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Much Ado About Nothing Theme of Maturity

Maturity operates in Much Ado About Nothing as a marker of age and veneration, but also of personal growth. The young characters—Claudio, Benedick, Beatrice, and Hero—are all immature in matters of love, because they have yet to figure out how to deal with it in a way that doesn’t compromise them. 

The older characters, like Leonato and Don Pedro, have the respect that comes with age—they’re wiser in the ways of the world—but they lose out because of their age too. When Claudio refuses to fight Leonato and Antonio, he says it’s because they’re old men without teeth.

Questions About Maturity

  1. Are there any truly emotionally mature characters in the play? Leonato and Don Pedro are the oldest of the main characters, but do they exhibit maturity to fit their years? How do we explain their susceptibility to Don John’s plot, and their harsh unwillingness to believe in Hero’s purity?
  2. Is Hero mature for accepting Claudio’s love in the second round wedding?
  3. Is it fair to characterize Claudio as immature? Are his rash feelings and judgments the result of his youth? Is there hope that he’ll get better, and have more discretion in the future?
  4. Is Beatrice and Benedick’s eventual decision to marry a sign of their maturation? When they were averse to marriage, was it solely because they were immature? Is their growing love for each other linked to their growing maturity? Or were they always in love but too immature to admit it?
  5. Is maturity linked to age in the play? Is maturity wrongfully ascribed to Don Pedro and Leonato because of their age? Is that a reflection of what happens in real life?

Chew on This

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

Maturity is the trait most lacking in all of the play’s characters; their susceptibility to pride and deception, and their inability to think before drawing their conclusions, are more about immaturity than any other quality.

Benedick and Beatrice are immature throughout the play. In the final scene, where they nearly fail to admit their love for each other, they prove that they have not matured at all throughout the course of the play.

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