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Much Ado About Nothing Theme of Pride

Pride is everywhere in Much Ado About Nothing—not because any of the characters suffer from pridefulness, but mostly because characters are made susceptible when their pride is wounded. 

Pride is damaged and preyed upon more often than it’s inflated in this play. Both Beatrice and Benedick are inspired to love each other when they’re accused of being too prideful to do so. Claudio and Leonato both suffer wounded pride when Hero is thought to be disloyal, and ultimately Claudio tries to rescue his pride by defaming of Hero. Though pride is not often an explicit motivation or end for any of the characters, it’s a powerful force that influences their actions and feelings.

Questions About Pride

  1. Are Beatrice and Benedick in fact prideful, or just afraid of love? How does their sudden love for each other fit in with their own wounded pride?
  2. Why doesn’t Hero defend her innocence more passionately at her wedding? Is she too proud to stoop to fighting off the accusations?
  3. Claudio doesn’t seem to have a broken heart after his failed wedding. He’s not even really sad that Hero has died. If he’s not really in love with Hero, what is it that upset him about her supposed disloyalty? Is it just that his pride was wounded? Why did he make the whole scandal so public?
  4. What makes Leonato react so strongly against Hero after Claudio has denounced her? Where is the turning point from defending his child to believing the accusation? From his speech after the failed wedding, do we get the sense that he’s disappointed in Hero, or that he’s lashing out because he’s been publicly humiliated?

Chew on This

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

Claudio chooses to publicly humiliate Hero to restore his pride, which was publicly wounded by her apparent disloyalty.

While none of the characters ever explicitly say that they are acting for their own pride’s sake, all rash actions and over-the-top feelings can be explained by wounded pride.

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