Study Guide

Much Ado About Nothing Love

By William Shakespeare


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Ah l'amour.

Love in Much Ado About Nothing is a super-complicated topic. First of all, none of the characters explicitly seek love out—love is always second to something else in this play. Love might be the inadvertent result of hatred, or the incidental fact of marriage. Though the play is about romance, the plot seems to highlight the fact that love is only one of many factors that goes into a love affair. Love often comes with difficulty or complication from outside circumstances (like a scheming villain), but it’s just as often thwarted by lovers themselves.

Questions About Love

  1. How does loyalty in the play work as a kind of love? Which characters are loyal, and to whom?
  2. When Claudio says that he should’ve known friendship wouldn’t be able to stand up to love (when he thinks that Don Pedro has stolen Hero from him), is he projecting his own weak allegiances and inability to love both friends and lovers?
  3. How does love between Beatrice and Benedick compare to love between Hero and Claudio? Are both pairs definitely in love?
  4. What do you make of the fact that after both Beatrice and Benedick hear the false conversations about the other’s love, they’re most struck by their friends’ assertions that they’re too proud? Is Benedick and Beatrice’s love for each other true romantic love, or self-indulgent proof that they can love? Why were both characters so ready to believe that the other was desperately in love with them?
  5. Can love be built on a foundation of mistrust? Can Hero and Claudio’s relationship ever recover from Claudio’s suspicion of Hero? Would Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship change if they knew they had been tricked into being together?

Chew on This

Claudio does not love Hero—his marriage to her is a mere formality, entirely performed in public and orchestrated through third parties.

Love in the play is incidental; the formal duty of marriage is more important.