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Much Ado About Nothing

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In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare includes two quite different stories of romantic love. Hero and Claudio fall in love almost at first sight, but an outsider, Don John, strikes out at their happiness. Beatrice and Benedick are kept apart by pride and mutual antagonism until others decide to play Cupid.

246 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1598

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About the author

William Shakespeare

27.8k books42.3k followers
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. Scholars believe that he died on his fifty-second birthday, coinciding with St George’s Day.

At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's.

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians hero-worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are consistently performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

According to historians, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets throughout the span of his life. Shakespeare's writing average was 1.5 plays a year since he first started writing in 1589. There have been plays and sonnets attributed to Shakespeare that were not authentically written by the great master of language and literature.

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Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
July 22, 2016
Much Ado About Nothing, abridged.

CLAUDIO: So, um, Hero, I sorta maybe like you a whole lot will you go to the prom with me?

HERO: We should get married! Squeeeeeee!

BEATRICE: Pfft. Love is for stupid losers who are stupid.

BENEDICK: You know, you might get laid more often if you weren’t such a cynical bitch all the time.

BEATRICE: Fuck you.

BENEDICK: Get in line, sugartits.

*audience is beaten over the head by sexual tension*

DON PEDRO: Hey everybody, I had a great idea! Let’s make Beatrice and Benedick fall in love!


PRINCE JOHN: So, I think I’m going to break up Claudio and Hero.

BORACHIO: Really? That’s your dastardly scheme? How do we possibly benefit from that?

PRINCE JOHN: No, see, I don’t like Claudio because my half-brother likes him, and I hate my half brother, so…wait. Okay, so it’s actually a really pointless plan that only serves to create conflict. But it’s the only way I get any good scenes in this thing, so MISCHIEF AHOY!


BEATRICE: Hey Benedick, you still suck donkey balls.

BENEDICK: I fart in your general direction! Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!

BEATRICE: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper!

PRINCE JOHN: So guess what Claudio? Your woman totally cheated on you. I saw, I was there.


DON PEDRO: Despite the fact that he’s a bastard in all senses of the word and has no reason to be helping me or my friends, I think we should believe John without proof or even asking Hero’s side of the story.

CLAUDIO: Hero, you’re a shameless whore and I hate your stupid face!


PRIEST: Great job, now Hero’s dead from sad.


HERO: Pysche! I’m really okay!

BEATRICE: Luckily THIS time the priest’s idea to fake a girl’s death to solve all her problems actually worked, instead of backfiring horribly.

BENEDICK: Hey, that’s pretty funny. You know, I guess you’re not that bad. I think I love you, and stuff.

BEATRICE: Yeah, I guess I kind of love you too.

ANTONIO: Close enough. Now off to kill Prince John!


Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews42 followers
October 23, 2021
‎Much Ado About Nothing : a comedy, William‬ ‎Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy by William Shakespeare thought to have been written in 1598 and 1599, as Shakespeare was approaching the middle of his career.

The play was included in the First Folio, published in 1623. By means of "noting" (which, in Shakespeare's day, sounded similar to "nothing" as in the play's title, and which means gossip, rumour, and overhearing), Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into rejecting Hero at the altar on the erroneous belief that she has been unfaithful.

At the end, Benedick and Beatrice join forces to set things right, and the others join in a dance celebrating the marriages of the two couples.

Characters: A boy, Hero, Ursula, Antonio, Don Pedro, Beatrice, Claudio, Benedick, Don John, Leonato, Dogberry, Friar Francis, Verges, Magaret, Balthazar, Borachio, Conrade, A Sexton, The Watch, Innogen

Abstract: The action is set in Sicily, where Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, has recently defeated his half-brother, the bastard Don John, in a military engagement. Apparently reconciled, they return to the capital, Messina, as guests of the Governor, Leonato.

There Count Claudio, a young nobleman serving in Don Pedro's army, falls in love with Hero, Leonato's daughter, whom Don Pedro woos on his behalf.

The play's central plot shows how Don John maliciously deceives Claudio into believing that Hero has taken a lover on the eve of her marriage, causing Claudio to repudiate her publicly, at the altar.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهارم ماه ژانویه سال 1972میلادی

‏عنوان: ه‍ی‍اه‍وی‌ ب‍س‍ی‍ار ب‍رای‌ ه‍ی‍چ‌، ک‍م‍دی‌ در دو ب‍خ‍ش‌؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ ت‍رج‍م‍ه‌ و ت‍ن‍ظی‍م‌ ع‍ب‍دال‍ح‍س‍ی‍ن‌ ن‍وش‍ی‍ن‌، نشر ک‍ت‍اب‍خ‍ان‍ه‌ ای‍ران‌، سال1329، در128ص‌؛ موضوع نمایشنامه های نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 16م

يادداشت: ب‍ا ت‍رج‍م‍ه‌ خانم «ف‍ری‍ده‌ م‍ه‍دوی‌ دام‍غ‍ان‍ی‌» نیز ت‍وس‍ط ان‍ت‍ش‍ارات‌ ت‍ی‍ر، در س‍ال‌1378 و در114ص. چ‍اپ‌ ش‍ده‌ اس‍ت‌

دون پدرو، شاهزاده ی خوشنام، و حاکم «آراگون»، پس از درگیری‌های تقریباً بدون خونریزی، با برادرخوانده‌ اش «دون ژوآن»، همراه او به «مسینا» می‌آید، تا چند روزی را میهمان عالیجناب «لئوناتو»، حکمران آن دوک نشین ساحلی باشند...؛

این نمایش در پنج پرده تدوین شده، و دارای شانزده شخصیت، و تعدادی سیاهی لشکر است؛

شخصیت‌های اصلی نمایشنامه عبارت اند از: «دون پدرو: شاهزاده خوش مشرب آراگون»؛ «دون ژوآن: برادر ساکت، شوم، فتنه انگیز و حرام زاده ی دون پدرو»؛ «لئوناتو: ریش سفید جمع، فرماندار مسینا»؛ «کلودیو: رجل اعیانزاده فلورانسی، مسیو عشق، در خدمت دون پدرو»؛ «هِرو: دختر ریزنقش لئوناتو، همنام هِرو دختر زئوس پادشاه خدایان آتن»؛ «بندیک»؛ «بئاتریس»؛ «بوراکیو»؛ «کنراد»؛ «مارگارت»؛ «اورسولا»؛ «داگبری»؛ «ورجس»؛ «آنتونیو»؛ «بالتازار»؛ «کشیش فرانسیس»؛ «مستخدمان»، «قاصدان»، «خادم کلیسا»، «قبرکن»، «نگهبانان»؛

نقل از متن: (پرده اوّل: صحنه اوّل: مقابل خانه لئوناتو؛ «لئوناتو، هیرو، بئاتریس، و دیگران به همراه پیکی وارد می شوند.»؛ لِئوناتو «با نامه ای در دست»: از این نامه، خبر یافته ام که دُن پدرو از سرزمین آراگون، امشب به مِسینا وارد میشود؛
پیک: او به اینجا نزدیک گشته، آن هنگام که ترکش گفتم، بیش از سه فرسخ با این مکان، فاصله نداشت؛
لِئوناتو: چند نجیب زاده در این نبرد از دست دادید؟
پیک: تعداد کمی انسان لایق، که هیچیک از خاندان سرشناس نبودند
لِئوناتو: لذّت پیروزی آن هنگام شدّت میگیرد که فاتح با تمام سربازانش باز میگردد؛ میبینم که دُن پدرو، افتخار زیادی به جوانی از اهالی فلورانس به نام کلودیو مبذول داشته است
پیک: که البته حقّ او بود! و به همان اندازه نیز با سخاوت هرچه تمامتر از سوی دُن پدرو به او اعطاء شد؛ کلودیو بیش از قابلیتهای سنّش رزمید؛ در لباس برّه، چون شیری ژیان عمل کرد؛ به راستی که بیش از انتظاراتی که از او میرفت، و من به بازگو کردن آن قادر نیستم، به نحوی شایسته رفتار کرد
لِئوناتو: او عمویی در مِسینا دارد که از این بابت، بسیار خشنود خواهد شد
پیک: من از حالا، نامه هایی به او تحویل داده ام و به نظر میرسید که غرق در شادی گشت! آنچنان که شادی، تواضع و افتادگی خویش را از یاد ببرد، و شکل و حالت اندوه پیدا کرد
لِئوناتو: آیا شروع به گریستن نمود؟
پیک: در حّدی زیاد!؛
لِئوناتو: احتمالاً ابراز احساساتی ملایم که از محبّتی درونی حکایت دارد؛ هیچ چهره ای حقیقیتر از چهره ای که اینگونه شسته میشود وجود ندارد؛ چه نیک است گریستن از شادی تا شاد شدن از گریه ها
بئاتریس «رو به سوی پیک»: پوزش میطلبم، آیا سینیور مُنتانیو از جنگ بازگشته است یا نه...؟
پیک: چنین نامی نشنیده ام، بانوی من؛ در سپاهیان ما، هیچکس چنین نامی ندارد
لِئوناتو: درباره چه کسی پرسیدی خواهرزاده؟
هیرو: منظور دخترعمّه ام، سینیور بندیک از اهالی پادوا است
پیک: آه! او نیز بازگشته و چون همیشه، خوشرو است
بئاتریس: او در همین مِسینا، اعلامیه اش را به دیوار کوبید و کوپید را به مبارزه تیر و کمان طلبید: دلقلک دایی ام که از این دعوت به مبارزه اطّلاع مییافت، به طرفداری از کوپید برخاست و به نیابت از او پاسخ گفت و او را در پرتاب منجنیق به مبارزه طلبید؛ امّا به من بگویید ببینم: او در طول این جنگ، چند تعداد انسان کشت و خورد؟ امّا نخست به من بگویید چند نفر را به هلاکت رساند؟ زیرا من قول داده بودم که تمام «شکارهایش» را بخورم
لِئوناتو: آرام بگیر خواهرزاده! به راستی که سینیور بندیک را بی اندازه متّهم میکنی؛ امّا شک ندارم که به زودی به دیدارتان خواهد آمد و پاسخی به تو خواهد داد)؛ پایان نثل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 06/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 30/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Anne.
4,056 reviews69.5k followers
January 19, 2022
Hey nonny, nonny! <--whatever that means, William.


