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Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing


by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing Lies and Deceit Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line) Line numbers correspond to the Riverside edition.

Quote #4

That a woman conceived me, I thank her;
that she brought me up, I likewise give her most
humble thanks. But that I will have a recheat 
winded in my forehead or hang my bugle in an
invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me.
Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust
any, I will do myself the right to trust none. And the
fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a
bachelor. (1.1.234-242)

Benedick says his main obstacle to love is that he’ll never do a lady the disfavor of mistrusting her. At the same time, he’s certain he can’t bring himself to trust a lady, so it looks like he’ll be ladyless. It’s not that he thinks love itself is awful (maybe), but that he finds deception to be inherent to women (and love).

Quote #5

'Tis once, thou lovest,
And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know we shall have reveling tonight.
I will assume thy part in some disguise
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart
And take her hearing prisoner with the force
And strong encounter of my amorous tale. (1.1.313-320)

Don Pedro will manipulate Hero into falling in love with Claudio. It’s a little shady that Don Pedro will get Hero to fall in love with his words, thinking they’re Claudio’s words. Claudio and Don Pedro don’t care if they manipulate the girl under false pretenses, as they’ve got their eyes on the prize of winning her (even if she is deceived into being won by a guy she doesn’t know and has never spoken to).

Quote #6

I wonder that thou, being, as thou say'st thou
art, born under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral
medicine to a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide
what I am. I must be sad when I have cause, and
smile at no man's jests; eat when I have stomach,
and wait for no man's leisure; sleep when I am
drowsy, and tend on no man's business; laugh when
I am merry, and claw no man in his humor. (1.3.10-17)

This is a particular bit of irony—Don John says he’s not really capable of deception. He can’t hide what he’s feeling, or what a villain he is. You’d think this was crazy, because Don John does so much deceiving in the play. 

Come to think of it, he never actually made a great show of being a good or warm guy to begin with. He skulks around the castle, and while he tells direct lies to others in the service of evil, no one could ever say that he tried to pretend to be someone he’s not. In that case, who’s more at fault, Don John for being a trickster, or Don Pedro and Claudio for trusting him? Deception is a complex thing.

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