Often, in theatrical performances, the key component that creates the plot and the play’s storyline is the characters. In many Shakespearean plays, arguably an inspiration for modern theatre, the characters’ relationship creates the plot. In Much Ado About Nothing, the story revolves around two pairs of lovers: Claudio and Hero, Benedict and Beatrice, and their passage to marriage. Benedick and Beatrice share an intimate, conflicting relationship, whereas Hero and Claudio fall in love at first sight.
In the play, Shakespeare uses doubles and pairings to emphasize the importance of the existence of communication between couples, explain how deception is used in various ways to interact with characters and depict and define the style of Shakespeare. With the pairs Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero, the significance of communication between one another is vital. In a play with many deceptive schemes and events happening simultaneously, characters need to be talking to each other and utilize this to reduce confusion and conflicts. For example, Hero and Claudio are infamous in such matters.
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The lack of speech and the initiative to build a stable relationship does not bring them happiness and a sound conclusion but a rather heated feud between the two due to the lack of trust and communication. However, there are pairs, specifically Benedick and Beatrice, which show that communication is actually beneficial for the couple. From the characters Benedick and Beatrice, the readers know that their relationship since their first encounter in the play is not the typical Shakespearean love, where oftentimes, miscommunication backfires and causes tragic happenings. Rather than lacking communication, the two are over-filled with it.
Ever since Beatrice’s first line in the play, the readers know right away that the two know each other enough to take an interest in one’s arrival and even mock each other. When Beatrice says, “I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the wars or no? (I.i.35), the reader will realize that this is a foreshadowing and the two characters are tied as couples. The two characters constantly use words to fight but never seem to conclude. The reason why they do so, unintentionally, is because they have feelings for each other. Through the long dialogues of argument between Benedick and Beatrice, the couple has learned about each other and trusts each other.
This comes to use at the critical moment when Benedick and Beatrice reveal their love for each other. Over time, all the arguments and encounters give birth to a loving relationship that will be hard to break with a simple act of deception. In the play, deception is used to benefit or corrupt pairs. The readers know from going through the general storyline that the play is full of deception. Many of the characters use deception in either positive or negative ways. One example of deception used negatively is by the villain Don John. Don John and his men use deception several times in the play.
The first time is when Don John tries to make Claudio think that Don Pedro, who said he would manipulate Hero into loving Claudio, another beneficial deception, is actually taking the chance to flirt with her himself. This manipulation causes two characters that are friends to turn against each other temporarily. However, this short-lived trickery is not the only deception that Don John performs. Don John and his men performed the major deception when they staged the act of adultery by Hero when only Borachio and Margaret were actually involved. This leads the storyline to the tragic climax of the story and destroys the relationship between Hero and Claudio.
Although deception is used in negative ways, some characters use this to benefit pairs. Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonato do one of the major acts of beneficial deception. In Act 2 Scene 1, Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonato plan not to trick him into loving Beatrice but trick himself into that conclusion. This is an example of beneficial deception because this will actually cause the bitter relationship to become a sweet, loving relationship, which benefits both characters. The same is performed on Beatrice, but instead, Hero and Ursula deceive her.
Finally, Shakespeare utilizes the pairs in the play to reflect on his own style of play. When looked into more in-depth and the pairs are deeply understood, readers will realize that Shakespeare likes to repeat different characters and pairs in many of his plays. A good example of repetition of pairs is Hero and Claudio. This pair is the classical Shakespearean pair that falls in love at first sight. These pairs are seen in other plays like Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrews and many others. Shakespeare incorporates this pair into almost every scenario making this type of love scenario a Shakespearean love story.
Many of the characters are from plays performed before Much Ado About Nothing, like the characters Don John and Don Pedro, who are from King John. Shakespeare used the repetition of these characters to keep the Shakespearean type of theatre, which was loved by many audiences. However, Shakespeare did not only bring back characters to the play. In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare introduces a new pair that was not in the typical Shakespearean play. This pair was Benedick and Beatrice. The two are pairs, but the interesting aspect of these two characters was that they were not the romantic type of couple, unlike Hero and Claudio’s counterparts.
Actually, the two were constantly in arguments, and it was a very combative relationship. Moving away from the typical romance, Shakespeare uses these two characters to start a new love scenario that is later evident in other plays. For example, Brutus and Portia from Julius Caesar represent the quarrelsome couple from Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare can also conclude the story of the two couples in Much Ado About Nothing with one conclusion: the wedding.
In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare uses pairs and doublings to contribute to the play’s theme. He uses pairs to show the importance of the existence of communication in a relationship. He uses cases like Benedick and Beatrice, where communication can actually be beneficial to the growth of the love between couples. He also uses cases like Hero and Claudio and Don John and Don Pedro to depict that the absence of communication between people can actually corrupt a relationship, whether it is a loving or brotherly one. Shakespeare utilizes pairs to explain how deception can actually be good or bad. Finally, Shakespeare uses pairs to reflect his own style of playwriting and how he likes to construct a plot.