This is one that I've read before but I thought it would be cool to listen to the full cast audiobook.
Definitely worth it.
Just rewatched the 1993 movie, which is also worth it, but for a different reason.
Keanu Reeves + Shakespeare = Unintentionally Hilarious!


Alright. This is one of those stories that hold up, stands the test of time, and is still generally enjoyable. And it's from the late 1500s early 1600s, right?
Now I know I can occasionally come across as an uneducated peasant who doesn't like classic literature. But the truth is that (while I am an uneducated peasant) it's just that I don't like boring classic literature.


This wasn't boring.
It was funny and weird and crazy and a whole lotta sexist.
Basically, top-notch entertainment...16th-century style.


So the gist is that there are two couples, Hero & Claudio (loving on each other) and Beatrice & Benedick (hate-loving on each other), who need a little help from their friends when it comes to making it down the aisle.
Now Hero & Claudio are the obvious cutsie couple. <--because true love!
But Beatrice & Benedick are the ones that everyone is really rooting for because instead of mooning over each other with gross puppy-dog eyes, they're hissing and spitting and wishing for itchy STDs to overtake their respective nemesis.
They're the fun couple!


But it's Claudo who asks for Hero's hand in marriage. Well, technically, it's Don Pedro who wears a mask and asks for Hero's hand in marriage for Claudio. There's really no explanation for that, except as a plot device to show that Don Jon likes to lie and cause trouble. He rather easily convinces a rather stupid Claudio that Don Pedro has stolen Hero for himself. <--pay attention because this becomes a pattern of behavior that nobody seems to notice when it counts.


It quickly works itself out, mostly because Claudio believes anything that comes out of anyone's mouth to be 100% truth. But fortunately for him, Don Pedro was actually securing Hero's love and her father's permission.
Let's Party!
But first. Let's try and get Beatrice and Benedick to fall in love.
They obviously hate each other, so it'll be really funny, guys!


The gals fake a loud conversation within earshot of Beatrice that revolves around Benedick's passionate love for her, and the guys fake an equally loud conversation near Benedick that informs him of how heartsick she is over him.
And we all know there's a fine line between love and hate, so...


Hilarity ensues as these two clumsily flap around trying to figure out their feelings, ultimately deciding that they must have been in love all along.
Let the wooing commence!


The end, right?!
Well, no.
Of course, none of the rest of this story would be possible if Don Pedro's douchebag brother Don Jon wasn't a cackling villain hell-bent on villainy for the sake of villain-ing.
Sooo evil...


And how does he accomplish his goal?
By faking the loss of Hero's virginity! Because nothing is more important than an intact maidenhead on your wedding day. Oh, I know they say true love conquers all, but not even Claudio's true love for Hero can survive Don Jon's poorly lit peep show, complete with a woman who kinda-sorta resembles his lady love.
I mean, who wouldn't believe that?! <--Claudio certainly can't be blamed for jumping the gun, amirite?
But at least he didn't overreact.


Ok, and maybe this kind of horrible treatment makes you hope that Hero tells Claudio to go fuck himself once it's proven that she's still a blushing maiden.


But I do think Willy was trying to do a good thing by pointing out how easy it would be for someone without scruples to ruin a woman back in the day. So. It's something.
Then there's a convoluted we'll pretend she's dead! that'll show him! plot to make Claudio realize he's an ass, which made me realize RomComs really haven't progressed much in the past 500 years. It's the classic misunderstanding that breaks up the happy couple trope. Which is kind of amazing when you think about it. 500 years!
If it ain't broke don't fix it. <--another classic line from Shakespeare.
Shhh. Trust me.


Joking aside, I've always thought Beatrice's If I were a man, I'd kill him speech was in equal parts awesome and sad. Sad that she thought she couldn't (stab him with the pointy end, girl!), and awesome that it showed the level of rage that accompanied the frustration of feeling impotent because of your sex.


Benedick wisely sides with Beatrice & agrees to kill Claudio. Nothing comes of this other than to let the audience know that Benedick knows which side his bread is buttered on.
But before anything Romeo & Julietish can happen, a sheriff with special needs accidentally uncovers Don Jon's nefarious plot, and Hero is forgiven for being accused of slutty behavior.
BUT not before Hero's dad makes Claudio marry Hero's cousin, who no one has seen up until now AND who looks a helluva lot like Hero, as punishment for maligning his baby girl.
*wink, wink*
Keep in mind Hero's father, Leonato, initially believed Claudio's accusation and told his daughter he wished she were dead. Because you'd rather have a dead daughter than one who had been willingly defiled.


Pish-posh, I say!
Everything works out in the end, as everyone hugs it out and gets their Happily Ever After.


This is by far my favorite play by Shakespeare. I mean, the guy has had a few hits over the years but this one makes me smile the most. If you get a chance to listen to the full cast audiobook, do it.
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.9k followers
March 20, 2020

I don't think Much Ado ranks with Shakespeare's very best for three reasons: 1) the plot is weak, particularly the deception that moves things along during the first act (why does Don Pedro choose to woo by proxy en masque? What is to be gained by it except delay and confusion?), 2) Dogberry and Verges are second-rate clowns, and 3) Claudio, in his readiness to believe ill of Hero, is too unsympathetic a lover for a non-problem comedy. On the other hand, whenever Beatrice and Benedict are sparring--which is much of the play--Much Ado is equal to anything Shakespeare had written up to this point.

At last he has learned how to take the euphuistic preciousness of Love's Labor's Lost's dialogue, preserve all its wit and courtly delicacy and combine it in casual, idiomatic speech full of character, naturalness and humor. Later in the play, when the plot turns serious and Beatrice demands of Benedick Claudio's death, both she and Benedick embark on a journey toward growing wisdom and deeper love that makes the ending of the play very moving as well as formally complete.
Profile Image for Kelly.
154 reviews12 followers
August 11, 2007
Let's face it, there aren't too many of Shakespeare's females who kick ass. Yes, we all can name the four or five that don't quite suck (Kat, Portia, Viola, Emilia, etc) but good strong feminine characters were not, it seems, the bard's strong suit. So as you wade through the whiny, conniving, helpless throngs of man worshipping wenches that appear in nearly all Shakespeare plays, it can be tempting to just give up looking for redemption. But alas, it is this lack of strong feminine voice that makes the discovery of a truly awesome character like Much Ado About Nothing 's Beatrice that much more thrilling. Beatrice is without a doubt my favorite of all Shakespeare's women. She is smart, sardonic, and fierce. And while many chide her for her decision to marry, a decision that some argue nullifies any feminist credit she may have accumulated throughout the play, I take issue with the idea that a woman must choose between love and identity. How sad to think that to be a strong woman, one must live her life utterly alone so as not to let a man infringe on her sense of self. Married or not, Beatrice definitely meets my requirements for a kick ass female!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,093 reviews17.7k followers
July 29, 2019
here I am reviewing this play exactly 420 years since it came out.... it's what Beatrice and Benedick would've wanted

So... the thing is. This is, in all honesty, the play that got me into Shakespeare. I saw that Kenneth Branagh / Emma Thompson movie of it when I was maybe eight years old and I loved it so much (although I will point out that no adaptation has really understood the vibe of these characters so well as the David Tennant / Catherine Tate edition), and so that's why you can hate on this play for making me so obnoxious all the time. I am, however, still particularly obnoxious about this specific play. This is a Shakespearean comedy that essentially has the central message "respecting women is the only true way to be a romantic hero" and also is still hysterically funny and also contains Unbearable Tenderness™️ and for that, we have to stan.

“O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace” is absolutely one of the most fucking hardcore lines in any Shakespeare play and had more impact on me than the entire Star Wars franchise. It's a line that is powerful because it feels out of place: it is shockingly violent, impossible not to deliver with a snarl — quite literally — and perhaps most importantly, it is an uncriticized line said by a woman in a play written in 1598.

Everything Beatrice says in this play Fucks. Beatrice invented feminism and made me the dyke I am today. At one point Beatrice accuses Benedick of having lost four of his five brain cells which, hilariously, means that Shakespeare was the original creator of the last brain cell meme. The plotline of this play is just Beatrice roasting everyone around her especially Benedick and it's wonderful. Must movies be good is it not enough to see Beatrice roasting everyone in the dark, huge.

The other plotline of this play is that misogyny is awful and ruins your life.

