; he “should think [their words] a gull, but that [Leonato] speaks it: knavery cannot, sure, hide itself in such reverence.” This shows that Benedick thinks highly of Leonato and trusts in him. Benedick is not nearly so naïve as Claudio and knows of the possible “counterfeit” of the whole thing, but Leonato, an elderly, gracious host, has gained his trust. Thus comes another consequential deception, one of many in Much Ado About Nothing.
Deception occurs in three situations in Much Ado About Nothing. First, Hero and her ladies-in-waiting deceive Beatrice into believing Benedick loves her passionately. Furthermore, Don John falsely convinces Claudio that Don Pedro stole Hero for himself. Moreover, Claudio, Leonato, and Don Pedro convince Benedick that Beatrice is secretly, desperately in love with him. Shakespeare uses all these deceptions to show the meaning and occurrence of deception in society. Sometimes deception comes out of love, sometimes out of hate, sometimes from other feelings such as fear, sometimes for no tangible reason, and sometimes just because lies seem better than the truth.
- Title: Much Ado About Nothing Essay
- Artist: YourFatalMistake
- Description: This is an essay I had to write for my English class regarding deception in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing; it will probably only make total sense if you've read or watched the play. It's written in Power Writing format, with an intentional lack of passive verbs (there are still a few in there). Please rate and critique - I want to get better grades on my essays.
- Date: 02/19/2009
- Tags: much about nothing essay
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