Much Ado About Nothing
Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.
Plot Type : Comedy
Much Ado About Nothing doesn’t fall into the traditional rubric of comedies as set up by Mr. Booker – instead, Much Ado blends two types of comedies with its two plots.
One type of Booker’s comedy involves a dark character that ends up causing problems for everybody. This could well describe Don John’s involvement in the main plot of Hero and Claudio. However, Don John is not a deep or powerful enough villain to really make the whole play fall into this category – Don John doesn’t impact every action in the play, and the play’s main conflict is more driven by Claudio’s hatred that is provoked by Don John’s deception, than Don John’s deception itself.
The other category of comedy defined in Booker’s rubric that captures the action in Much Ado About Nothing is the misunderstanding trope. In this model, there’s no actual villain trying to sabotage everything. Rather, the characters are plagued by misunderstandings or some hidden truth that needs to be revealed before there can be a resolution. This situation sums up the problem with Beatrice and Benedick – they hate each other, and need to realize that their mutual hatred is actually mutual love.
So, the two major plots in Much Ado About Nothing follow different threads. Hero and Claudio have their love thwarted by Don John. He tried to foil their love once (by suggesting to Claudio that Don Pedro was wooing Hero for himself) and then succeeds in destroying their (first) wedding by creating a fake scene of Hero’s disloyalty. Ultimately, Don John disappears as quietly as he appeared. Once his treachery is revealed, Hero’s name is cleared, Claudio realizes his error, and Hero and Claudio are free to come together again for a happy union.
By contrast, Beatrice and Benedick have no villain sabotaging them. They’re initially kept apart by their mutual hatred, they’re encouraged to get together by the manipulation of others, and finally they admit that they love each other. The last test of their love is that Benedick and Beatrice have to admit to everyone that they’ve fallen victim to love. The last complication occurs in public when they nearly pretend their love was only brotherly-sisterly, until Claudio and Hero reveal the couple’s mutual love letters. Once the cat’s out of the bag, they’re brought together happily, in spite of themselves.