I'm not kidding. From this one Much Ado About Nothing analysis I think about a lot:
Don John is not the true villain of this play; he is merely an agent. The real villain of Much Ado About Nothing is the culture of misogyny in Messina.
This play begins and ends with the men assuming their wives are about to sleep around on them. Leonato jokes about his own wife doing so; Claudio allows this assumption to cloud his judgement; even Benedick jokes to this effect. So as soon as any implication of Hero's infidelity is made, rather than ask or confront or find alibis, Claudio assumes the worst: that she has slept with another man the night before their wedding. The captain of the guard agrees with him; her father, when he hears this, goes along with it as well.

Benedick is the only male character in the play, including Hero's literal father, who defends Hero in any way from the false accusations. The romantic lead to Beatrice, a character who we have earlier seen making misogyny-tinged jokes to get a rise out of her, is the only man who believes a woman.
But from that same analysis:
...“Kill Claudio” [is] less a demand that Benedick murder his friend and more a plea that he break with the toxic culture of male camaraderie. And Benedick agrees. In the midst of a play saturated with jokes about women’s volubility and defined by the rejection of a supposedly unfaithful woman, he then makes the monumental decision to trust Beatrice. He listens to her when she grieves and finally asks her a single question: “Think you, in your soul that Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?” When she replies in the affirmative, her word is all the proof he needs to part with the prince and challenge his best friend.

Benedick's relevance as a romantic hero is proven narratively by the fact that he believes Hero when she says she hasn't been unfaithful, and believes Beatrice. He sees the wrong that has been done to the women around him and he steps away from it.

So, can we talk about tenderness? It's time to talk about tenderness.

First of all, Beatrice and Benedick's relationship is absolutely the ultimate romantic comedy and other romantic comedies can't fucking compare:

➽the first line that Beatrice says to Benedick is, not even joking, “I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick, nobody marks you”
➽he's like “why Beatrice I thought you'd be dead by now”
➽Beatrice gets her revenge by calling Benedick a dull court jester in disguise
➽I mean if any girl ever roasted me that hard I too would risk it all
➽everyone in the show is like “wow they keep roasting each other you know what's a good idea? make them think the other one is in love with them”
➽of course this works
➽they each hide very badly as other people talk around them and if your show does not play with the physical comedy of this it is weak and will not survive the winter
➽seriously. one time i saw one where Benedick hid behind a plant and kept walking around. Catherine Tate dangled from a hook and David Tennant got flour all over his superman tshirt for this
➽they get Benedick first and then Beatrice shows up to invite him to dinner and is like “i've come against my will to summon you to dinner” and he's like “there's a double meaning in that”
➽you think I'm joking but no act two scene three line 260 fucking says hi

And that's just the comedy part I haven't even started talking about tenderness yet!
And Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,

This line, from Beatrice's not-quite soliloquy after hearing Benedick is in love with her, is so fucking gorgeous and I think about it all the time and I can't even quite explain why, but the notion of telling someone to keep loving you because you plan to requite it immediately? Tender.
I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?

ladies, imagine this: it's the 1590s and your cousin's fiance accuses her of infidelity at the altar. everyone, including her father, abandons her, except for your crush who you hated until one (1) day ago. he tries to protect your cousin and then also professes his love to you. you ask said crush, who happens to be the fiance's best friend, to challenge him. he knows she didn't deserve that and he loves you and so he does so, as well as resigning from the famous soldier's company he's a part of, and then he writes a love sonnet to you and also shaves his beard and also plans a marriage proposal
Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.


I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes—and moreover, I will go with thee to thy uncle's.

Like this line is objectively really funny because Beatrice is just talking about going with Benedick to have a conversation with her uncle and he’s. being an overdramatic bitch again. and also it's partially a sex joke. but the other thing is that. this line is so unbearably tender. imagine you ask someone to go with you to your uncle’s and they seriously tell you not only do they want to do that but they also want to die in your lap and be buried in your eyes, sort of in a joking tone but also completely meaning it. i cant think about that too long or ill absolutely go insane

They literally fall in love based on a practical joke. but they genuinely love each other because they respect each other. and each other's wit. the romantic heroine keeps threatening men with death and the the romantic hero drinks respecting women juice and also thinks being insulted is hot. Romeo and Juliet could never. god i want LOVE.

YES, my love for this play is partly to do with my deep nostalgia. No, I do not care. 

And yes, the ending to the Claudio storyline is expected — Winter's Tale and All's Well That End's Well say hi, they want their plots back — but I think this play genuinely had something very important to say, something that is arguably still relevant. And it's also so wonderfully romantic. Every time I think about this play I kind of want to cry.

If you would like to go feral for 3 hours straight I would like to direct you to the David Tennant / Catherine Tate version of this show, available free for your viewing pleasure on Youtube! This show is absolutely wonderful at all times but I think this particular version is fairly accessible even to those with no Shakespeare knowledge. Highlights include:
➽Benedick riding in on a golf cart
➽the fact that during the disguised-at-the-party scene Beatrice is wearing a suit and Benedick is wearing a jean skirt, women's shirt, and tights
➽that scene in which Benedick is laughing at his friends for playing music and starts sarcastically doing pirrouettes
➽the ensuing scene in which he accidentally sticks his hand in flour but then is so shook by someone actually liking him that he rubs it all over his face and shirt and somehow makes it look natural
➽that part where Benedick drinks alcohol using a crazy straw
➽the entire xylophone joke
➽the scene in which they confess their love and they both start laughing really hard and dancing around the room and it's really funny but also so fucking tender. i havent stopped thinking about how much i love that

I love this play. This is my all-time favorite play and I care so much. I'm so glad it's still as good as I remembered.

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Profile Image for Henry Avila.
468 reviews3,253 followers
January 31, 2020
Don Pedro Prince of Aragon in Spain, is coming to Messina the capital of Sicily, for a little R&R just having defeated his treacherous half- brother in battle, (with few casualties, nobody important) Don John (the "Bastard") they are now reconciled again ! His army needs it Rest and Relaxation, the governor of that city is his good longtime friend Leonato. The time is unstated but Aragon, ruled that island in the 15th century. Count Claudio who gained glory in battle in the Prince's army and a favorite of his royal boss meets "Hero", lovely daughter of Leonato. No need to say they fall madly in love and are soon engaged. Claudio best friend is Benedick another noble soldier, Hero has a cousin named Beatrice, the other two don't love each other quite the reverse. The sharp tongued with wit Beatrice, is known for causing her suitors to quietly go into the night meekly, dejectedly and afraid. The battle of words between these people (Beatrice and Benedick) are electrifying, put downs name calling venomous insults anything goes, they fly like trailers in a tornado. Don John hates his half- brother Don Pedro, is jealous of his power and position, will always try to embarrass him if he can't usurp the Prince... So Don John, his men Borachio and Conrade conspire to wreck the marriage of Don Pedro's friend Claudio. The Prince's brother is a petty man and arranges with Don Pedro, Claudio and himself to view the apparent infidelity of Hero, the three secretly watching below her window at night, with the recognized Borachio in plain sight, but is the daughter of Leonato there ? All is ruined, the distraught Claudio breaks the engagement at the altar with angry accusations, Hero faints dead away. Her father Leonato and his brother Antonio are humiliated, shamed and later on very enraged, these ancient gentlemen want revenge family honor demands it . But what can they do ? In another strange turn of events, with the help of the Prince and a masquerade ball Beatrice and Benedick, unknowingly dance together , soon after start to really like each other. And the villains Borachio and Conrade, are shortly arrested by the night watchmen of the city overhearing them talking about some interesting secrets, information that is vital to many people. Brought to their leaders Dogberry, the chief and his deputy Verges, both speak a kind of language that only they can understand, their words mean exactly the opposite of what is said, Dogberry says to his men about the criminals, "Come, take away the plaintiffs" and "Don't you suspect my office ? ". The clownish kindhearted old men, have seen better days, will these friends be able to find out the crimes of Don John, before it is too late? Shakespeare the greatest writer who ever lived, has another superb play, one of many in his illustrious and unequaled career....
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
July 11, 2012
I am probably the last person in the whole history of the world to get it, but, just in case there's someone else left, it occurred to me yesterday that the title of this play had to be a rude pun. Five minutes on Google was enough to confirm my suspicions. From this page:
In Shakespeare's time "nothing" was a euphemism for a woman's naughty bits. This gave the title three different yet equally appropriate meanings, as the main conflict over the play revolves around the false implication of Hero losing her virginity to another man while engaged to Claudio. Therefore it is "Much Ado about Nothing" as nothing was really going on, "Much Ado about Noting" as it's concerned with the views the characters have of each others' moral fiber (how they "note" each other), and "Much Ado about Nothing" as it was concerned with Hero's own naughty bits/her virginity.
The Terry Pratchett quote at the top is also rather fine:
Mind you, the Elizabethans had so many words for the female genitals that it is quite hard to speak a sentence of modern English without inadvertently mentioning at least three of them.
With the help of a good online Shakespearian dictionary, I have been carrying out some experiments, and I'm afraid he's right. I have decided to remain mute for the rest of the morning to be on the safe side.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
August 21, 2018
Much Ado about Nothing, written in 1598, interweaves the story of two couples. The more interesting and definitely more amusing one is Benedick and Beatrice, who apparently have a rocky romance in their past history.


But now they devote all of their energy in their interactions to insulting each other as wittily as possible, each trying to one-up the other.


Beatrice wins most of the time.

