Much Ado About Nothing. Looking back at Act I. FRIENDS Benedick, Claudio and Don Pedro seem to be good friends. They have after all, just fought together against Don John. Make a large outline drawing of your character and inside it write: Your status in relation to your two friends
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Benedick, Claudio and Don Pedro seem to be good friends. They have after all, just fought together against Don John.
Make a large outline drawing of your character and inside it write:
FRIENDS, COUSINS, LOVERS & HATERS
Characters in Shakespearean comedy often behave like figures in a dance, forming patterns of relationships which dissolve and re-form as the play progresses. Act I is concerned with young people (Claudio, Benedick, Hero & Beatrice) and the seriously enjoyable matters of friendship, falling in love and getting married.
Create Double Bubble Maps showing the patterns of relationships forming between these four characters.
BENEDICK’S IDEAL WOMAN
Benedick discusses the feminine virtues he is immune to and the qualities which might tempt him if they were all to be found in one woman.
Write a list of the qualities you seek in an ideal partner. Then incorporate your list into a speech which uses word patterns similar to Benedick’s (e.g. ‘another is … yet I am well’, ‘wise or I’ll …’).
In groups of 4 share your ideas and then write a combined version to present to the class.
Look back through Act II and choose three or four lines that appeal to you.
In a group share your lines and then present your version of this act to the class using some or all of your favourite lines.
malapropism = the ludicrous misuse of words, especially through confusion caused by resemblance in sound.
Nearly everyone in the play finds it hard to distinguish appearance from reality. The drunken Borachio has just seen how a rich villain (DJ) can simply buy the ‘truth’ he wants. Now he ponders on the behaviour of young aristocrats of the day, giddily seeking the latest fashions.
“What a deformed thief this fashion is”
This remark is said twice and echoed a third time, so we are meant to “note” it. Elizabethan fashions with their padding and strange shapes certainly ‘deformed’ the human figure. But what other meanings might this remark have?
E.g. what has fashion or costume ‘stolen’ from Hero and Benedick?
The Watchman is completely confused. What does he think Borachio is talking about?
Tease the melancholy lovers
Claudio and Don Pedro enjoy teasing Benedick the lover about his ‘toothache’. Likewise, Margaret enjoys herself with jokes at the expense of the ‘sick’ Beatrice.
In Greek legend, Hero was the true love of Leander who drowned whilst swimming across the Hellespont to meet her. She in turn drowned herself for love of him. In Shakespeare’s time, the name Hero would have suggested faithfulness in love.
Beatrice trusts Hero and knows with all her heart that Hero is innocent. Other characters desperately attempt to now the truth by judging or ‘noting’ the outward signs. Leonato and Friar Francis are two such people.
Outward signs and inner truths
Many characters try to judge inner truth by outward signs. Leonato, Don Pedro, Claudio and the Friar have all ‘noted’ different things about the lady. Leonato ‘notes’ Claudio’s tears (4:1), which he interprets as a sign of the young man’s sincerity. Dogberry lists all the outward signs of his own dignity and wealth (4:2).
Create a T-Chart headed “truth” and “signs” and list all the examples you can think of.
In Shakespeare’s plays the pronouns ‘Thou/ thee/ thine’ and ‘you/ your’ send clear social signals.
When addressing one person ‘you’ implies distance. ‘Thou’ can imply closeness or superiority. It can signal friendship to an equal or superiority over a servant. Used to address one of a higher rank, it can be aggressive and insulting.
Rewrite Act 5 as a mini-saga (tell the story in exactly 50 words)
Act 5 contains many changes of mood: grief, despair, anger, vengeance, repentance, love, mockery, celebration.
Show where these changes in mood occur.
The play has THREE major dramatic plots or stories (the Hero/ Claudio love story, the tricking into love of Beatrice and Benedick, the Don John plot which is discovered by the Watch). The close-knit nature of Messina society, where everybody wants to know everybody else’s business, is reflected in the way in which these three plots are so closely interwoven.
On the grid briefly record, scene by scene, each stage in the development of each plot and the names of the characters involved in the action.
Qs to help:
Tricks, hoaxes & deceptions
Compile a list of the malevolent and benevolent plots, deliberate and accidental deceptions.
Nothing and noting, truth and illusion:
The pun on ‘nothing’ and ‘noting’ in the title suggests from the start that the play will be concerned with ways in which people perceive one another. Characters are continually faced with the question: ‘Can I be certain that what I see, or hear, or know is true?’ their difficulties are often caused by the deliberate deceptions of others, but equally often stem from self-deception or their own human fallibility.
‘Men were deceivers ever’
Is this painting (inspired by Much Ado About Nothing) Hero and Claudio OR Beatrice and Benedick? Explain your choice.
Many Elizabethans still held to the old belief that there were four humours (or fluids) in the human body. They gave rise to four basic types of personality, depending on which humour was predominant:
cold, gloomy, depressed (melancholic)
angry, quarrelsome, violent (choleric)
cool, sluggish, apathetic (phlegmatic)
warm, hopeful, confident (sanguine)
Assign each character in the play their most appropriate humour
Beatrice probably anticipated that the wedding would be a difficult time for her. She had been ‘exceeding ill’ that morning and faced the prospect of her first meeting with Benedick since learning of his love for her. However, she could not have foreseen the shocks in store for her.