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Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing


by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing Theme of Language and Communication

In a play involving so many schemes, language is an important tool (for both good and semi-evil, naturally).

Characters’ feelings and intentions are hidden as often as they are illuminated by their language in Much Ado About Nothing. Total miscommunication—both intentional and unintentional—summons the drama llama, and when a character uses strong language there's a 99% chance that they're lying through their teeth.

But even with everyone lying, most characters tend to take for granted that what others say is actually true... without considering other points of evidence. This, of course, leads to more troubles, and more Shakespearean comedy mayhem.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Does language have a moral dimension? What does it mean that the most honorable characters (Beatrice and Benedick) speak in the most veiled language, while the thoroughly bad Don John speaks straight (if false) throughout the play?
  2. Shakespeare uses Dogberry as a caricature of all the people who aspire to speak above their "station" in life. Is Shakespeare being classist here?
  3. What do you make of the fact that Benedick can speak so wonderfully in his daily life, but writes so badly in his poems to Beatrice? 
  4. What does it mean that Hero and Claudio are constantly silent during their courtship? The two seem to not have a single proper conversation until Claudio denounces Hero on their wedding day. Does this undermine their supposed love for each other? Is it possible to love someone without ever really communicating with them? 

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Language conveys both the station and the intelligence of characters. The quicker a character’s speech, the more thoughtful he or she is.

Communication is less important in this play than miscommunication.

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