The other romance is between Claudio, a count and military friend of Benedick's, and Beatrice's cousin Hero, a wealthy heiress.


Claudio comes home from war, takes a look at Hero and all of her huge ... tracts of land (actually they’re her father’s, but will be Hero’s at some point), decides he's in love, makes sure she's her father's only child and heir - and then lets his commander, the Prince of Aragon, Don Pedro, propose to Hero on his behalf. It's an odd thing, but then most of Hero's and Claudio's relationship plays out in an oddly public manner. So when Don Pedro's jealous and mean-spirited brother, Don John, decides to torpedo their romance, just because, it goes south in an equally public way.

But meanwhile all of Beatrice and Benedick's friends have decided that the war of wits between them is hiding deeper feelings, and in one of the funnier plot developments, decide to trick both of them into thinking the other loves them but will never speak of it because they're too hard-hearted. When things go horribly off the rails between Hero and Claudio, Benedick has a choice to make: his old world of his male buddies or his newly discovered love for Beatrice.

There's a lot of humor in this play, much of it very risqué if you know Elizabethan idioms. But as is typical of Shakespeare, about half of it went over my head, except where I took the time to read the explanatory footnotes in my Riverside Shakespeare volume (one of those books that I would want on my hypothetical desert island if I were stuck there alone for years). Dogberry the constable, who inadvertently discovers the plot against Hero but doesn't quite know what to do about it, is one of the highlights, with his constant use of the wrong-but-almost-right word, delightfully and obliviously butchering the English language.

Deception is a running theme: Don John's deception of Claudio and Don Pedro, everyone's deception of Benedick and Beatrice, Hero's father's deception of Claudio and Don Pedro at the end, even Benedick and Beatrice hiding their true feelings.

I highly recommend the delightful 1993 film version of this play, starring the wonderful Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson at their best, as well as Denzel Washington as Don Pedro, Michael Keaton as the hapless Dogberry, Keanu Reeves as the evil Don John, Robert Sean Leonard as Claudio, and a lovely young Kate Beckinsale as Hero, in her film debut.
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,746 reviews601 followers
November 12, 2022
Step aside, Romeo and Juliet! Make room for Master Shakespeare's most amusing and hottest couple!

("Beatrice and Benedick," by Hughes Merle)

I wasn't expecting this to be so good as it turned out. The Bard is a better dramatist than comedian from what I've read of his work so far, and his comedic plots tend to be borderline silly, which is the point, it being comedy after all. But whatever one thinks of his humorous plays, one thing is undeniable: the man can write beautifully! His command of language is astonishing--no wonder he put so many words in the dictionary--and he plays with words and phrases with such ease as if he'd been born to create language, his puns have layers of irony that escaped me at first, and I've had to reread each Scene and Act twice over, which I never do, just to grasp the full meaning of everything. In fact, I was reading two editions at the same time, the Arden annotated one and Signet, and from this experience I recommend you read the annotated one, there are parts that have subtler nuances quite worth learning about!

The plot has the vintage Shakespeare storytelling: two handsome noblemen arrive to Messina with the entourage of Prince Pedro of Aragon on a visit to Leonato of Sicily, and there they fall for the governor's daughter and niece respectively, Hero and Beatrice. But whilst Claudio is quick to admit his infatuation and express his desire to marry the beautiful Hero, his bosom friend Benedick is adamantly against both love and marriage despite the obvious sexual tension between him and Beatrice.

Don Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Benedick. With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord, not with love. Prove that ever I lose more blood with love than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a ballad maker’s pen and hang me up at the door of a brothel house for the sign of blind Cupid.
Don Pedro. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.
Benedick. If I do, hang me in a bottle° like a cat and shoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder and called Adam.

The object of his funnily contradictory affection is equally opposed to love and marriage, and wastes no chance to get back at Benedick. Even before he appears on the stage, she's already called him a fractious swordfighter ("Mountanto"), a womaniser ("challenged Cupid to the flight"), a glutton ("he's a valiant trencherman"), unmanly ("And a good soldier to a lady"), a dummy ("he's no less than a stuffed man"), and incapable of besting a woman ("four of his five wits went halting off"), and so much more within just one short first scene. And when they finally met, sparks fly and the banter is sublime, the best I've read in a comedy or otherwise!

Benedick. What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?
Beatrice. Is it possible Disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to Disdain if you come in her presence.
Benedick. Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies,° only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for truly I love none.
Beatrice. A dear happiness to women! They would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humor for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.

The sexual tension between them is so off the charts, and some of the phrases are so blindingly bawdy that I am left amazed and wondering, "How did good old Will get away with publishing that?"

Becoming weary of this incessant barbed exchange of pleasantries and recognising the attraction both are so industriously denying, the people round them decide to take the bull by the horns and, led by well-intentioned meddler Prince Pedro, decide to contrive a plan to get them to admit to their feelings. Divided in two teams, the males arrange for "casually" talking within Benedick's earshot so he "accidentally" overhears them discuss how Beatrice is sick with love for Benedick, and the females arrange to do the same within Beatrice's earshot, letting her know that Benedick is a hair-breadth away from dying from lovesickness.

The hilarious result can be guessed at, both lovers are trapped into believing the farce and start to behave better towards the other, mindful of not hurting the other's feelings. Thankfully, though, the banter continues as piquant as ever.

Then disaster strikes when Don Juan, the rotten illegitimate brother of Prince Pedro, tells lies that lead to the break-up of Hero and Claudio.

Humiliated by the public rejection and scorn of her betrothed, Hero is left for dead, and would have had not the priest that was going to marry her come up with a plan reminiscent of the one in "Romeo and Juliet": fake the bride's death.

It doesn't go horribly wrong as in Juliet's case, thank the blind god, and it leads to Claudio eventually realising his mistake and righting it. In solving the mystery of how Hero was wronged, a new creation of Shakespeare shines through in its absurdly comic incompetence: Constable Dogberry, who has this tendency to use the wrong word for the right meaning, like "opinioned" for pinioned, "dissembly" for assembly, "suspect" for respect. And in the middle of this tragicomic episode, Benedick finally says the verboten words upon seeing Beatrice bawling her eyes out at her cousin's disgrace and offering to champion the lady's honour:

Benedick. Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.
Beatrice. Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her!
Benedick. Is there any way to show such friendship?
Beatrice. A very even way, but no such friend.
Benedick. May a man do it?
Beatrice. It is a man’s office, but not yours.
Benedick. I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?

But before him and Claudio can duel, things are solved in typical Shakespearean fashion, with the reappearance of the "dead" damsel. And the two couples are married, and I assume live happily bantering ever after.

I've always found it easy to grasp Shakespeare's language, and I never had read annotated versions of any of his plays before, this is my first time looking at the endnotes, and I confess that this contributed to the very sexy feel of the play to me. I hope others will also grab such an edition for more enjoyment of the delightful wordplay. Oh, and the inclusion of a kiss also surprised me greatly. I had a good chuckle imagining how it'd look in period Elizabethan theatre, where women couldn't act and female roles had to be taken up by males. Very humorous to think about!
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,118 reviews44.8k followers
July 24, 2017
I saw an absolutely brilliant version of this play today at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. It was Mexican themed, full of dancing, gunshots, high racing emotions and many moments of farcical humour. All in all, it was a great production of an imperfect play.

If I’m ever critical of Shakespeare’s works it’s because I know how excellent Shakespeare can be. The Tempest is one of the best things ever written in the English language. Similarly, Richard II is pure poetry, beautiful and powerful, but it is so unimpressive on the stage. At least, I’ve never seen a decent live version of it. There’s not much room for spectacle in the play. But here’s the tricky thing about Shakespeare, some of his plays are excellent to read and some of them are not. Some are perfect stage pieces, but boring on the page. Some manage to succeed in both realms, but not many. Much Ado About Nothing is a play that is meant to be performed. Like Twelfth Night (and all the comedies) the real genius of the writing does not come through until it is seen in action.

Much Ado About Nothing has a simple plot and it’s built around two central characters, Beatrix and Benedict. Everybody else involved are mere plot devices crafted by Shakespeare. Hero, Claudio and Don Pedro, though playing major parts in the action, don’t really have much in the way of personality or inner-conflict. They are simply there to play off the two central characters against each other, and play each other they most certainly do. A relationship built on mutual hate sounds like an odd concept, but an apt one. Both Beatrix and Benedict have sworn never to marry, so when they finally stumble across their counterparts they are annoyed and in absolute denial about their own feelings.

It’s easy for the audience to spot such a thing, and seeing the characters slowly realise it is wonderful to behold. It leads to many brilliant comedy moments, moments the version I watched was very quick to capitalise on. It was mischievous, witty and a very good piece of fun. The entire cast nailed it. Again, this is a play that really needs to be seen. If you find yourself in London this summer, I certainly recommend going to watch it. If not you could always try the DVD when it is eventually released if you’re really keen.

