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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 #10

There's little of the melancholy element in
her, my lord. She is never sad but when she sleeps,
and not ever sad then, for I have heard my daughter
say she hath often dreamt of unhappiness and
waked herself with laughing. (2.1.335-339)

Here, Beatrice might be practicing self-deception. She knows there’s a lot to be miserable about in the world, but it’s easier to laugh than to cry at things you have no control over. This sleeping self-deception casts some light on Beatrice’s ability to be happy in the waking world, even though she might reasonably be sad that she’s so alone.

Quote #11

I will teach you how to humor your
cousin, that she shall fall in love with Benedick.—
 and I, with your two helps, will so practice on
Benedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his
queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice.
If we can do this, Cupid is no longer an archer; his
glory shall be ours, for we are the only love gods. Go
in with me, and I will tell you my drift. (2.1.371-378)

Don Pedro and Claudio engage in some deception, but rather than tricking him into loving Beatrice, most likely they intend to manipulate Benedick into coming to a conclusion on his own. They can lie, but they can’t assume their lies will persuade: only what’s latent in Benedick can bring him to love Beatrice. Their deception is just helping that process along.

Quote #12

Our talk must only be of Benedick.
When I do name him, let it be thy part
To praise him more than ever man did merit.
My talk to thee must be how Benedick
Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter
Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by hearsay. (3.1.18-24)

When Hero employs the same process as Don Pedro and Claudio, she frames what’s really going on. They’re definitely deceiving Beatrice about Benedick’s supposed condition, but they’re arguably only guilty of planting hearsay (rumor). They only mean to let suspicion and hearsay lead Beatrice to the conclusion that she probably would’ve come to anyway. Maybe.

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