Though deception is ever-present in Much Ado About Nothing, the characters never expect it. Deception appears as the tool of villains to spread chaos and unhappiness. However, it’s also a device used by friends to improve each other’s lives in ways that their buddies are too stubborn to do without a bit of trickery to nudge them in the right direction. Everyone from scoundrels to nice daddy’s girls to clergymen use deviousness – so deception doesn’t come with a value judgment, it’s neither absolutely good or absolutely bad. Whether deception is OK or not depends on the intentions of the deceivers – if the intention is to promote happiness, then the deceiver is a good friend, but if the deceiver intends harm, then he’s a nasty jerk. The play is built on the problems caused by deception, but all of the mishaps righted again by more deceptions.
Deception is not to blame for the mishaps in the play. All of the major plots are actually set in motion by the characters’ susceptibility to suggestion. They only see what they want to, and they are no more misled than they allow themselves to be.
Deception is inherently bad. It is used in this play to sometimes bring out positive results, but those outcomes are actually artificial, and easily undone.