Profile Image for Baba.
3,616 reviews985 followers
August 17, 2023
So after a rather grim start for me reading Shakespeare, I persevered and picked up a third play - Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare includes two very different stories of romantic love - love at first sight with Hero and Claudio, whose love has to defeat the machinations of Don John; and Beatrice and Benedick's personalities see them keep themselves apart until others decide to try and play Cupid.
Maybe after reading two plays previously I am better understanding the language as in these plays I genuinely was intrigued and wanted to know the outcomes; I also felt more empathy with the characters. A Shakespearean high of 5 out of 12, strong Two Stars for me :)

2006 read
Profile Image for Fionnuala.
791 reviews
August 17, 2019
In the 1906 preface to The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James described the book as ‘an ado about Isabel Archer’. That reference caught my attention, and since I'd never read Shakespeare’s 'Much Ado', and since I love to follow even the vaguest of book trails, I browsed my bookstore’s Shakespeare shelves as soon as I had an opportunity. Like most of you, I’d read some of the plays for study purposes but I’d never bought a Shakespeare play for pleasure. In my innocence, I presumed buying Shakespeare would be a straight-forward business. As it turned out, my bookshop had multiple editions of the plays which was very impressive but left me with a dilemma: which edition to choose. To add to the dilemma, the more I looked at the books, the more I found myself wanting to read 'Measure for Measure' too, and 'The Taming of the Shrew', and 'All’s Well that Ends Well', and 'As You Like It', and more, and more. Perhaps a 'Complete Works' was the way to go, I thought. I took a large volume down from the shelf and immediately looked around for a chair. Just holding it required sitting down, it was so heavy. I couldn't imagine reading it in bed - and the bath was definitely out! The pages were very flimsy too, and the font was tiny. Poor quality print was a problem with single editions as well. I ruled out others because the introduction took up two-thirds of the book. And I was equally disappointed to see that some had so many footnotes, there was scarcely room for Shakespeare’s words - the only thing I wanted to read! I was getting more and more frustrated. Then I realised I was making a bigger fuss about choosing a book than I'd ever done before so I grabbed the least objectionable edition of 'Much Ado about Nothing' and headed for the cash desk.

The plot of 'Much Ado' revolves around a deception which causes temporary misunderstandings and frustrations amongst the main characters. Fortunately, it doesn't take long for the misunderstandings to be resolved and order to be restored. In that sense the play is literally much ado about nothing. But the ‘ado’ nevertheless gives us one of Shakespeare’s most interesting female characters: Beatrice. Beatrice has the wittiest lines and the cleverest insights - especially about marriage and what it means for women. She also has the clearest overall vision of what is happening in the play and may even be seen as the bravest character, ready to defend her cousin Hero’s honour when everyone else, even Hero’s father, immediately believes the lies spread about Hero by the villainous Don John. Beatrice’s bravery is particularly impressive given that the majority of the male characters are soldiers well used to engaging in combat, but they are all made to seem foolish or weak at one time or another. Only Beatrice retains our full respect. I’m tempted to imitate Henry James with his ‘ado about Isabel Archer’ and interpret the play as an ‘ado about Beatrice’. For me, it is all about her, as if Shakespeare used the plot simply as a frame for her speeches. I couldn't get enough of them.


As I was reading and admiring Beatrice’s words and actions, a thought occurred to me. Perhaps there was more to HJ’s reference to an ‘ado’ than I'd previously thought. I began to see parallels between Beatrice and Isabel Archer. Both heroines live in their uncle’s houses, and both are unmarried though no longer in their teens. Somewhat trivial parallels, you might say, but there are more.
When we first meet Beatrice and Isabel, their unconventional manners set them apart immediately. They both have a reputation for being originals. Beatrice is at her best when engaged in a battle of wits. Isabel too enjoys sparring with anyone who will engage her. We soon discover that they each have a strong sense of who they are and a radical dislike of anyone controlling their destiny. But they are not radical just for the sake of it. Isabel is not a reformer like her friend Henrietta Stackpoole, and Beatrice is not as intractable as Kate from 'The Taming of the Shrew'. The two women give priority instead to their own intellectual development and they disdain the pursuit of romantic love. Isabel refuses a marriage proposal from Lord Warburtin, the richest man in her circle. Beatrice refuses Don Pedro, the most powerful man in Messina. When Beatrice says, 'I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me', we can't but be reminded of Isabel who runs the other way whenever there is talk of love. So many parallels.
When I started reading this play, I had no idea I'd find such comparisons. Unfortunately, the final comparison I found is the one that sets the two heroines completely apart: their destiny, the one happy, the other tragic. When Benedick says, “Beatrice is wise but for loving me,” we sadly remember that Isabel too was wise - but for choosing Gilbert Osmond.

The Oxford World's Classics edition I reluctantly bought turned out to be perfect. Lovely cover, quality paper, a clear font and well-spaced lines. However, there were copious notes and a very long introduction. I mostly ignored the notes but read the introduction with pleasure once I'd finished the play. It included a history of the play's production, and engravings and photos of the various actresses who interpreted Beatrice down through the centuries.
And I returned to the bookshop, where, without further ado, I bought Oxford editions of 'Measure for Measure', 'The Taming of the Shrew' and 'Romeo and Juliet', all of which I've since read. I can truly say that I'm finally reading Shakespeare for pleasure. Thank you, Henry.
Profile Image for James.
Author 20 books3,716 followers
September 23, 2017
3 of 5 stars to William Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing. We read this play in my 9th or 10th grade English course as a comparison to his more popular plays such as Macbeth, Othello, Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet, as well as something different from his historical fiction plays about various kings and queens. It was an opportunity to see his brilliance in writing something different and basically... about nothing. Well not really nothing, but you get the drift.

It was a decent play. And I can say that because I've read over 40 of his plays. It's not like I just picked a few up and said "Eh, it's decent," not having read enough to know. It's Shakespeare of course. Everyone loves/hates him, depending basically on whether you like this sort of thing or you do not. And scholars can argue for hours about what it all meant, who really wrote it, what was being hidden in the lines and characters. But for me... this was just a normal play.

Given I tend to like very character-driven stories or complex plots, this one doesn't rank very high on my scale for what I've read. Yes, the plot is fairly low-key... some romance, some issues between couples... it didn't have a tremendous amount of magic for me... say as something like "As You Like It" or "Twelfth Night." Those were memorable characters whom you rooted for despite all odds.

It's very strong in terms of language, innuendo, imagery and balance. But as far as a leisurely and enjoyable read, I didn't take a whole lot from it. Of course, all English majors should read it. But if you want some light re-exposure to Shakespeare, I wouldn't recommend this one as a starting place.

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For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
678 reviews3,945 followers
January 9, 2020
its been 420 years but Benedick and Beatrice are still That Couple actual enemies to lovers excellence

This is probably my favourite Shakespeare play I have seen yet. I read the script while also watching the filmed Globe performance and like .. its genuinely still laugh out loud funny. The Claudio storyline is annoying, but Hero is such a better character than Desdemona who has a similar plot line - Beatrice and Benedick are funny and sweet, and like I love them both.

This deserves a really fun and good modern adaptation honestly
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,000 reviews
July 20, 2022
المكائد والمؤامرات والتَخَفي, مفردات واضحة في مسرحيات شكسبير
ضجة فارغة" مسرحية كوميدية, والحوار فيها لطيف وفكاهي
مؤامرة لمنع زواج اثنين من الأحبة, تنتهي بمعرفة الحقيقة وكشف المتآمرين
بنيديك وبياتريس من أكثر الشخصيات الجذابة في المسرحية
يدور بينهما جدال ساخر ومشاكسات ظريفة تتحول في النهاية لاهتمام وحب
Profile Image for Ted.
515 reviews744 followers
January 22, 2019
Movie review at bottom

This is the most enjoyable play I’ve yet read in my Shakespeare project. Aside from the Elizabethan words that required me to check the footnotes, it had a very modern feel to it. The complicated plot, the good and bad characters, the denouement, the happy ending all reminded me of light comedies that I’ve seen performed on the modern stage.

The play was probably written in 1598. In my Complete Works it has been placed in between Henry IV Part II and Henry V.

The Introduction states that the incident causing Claudio to renounce his love for Hero is a device used, in various forms, “not uncommonly” in the sixteenth century, citing two examples: one version in Spencer’s Faerie Queene (book II, Canto IV), another by Matteo Bandello in an Italian novel published in 1554. The final verdict is that the direct source for Much Ado is “quite likely some play that has now been lost.”

Regardless of where Shakespeare got the general story of Claudio and Hero (who before his version of the play were no doubt the main characters, and even could be so-considered in his version) to this reader they were clearly upstaged by two other characters that are listed below them in the Dramatis Personae: Benedick and Beatrice. Not surprisingly, these characters are entirely of Shakespeare’s own invention (so far as we know), and they provide perhaps the main source of comedy in the play.

Benedick, a young lord of Padua, is introduced as a man who disdains women, and disdains the very idea of marriage. Beatrice, Hero’s cousin, is introduced as a woman who disdains men, and, agreeing in this only with Benedick, disdains the very idea of marriage.

Here’s the first repartee between these two, in the opening scene.
BENE. If Signior Leonato be her (Hero’s) father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is.
BEAT. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick. Nobody marks you.
BENE. What, my dear lady Disdain! Are you yet living?
BEAT. Is it possible Disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if you come in her presence.
BENE. Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted. And I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none.
BEAT. A dear happiness to women. They would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood that I am of your humor for that. I had rather hear my dog barking at a crow than a man swear he loves me.
BENE. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! So some gentleman or other shall ‘scape a predestinate scratched face.
BEAT. Scratching could not make it worse an ‘twere such a face as yours were.
BENE. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
BEAT. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
BENE. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer. But keep your way, ‘I God’s name. I have done.
BEAT. You always end with a jade’s trick. [A jade being a bad-tempered horse]
Are these two ready for prime time? You bet.

