11.07.2019 in Literature

Much Ado about Northing

During a period in which Spain was in war with Britain Shakespeare produced a play that placed characters in a state of self reflection, prompting them to change their actions in order to fit within the changing situation. This was a historical period of change from modernism to renaissance. The play is presumed to have been acted between 1599 and 1914. Notably, the setting of the play is in SicilyIsland. The island, despite being close to Italy was under the rule of the Spain but was influenced by the Italian culture. Much ado about northing is a play driven by conspiracy and counterfeiting both of which play negative ad positive roles, signifying that neither is completely evil.

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The story unfolds around characters Don Pedro who was a prince of Spanish background, two deputies; Claudio and Benedick who had come back from a battle they had won. The governor of Messinor invites them for a masked party.  Fortunately, Claudio falls in love with the only daughter of Leonato called Hero. Leonato has a niece called Beatrice who is a long time adversary to Benedick. The conspiracy that dominates among the characters complicates the plot in a manner that creates and mixture of anxiety and surprise (Shakespeare, 15).

Don Claudio desire to marry Hero brings in Don Pedro as the link. Pedro would woo Hero for Claudio. But the adversary between Pedro and his brother makes the brother to tell Claudio that Don Pedro was in a mission to woo Hero for himself. The awakening of Claudio makes him to woo and convince Hero. But Don John hatches a plan to portray Hero as infidel. This would be achieved through a masquerade ball.  Margaret is masked as Hero in Hero’s bedroom with Borachio. Don John places Don Pedro strategically as a spy. This leads to mistaken condemnation of Hero infidelity. After humiliation of Hero in the following day’s wedding, before a congregation, she faints. Unfortunately, Margaret does not defend Hero.

A new conspiracy emerges when the presiding friar urges the family to fake Hero’s death and challenge Claudio for a duel.  The architect of the conspiracy against Hero are apprehended and forced to confess hero’s innocence. A second wedding is organized and Claudio thinking that he is marrying Hero’s causing is astonished to find that the masked bride was Hero (Lamb and Hardy, 37).

Shakespeare cleverly develops the theme of infidelity among the female gender as ground for public shamming. The men seem to doubt that a woman can be faithful and thus Don John sets trap to embarrass the pride of Claudio. Notably, even Hero’s father condemns her without thinking that she could have been falsely accused. This shows the poor treatment of the female gender during the renaissance period.

The second aspect that creates the anxiety in the play is the chain of deception of characters and also self deception. The characters seem to get in love under unclear circumstances. For instance, Don John convinces Claudio that Don Pedro wanted to woo Hero for himself in order to revenge his brother Don Pedro. Significantly, the play revolves around conspiracy motivated by something insignificant. The conspiracy against Hero is intended to hurt Claudio because women respect was only based on virginity during marriage. The infidelity conspiracy is a negative conspiracy intended to shame Hero before her father and the friar. The motif of public shaming strongly exhibited by bitter words pronounced to Hero by her father and Claudio. Claudio calls her a rotten orange that cannot be eaten, while her father Leonato calls her rotten flesh that cannot be preserved. The characters seem to use shame as a tool for revenge. Don John is regarded as illegitimate brother to Don Pedro. Therefore, Don John, by conspiring against Claudio hopes that Pedro would hate Claudio as he did. He was displeased by the favor that Claudio received from Pedro. Notably, the illegitimacy of Don John is based on the background that he is a product of illegitimate sexual union. Thus, he was constantly exposed to social punishment of being reminded that he was illegitimate.

Conspiracy is the sources of the title. The characters conspire against each other because of issues that are insignificant.  For instance, there is no justification for fixing Hero, hurting her in order to revenge Claudio pride. Deception is used as means to an end. Notably, there is both good and bad deception. Bad deception is championed by Don John, which lead to embarrassment of Hero. The deception of Claudio by the friar and Hero’s father can be said as a good deception because it prepares a way for reconciliation and redemption.  Another instance of deception is exhibited by Benedick and Beatrice who are made to think that they love for the other. This leads them to fall in love. This is an indication that deception has its positive side (Rowse and Shakespeare, 45-47).

The plot is made more entertaining by counterfeiting. The parties knows that two characters Benedick and Beatrice love eavesdropping and thus Leonato, Don Pedro and Claudio talk pretending that Beatrice is in serious love with Benedick so that Benedick, while eavesdropping can hear and believe that truly Beatrice loves him. Counterfeiting is further indicated by Claudio during the failed wedding when he paints Hero as a perfect counterfeit of innocence, but beneath quite impure and unchaste.


The play reveals characters in continual confusion and in state of uncertainty as they are forced to change their position to fit in the changing conditions. Conspiracy and counterfeiting influence the decisions and thus make the plot to be characterised by betrayal, fortune and surprises.

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