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Much Ado About Nothing

In a literature research paper on Much Ado About Nothing, the plot device of physical disguise is restricted.  Don Pedro woos Hero at the masquerade for Claudio.  However, Don John discovers the plan and attempts to ruin it for all involved.  In the research paper, the student can reveal that the play can be seen more as a series of emotional disguises, as several of the characters are not what they appear to be.  Much Ado About NothingDon John, most famously, is a stock villain whose evil comes solely out of being the bad guy in the play. 

His mask is that of a loving brother.  Benedick and Beatrice’s romance is set up by their friends, as each falls in love largely on the overheard (false) conversations of others.  Benedick and Beatrice fall in love with the other because they fear their reputations should they not.

Shakespeare sets up the comedic elements in two ways.  First is the initial encounter between Benedick and Beatrice at the ball.  She accuses him of being one of the Duke’s jesters.  “I am sure he is in the fleet: I would he had boarded me” (Act II, Scene I).  Note the crude pun that continues to have sexual overtones; a line that appeals to the groundling in us all.  Secondly, each of the lovers courts under false impressions.  Shakespeare uses the twin ideas of destined love and personality conflicts to string out the comedic romances.  Being that this is one of Shakespearean comedy, true love will win out in the end, because lovers are destined to be together.  However, there must be some conflict between the two in order to fill up five acts.  If not physical disguise, then emotional conflict (ala The Taming of the Shrew).

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