Shakespeare then adds considerable dialogue among other members of the cast, completely outside the traditional story, in which other male characters conspire to trick Benedick into thinking that Beatrice loves him; while separately, Hero and her attendants decide they will trick Beatrice into believing Benedick has fallen for her.

The other main source of comedy in the play is Dogberry, a constable who plays an important part in Shakespeare’s resolution of the traditional plot-line. But Dogberry, like many minor characters in his plays, is portrayed as a complete idiot, basically by having him spew out one malapropism after another (in fact “Dogberryism” is another term for malapropism). Here are examples of Dogberry’s Archie Bunker-like mix ups, from his first scene: (III.iii)

Says allegiance when he means treachery
Says desartless when he means deserving
Says senseless when he means sensible
Says comprehend when he means apprehend
Says tolerable when he means intolerable
Says present when he means represent
Says statues when he means statutes

All this, and more, in the space of less than a hundred lines (about half are his) while giving the Watch (a group of responsible citizens who would take turns patrolling the parishes of London at night) their instructions for the evening.

Even when Dogberry manages to say what he means, what he means to say is often exceeding strange. When he is asked by the Watch what they should do if they command a vagrant to “stand”, and he will not: “Why, then take no note of him, but let him go, and presently call the rest of the watch together and thank God you are rid of a knave.”

When he is asked what they should do if a drunkard does not obey them when told to go home: “Why, then let them alone till they are sober. If they make you not then the better answer, you may say they are not the men you took them for.”

And, the Watch asks, when they apprehend a thief, “shall we not lay hands on him?”

Dogberry replies with his own ruthless logic, “Truly, by your office you may, but I think they that touch pitch will be defiled. The most peaceable way for you, if you do take a thief, is to let him show himself what he is and steal out of your company.”

1993 movie

Kenneth Branagh adapted the play for the screen, then produced and directed the movie for BBC Films. Branagh also starred as Benedick. Filming was done at a villa in Tuscany.

Other cast included

Emma Thompson (at that time married to Branagh) as Beatrice
Robert Sean Leonard as Claudio
Kate Beckinsale as Hero
Denzel Washington as Don Pedro
Keanu Reeves as Don John
Michael Keaton as Dogberry

The movie is splendid. Branagh and Thompson are superb in the lead roles, Reeves gives a solid performance as the bad guy, and Michael Keaton is way over the top as the buffoon Dogberry. The language is Shakespearean throughout, with unnoticeable cuts in the dialogue and only slight elision of Elizabethan archaisms. Everything a modern audience could ask for. The music is a wonderful plus in the production, and I found myself laughing out loud inordinately often. I’m at a loss to imagine how Shakespeare’s play could have been produced on film more enjoyably. 4 stars (out of four) from me.

Here’s the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYj-2...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Previous review: Genius in Disguise Harold Ross of the New Yorker
Next review: The Sound and the Fury
Older review: The Girl Who Played with Fire

Previous library review: The Life and Death of King John
Next library review: As You Like It
Profile Image for Agnieszka.
258 reviews932 followers
August 1, 2017

Not much a review as some disjointed impressions from one of my favourite Shakespeare's comedies. Much ado about nothing is a display of wit and humour, from squabbles and cutting retorts between Beatrice and Benedick to the unrepeatable, full of malapropisms and nonsenses, humor presented by the the chief of the citizen-police in Messina, Dogberry and his bumbling sidekicks.

In short: prince of Aragon, Don Pedro after defeating his half-brother Don John returns home, and surrounded by his court and companions, including Benedick and Claudio, visits governer of Messina, Leonato to stay at his houshold. There are some intrigues here. The first, evil one, that had to put Leonato’s daughter Hero in disgrace and make her fiancé to dump her at the altar. The other one is the sweet intrigue really, and it’s aimed at Leonato’s niece Beatrice and Prince’s companion Benedick. Since they seem not to see love even if they look at its face they apparently need a little help here.

And crème de la crème, our night constables in persons of Dogberry and Verges. They strike us as incompetent twits and helpless losers but let’s not leap into conclusion too fast. Here's the sample of Dogberry's flowery style:

Marry, sir, they have committed false report;
moreover, they have spoken untruths;
secondarily, they are slanders;
sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady;
thirdly, they have verified unjust things;
and, to conclude, they are lying knaves

Also, Dogberry is a man who in his own words would not hang a dog ..., much more a man who hath any honesty in him. So, now you know with whom you have an honour.

This is a comedy though there was only one step from falling into tragedy. If only diabolic plan of prince's brother would have scored then Hero maliciously accused and spurned by her soon-to-be-husband Claudio, could easily be another from wide range of Shakespearean hapless heroines. Story between Hero and Claudio is picturesque yet a bit melodramatic but it doesn’t constitute the main frame of the play. They both are young and naïve, and cute but it’s not them who have my interest here.

My attention is focused on other pair, Lady Disdain and Signiore Mountanto like they call themselves. Or just Beatrice and Benedick. They are older and more sophisticated than Hero and Claudio, more watchful and guarded thus less prone to admit they are head over heels in love. They seem to have a history between them, definitely have a feeling for themselves but constantly are deceiving themselves in believing not such a thing is even possible. They’re too afraid of rejection and being object of ridicule so they prefer to pretend that they hate each other guts and constantly challenge their witticism. I liked the chemistry between them, I liked the banter, the bickering. I liked them squabbling, I liked sharp tongue of Beatrice and bluster and buffoonery from Benedick’s part.

Even their love vows have un undertone of their previous verbal skirmishes.

Benedick: A miracle! here's our own hands against our hearts. Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take thee for pity.

Beatrice: I would not deny you; but, by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion; and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption.

Beatrice is such a wonderful character. She herself deserves an individual review. She's smart and feisty, independent and despite ( or apart ) her sharp wit she has a loving heart. I loved her unbending loyalty toward Hero, especially when the latter was really in deep water. I applauded her passionate O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace directed towards treacherous evildoer. Did I mention she's beautiful? Apparently not but Benedick did when he confessed that she exceeds her (Hero) as much in beauty as the first of May doth the last of December.

After watching movie adaptation of Much ado about nothing every time I return to that play I always see Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh as Beatrice and Benedick.

And special props to Dogberry for saving the day, despite apparent lack of skills and being, well ass, what officially what stated ( though not written down) on his own demand.

O that he were here to write me
down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an
ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not
that I am an ass

And since this is a comedy thus all's well that ends well, though it's just another story, and the final scene just vibrates with celebration of love and affirmation of life. So, sigh no more my ladies. Men were deceivers ever...
Profile Image for Jason.
137 reviews2,345 followers
October 26, 2013
What happened was, I hadn’t been paying close attention to my Netflix queue, and when Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing was released, I quickly flicked it to the top of the queue (like I do all new releases) without remembering that I had wanted to save it for when I actually read the play. (I was also saving Kenneth Branagh’s for the same occasion.) Then the red envelope arrived and I couldn’t let it sit there forever and I’m certainly not going to waste a few days sending it back unwatched, so what is a fella to do other than to actually read the play?

And what a play it is! Ostensibly about a guy named Claudio falling hot and heavy for a girl named Hero and a bastard villain who tries to thwart their romantic plans for no discernible gain (seriously, find me someone who can explain Don John’s motives here), this play is really about Beatrice and Benedick. Because as it turns out, Claudio is merely a puss-puss who has offered no contribution whatsoever to the Space Race. And people like that should never command one’s respect.

Beatrice and Benedick, on the other hand, are pretty great, and this being a Shakespearean comedy, they happen to be pretty funny, too. Especially Beatrice. A master of wordplay and sarcasm, her insults are delivered with a stinging precision and the deftness of a ninja. Halfway through the play, her comedic match is met when we are introduced to Dogberry, whose humor is a little more...unintended? Yet it is nothing short of hilarious.

This play probably has some deeper themes trying to elbow their way out—Beatrice is presumably an early model of feminism in literature and I am sure that angle could be explored more deeply—but this worked well enough for me as a breezy romantic comedy, and I look forward to seeing what Whedon does with it. Wow, did I just call Shakespeare breezy? I am such a puss-puss!

Oh, and Branagh’s adaptation has been subsequently moved up in the queue, as well, and should already be waiting for me at home. It will be a Shakespeare movie weekend! (In between Red Sox games.)
Profile Image for Brian.
707 reviews355 followers
February 11, 2020
“I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?”

"Much Ado About Nothing" is one of Shakespeare's perennial crowd-pleasers and pops up in performance all the time in classical theatre companies. The reason is simple; it is a fun and witty play. It has some of the best verbal wordplay in all of Shakespeare, and it boasts the only middle aged lovers in all of the Bard's work, the lovely Beatrice and Benedick. This pair of former lovers bicker and snipe at each other with such intensity that the physical and emotional attraction is blatantly obvious from their first moment together on the page / stage. The text alludes to the fact that these two have a past, and there is some hurt there. But Shakespeare allows them to navigate past that, and we get to see it.
One of the reasons that I keep returning to "Much Ado" is because of how deftly Shakespeare handles the leading characters' pride and reluctance to take the dangerous leap into love. It especially resonates in our time when more and more middle aged people find themselves divorced and single. How does one take that risk again, often under the same emotional circumstances as Beatrice and Benedick? When these two finally put aside their pride and open up to each other, it is as touching and lovely a moment as any in Shakespeare.
Once again, as with so many of Shakespeare's best comedies, the characterizations are key to the enjoyment of this text. Bedsides the two leads we get the malaprop prone constable Dogberry, who accidentally keeps the plot from becoming a tragedy, and the subtle characterization of Don Pedro the prince. There is more to this character than one gets at first glance, and the close reader will be rewarded by paying attention to Don Pedro's wooing of Hero for his underling Claudio. Shakespeare adds in layers there that are interesting to ruminate on.

The new RSC Modern Library editions of the plays of Shakespeare are a quality trade paperback edition of the works of the Bard. “Much Ado About Nothing” contains a unique Introduction by Jonathan Bate. It is unique in its emphasis on the secondary character of Hero. I had not read an essay that gave her such focus before.
This edition includes an essay on the performance history of the piece, and interviews with directors (Marianne Elliot & Nicholas Hytner) as well as an interview with actress Harriet Walter, who has played Beatrice. Ms. Walker’s interview is insightful because she focuses on Beatrice’s humanity, not on giving “intellectual” answers. It will be of special interest to those who enjoy exploring the multitude of interpretations Shakespeare lends itself to. The Modern Library edition also includes a scene-by-scene analysis, which can help point out an image or symbol you might have missed. The edition also includes a nice “Further Readings” list specifically for this play.
Frankly, all of the extra essays allow you to dive into the world of the play, and it is all included in one text.
The RSC Modern Library editions are a nice new trade paperback with worthwhile extras. They are a good addition to the editions of Shakespeare out there. These and the Pelican Shakespeare are my two favorites.
Profile Image for Alex.
1,419 reviews4,482 followers
August 12, 2018
The most important thing to know about this play is that "nothing" used to be slang for vaginas. No, I know, you're like "This sounds like one of those things that people say because it's funny but then you look it up and it's totally not true," right? But it is true. So. Rather A Pickle About Pussies is what we're talking about here.

The plot of this play, which is called A Bunch of Bother About Beavers, or Very Vexed About Vajayjays, is, oh god, who cares, everyone is confused and then they get married. There's probably cross-dressing involved, when isn't there. (There isn't.)

Ken Branagh's 1993 movie version of Mucho Mess About Muffs is his most successful Shakespeare adaptation. Although you could make a pretty convincing case for Hamlet. Because it's so great, wow, he used every single line? No, it is not so great, it's boring. And in the second half he starts piling on guest stars, right, because he knows it's boring and he's desperate. "Oh fuck, here's Robin Williams, does that help?" Of course it doesn't help. But here's the deep secret of Hamlet: you invite a girl over to watch it. (Or whoever, someone you want to make out with.) They're like oh man, you're so classy, this sounds great, and then they come over and then it's so fucking boring that they literally have no choice but to make out with you. This seriously worked for me twice, which might not sound like all that much but listen: no other thing has ever worked for me twice, including "being in a band" and "having a job," so relatively speaking for me, this is very successful indeed. Anyway, his version of Heaps of Hassle About Hoohas is bright and fun and terrific.

Joss Whedon's 2012 version of Scads of Stress about Snatches, you really want it to be good, right? He's great, and the story on this is he basically threw a house party with all his friends where instead of Cards Against Humanity they played "Film Tons Of Trouble About Twats," and that sounds absolutely definitely like the best house party ever. But someone made the bizarre decision to make Benedick an irredeemable douchebag, and the movie can't really recover.

Anyway, the actual play, which is called A Pretty Predicament About Punanis, is quite good. I'm not like the world's biggest fan of the man's comedies - I like tragedies better, sue me, so do you and if you say different you're lying - but one of his best is certainly this one, Quite A Commotion About Cooters.
Profile Image for Paul Haspel.
563 reviews83 followers
September 1, 2023
Much of the pleasure of this delightful comedy by William Shakespeare is to be found in its intelligence, for it is surely Shakespeare’s smartest love story. Theoretically, the main plot of this play relates to the thwarted love between the young nobleman Claudio of Florence and the beautiful Hero, the daughter of Leonato, Governor of Messina. But most readers and theatre-goers are more likely to focus on the sharp, crackling, freestyle verbal battles between Leonato’s niece Beatrice and the nobleman Benedick of Padua – whose expressed disdain for each other does nothing to conceal the fact that the two are falling rapidly and irretrievably in love.

As the play begins, Leonato learns from a messenger that he will soon receive a visit from Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon. The expected reunion of long-parted friends and family is an occasion for great joy. Beatrice, who is present at this news, asks immediately if Benedick, a friend of the Prince, will be coming there, too – though she makes sure to conceal her interest in Benedick behind a mask of disdain, saying that “He is a very valiant trencherman: he hath an excellent stomach.” The messenger sees only Beatrice’s disdain, stating, “I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.” Similarly, Benedick at another point early in the play invites his friends to scorn him if he can ever be described as “Benedick the married man.” Only as the play continues does one see how very much Benedick and Beatrice are in each other’s books, as they engage in an ongoing verbal battle that is truly “as merry as the day is long.”

It is against this backdrop that Don Pedro concocts a scheme. Saying to Leonato and Claudio that “I will tell you my drift,” Don Pedro – who clearly has seen the proverbial sparks flying between Beatrice and Benedick – sets forth a plan to make Beatrice and Benedick fall in love with one another.

Their plan goes well: just as Benedick is complaining that a once-confirmed fellow bachelor like Claudio – “He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier” – has suddenly gone all love-sick, he gets to “overhear” his friends talk about how madly Beatrice loves him; and the prospect does not displease him as much as he might have expected. While Don Pedro pretends to believe that Benedick is forever impervious to Cupid’s proverbial arrows, saying of Benedick that “He hath a heart as sound as a bell”, Benedick finds himself confessing that “Gallants, I am not as I have been.” Hero meanwhile provides the same sort of subversive “service” on behalf of Beatrice, awakening in Beatrice a comparable degree of surprise and interest.

Humour in Shakespeare is often a response to the pain that life can bring, and Much Ado About Nothing is no exception in that regard. Beatrice, asked by Don Pedro why she has such a “merry heart,” says of her “merry heart” that “it keeps on the windy side of care.” She seems to sense that her humour is sometimes in danger of going over the top, asking Don Pedro’s pardon with a self-dismissive statement that “I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.” The pain that life can bring, and against which no mirth is altogether proof, becomes more apparent later in this play.

In a way, Don Pedro knows not how wisely he speaks when he jokingly counsels Hero to “Speak low, if you would speak love.” The Prince’s brother Don John – a malicious illegitimate brother, like Edmund from King Lear – wishes to prevent the marriage of Claudio and Hero. Why does he harbor this wish? For no apparent reason. His is the same kind of “motiveless malignity” that is sometimes said to motivate Iago from Othello – a wish to do wrong for the wrong’s sake, simply because it will make others as unhappy as he is. Don John is, in short, more a plot device than a character – in Alfred Hitchcock terms, the “McGuffin” of Much Ado About Nothing.

Don John’s malicious plan is to have his serving-man Borracho woo his lover Margaret while Margaret is wearing Hero’s clothes. Such a flimsy scheme would seem incapable of fooling everyone, and yet it comes off. At the wedding ceremony, Claudio accuses Hero of lascivious behaviour and publicly dishonours her in front of all the assembled nobility of Messina. It is agreed that, in response, the assembled party will spread the word that the disgraced Hero has died of grief, in hopes that Claudio will repent of his cruelty toward her. As the Friar who was to conduct the wedding says to Hero, “Come, lady, die to live. This wedding day/Perhaps is but prolonged.” The only question at that point, as far as I am concerned, is why Hero would ever want this spoiled-rotten young man back. To my mind, she is well shed of him.

A Shakespearean audience would have expected some “low comedy” to complement the “high comedy” of witty verbal dueling. In Much Ado About Nothing, that “low comedy” comes through the intercession of one Dogberry, a constable who seems incompetent enough to have founded the “Keystone Kops” all by himself -- and yet successfully solves the crime at the heart of this play's plotline.

Dogberry, who makes a point of asking his equally inept subordinates, “Are you good men and true?”, overhears Borracho boasting of the success of Don John’s scheme, and at once arrests him. There is a kind of rough democracy in all this; the well-educated nobles have no clue as to the evil in their midst, while the uneducated country cop detects the crime, apprehends the perpetrators, and restores the good. What Dogberry tells one of the watchmen before the arrest of Borracho – “You may say they are not the men you took them for” – turns out to be true of the conspirators. Equally true, in terms of Shakespeare’s ongoing theme of the consequences for those who embrace evil, is Dogberry’s statement that “they that touch pitch will be defiled.”

The awakening love between Beatrice and Benedick is another relationship that is threatened by Don John’s scheming against Hero and Claudio. Once Beatrice and Benedick have disclosed their love for one another, Benedick asks how he can prove his love for Beatrice, and her response is plain and simple: “Kill Claudio.” Benedick’s initial demurral – “Not for the wide world” – eventually becomes an acquiescence. Seeing the depth of Beatrice’s grief and anger – “O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace!” – Benedick challenges Claudio to a duel to the death. It takes Claudio some time to understand that Benedick is serious – he seeks to placate Benedick by joking that “What though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care” – but eventually both Claudio and Don Pedro realize that Benedick is “In most profound earnest.”

Seeing all of this grief at this point in the play – Leonato remarks that “there never yet was philosopher/That could endure the toothache patiently” – one might wonder that Master Will is able to resolve all of these plotlines comedically in Act V. In accordance with the declaration by Hero’s father Antonio that an injustice has occurred, and that “some of us will smart for it,” Don John and his accomplices are indeed held accountable. The marriage of Hero and Claudio is able to go forward. And Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship goes forward as well; the two are even caught writing love notes to each other, in spite of Benedick’s insistence that he is no good at the task, as he says, “I was not born under a rhyming planet.”

Much Ado About Nothing took on new significance for modern audiences through Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 film adaptation. Branagh and then-wife Emma Thompson make a marvelously suitable Benedick and Beatrice, and the formidable supporting cast includes Denzel Washington (Don Pedro), Michael Keaton (Dogberry), Keanu Reeves (Don John), and Kate Beckinsale (Hero). Filmed against the lush landscape of Tuscany (in contrast with the play’s Sicilian setting), Branagh’s motion picture captures beautifully the comic textures of Shakespeare’s play. But having read the play many times, and having seen it staged in London, I can testify that one need not depend upon Branagh’s fine film to enjoy this play. Much Ado About Nothing offers much to anyone who loves comedy that appeals to the mind as well as the heart.
Profile Image for Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ .
815 reviews614 followers
February 6, 2020
I'll be editing this review next week, as I'm going to the Pop Up Globe in Auckland to see this play.

This is the final season for Auckland so I am really looking forward to it.

I'm also going to Romeo and Juliet, but I'm not intending to reread this, as I have seen the Zeffirelli & Luhrmann versions multiple times. One of my favourite plays, two of my favourite films.

As far as a reading experience goes - a few of the characters were painful! In particular Don Juan, Claudio & Hero. And Act III was very long, so I started to lose interest. But I may feel differently after seeing this live.

Edit: I only took a couple of photos & they were disappointing, but I really loved this production. The company added a strong Pacifika twist to some of the scenes and the ones involving music were exuberent and joyful. I do still despise Claudio though!

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
May 16, 2016
“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,-
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.”

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare may easily be his most witty work for dialogue.

“He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man. He that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him.”

The exchanges between Beatrice and Benedick are ageless. Like many of Shakespeare’s work, this play comes alive for the reader not just because of the erudite observations about human nature, but also because MAAN has been so influential that themes explored have been copied and provided inspiration by so many works since.

“For which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?”

102 reviews287 followers
February 17, 2010
I’ve always found feistiness attractive. It’s probably the only consistent trait in the girls I’ve fallen for since high school. The clever retort, the unimpressed eye roll, the sarcastic aside: for better or worse, these are the things the pique my interest and prepare me for that unique form of suffering known as love. On my own, I’m hardly confident or witty enough to succeed in one-on-one situations with women who are shy or generally unforthcoming. I need someone to throw down the gauntlet and challenge me to emerge from my self-absorbed, overly-staid default setting. I need a Beatrice.

Beatrice, Beatrice, Beatrice. She represents the most extreme range of feistiness that I’ve encountered in my romantic life; I’ve known two like her, and let’s just say that neither are my wife. I realize that, confined by the necessities of a comedic ending, Shakespeare ‘reforms’ both Beatrice and Benedick. In real life, however, there’s usually no such reformation, and while I shrink from suggesting that this type of extreme personality is antithetical to extended relationships, I have no doubt that it’s not for me in the long run. This isn’t to say that Beatrice’s personality no longer spins me around. It does and it has: I have a crush on Beatrice.

So it’s a small, playful crush, you’re thinking. Ah! but she’s more than just a well-timed bon mot. She has layers and a past deftly intimated. She’s been hurt, but she doesn’t let this trap her into the usual insecurities and vulnerabilities of a stock character. She rises above it and, if we disallow some mean-spirited trickery from her friends, I have no doubt that she’d forget Benedick as easily as I’ve forgotten loves long past*. Regardless, I’m sure she continues abusing Benedick verbally for years to come while, if his friends’ jests are to be seen as prophecy, she ends up giving him the horns (with me) after he returns to his flighty, bacheloresque ways. And anyway, I’ve a suspicion that some of Shakespeare’s comedies are more enjoyable if you simply disregard or adjust the ending when it doesn’t quite feel appropriate.

I’m not the only one in the room with a crush on Beatrice though. For starters, I need to compete with the Bard himself, who’s so enamored with his creation that he allows her to entirely overshadow (and occasionally speak for) the ironically named Hero. Plot-mover she may be; Hero is still a timid little thing who offers us very little personality or justification for compassion. In a way this is a smart move by Shakespeare, as it keeps the darker aspects of the play in check: without a large investment in either Hero or Claudio, we take their misfortunes in stride and are allowed the illusion of lightness in a play that’s brimming with calculated villainy.

While I’m temporarily distracted from thoughts of Bea, I’ll go ahead and discuss another character worthy of mention, Dogberry. He plays the hit-or-miss role of the clown, but he rises above the cringing due to a goofy habit that's been inspirational for modern writers. Both David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Safran Foer have made a practice of substituting incorrect but generally more difficult words in the dialogue of ill-spoken characters for comedic effect, which is exactly what Shakespeare does with Dogberry. So I must apologize to William for failing to give credit where it’s due in past reviews. But where was I? Oh! Beatrice. Beatrice, Beatrice, Beatrice.

*I’ve avoided the doghouse, right?
Profile Image for Oguz Akturk.
280 reviews494 followers
September 13, 2022
YouTube kanalımda Shakespeare'in hayatı, mutlaka okunması gereken kitapları ve kronolojik okuma sırası hakkında bilgi edinebilirsiniz: https://youtu.be/rGxh2RVjmNU

2004 yılında Türkiye'de yayınlanan Cennet Mahallesi dizisi acaba Shakespeare'in 1612 yılında yayımlanan Kuru Gürültü kitabından mı esinlenmişti? İşte, 400 senelik kadim soruya, yani dünyanın en önemli sorusuna cevap arıyorsanız bu karşılaştırmalı edebiyat incelemesini lütfen sonuna kadar okuyalım arkadaşlar...

Aşırı sıkıldığım bu karantina günlerinde dünya üzerinde muhtemelen daha önceden yapılmamış bir şekilde Shakespeare'in bu kitabındaki karakterleri Cennet Mahallesi dizisindeki karakterlerle karşılaştıracağım. Biliyorsunuz ki, bir zamanlar hepimiz Sultan ile Ferhat'ın bir yastıkta kocamasını fakat o lanet olası Rüstem'in sinir bozucu mavi minibüsüyle birlikte kel kafasının bir yerlerden gözükmesini sanki Scream filminde her deliğin altından çıkan hortlakmışcasına, çekiçle farklı deliklerden çıkan köstebekleri vurma oyunundaki köstebeklermişcesine karşılıyorduk.

Soundtrack'inde Adnan Şenses'in Bizim Mahalle adlı şaheseri bulunan Cennet Mahallesi aslında
"Bizim mahalle aşağıki mahalle, Sizin mahalle yukariki mahalle"
alıntısından besleniyor. Yunus ve Pembe'nin ailesi arasında oluşan gerilim, Sultan ile Ferhat'ın aşklarına sürekli mani oluyor. Aslında bu incelemeyi aileleri kavgalı olan Romeo ve Juliet kitabı için yazasım vardı ama o kitabın sayfasını Cennet Mahallesi'yle zehirlemek istemediğim için o kitap özelinde farklı bir fikrim var, ilerleyen günlerde onun için hazırlıklara başlayacağım.

Neyse, Kuru Gürültü'de bizim mahalle Aragon, yukarıki mahalle ise Messina. Karakterlerin Cennet Mahallesi ile karşılaştırmalı hali ise bence tam olarak şöyle:

Don Pedro - Yunus
Leonato (erkek ama olsun) - Pembe
Claudio ile Hero - Ferhat ile Sultan
Benedick ile Beatrice - Muharrem ile Menekşe
Don John - Rüstem
Borachio - Muavin Nuri
Conrade - Yanlışım varsa düzeltin Selim
Antonio - Götingenli Ethem
Balthasar - Beter Ali (ikisi de şarkıcı çünkü)
Margaret - Fatoş
Dogberry - Komiser Cemil
Aşağıki mahalle - Aragon
Yukarıki makalle - Messina

Bu kitapta da sinir bozucu bir şekilde insanların aşkını engellemeye çalışan bir Don John var, Cennet Mahallesi'nde de Rüstem var. Dizinin mavi minibüsü, bu kitapta karşımıza Hero adlı karakter üzerinden yapılan bir aldatmaca olarak çıkıyor. Yani tam olarak ben-zer iş-ler. Ayrıca Muharrem ile Menekşe'nin oturduklarında arkaya gittiği koltuğu maalesef bu romanda göremedim fakat Claudio ile Hero arasındaki duygusal ilişkinin Benedick ile Beatrice arasındaki akılcı ilişkiyle birlikte tam olarak bir Cennet Mahallesi sentezine ulaştığını söyleyebilirim. Ayrıca Balthasar adında bir şarkıcı, Dogberry adında bir polis, Antonio adında yaşlı bir adam, Borachio ve Conrade adında yardakçılar olunca Cennet Mahallesi yönetmeni Serdar Akar'ın kaliteli bir Shakespeare okuru olduğunu düşündüm.

Aldanan-aldatılan, iyi-kötü, yalan-doğru, zeki-saf, zalim-masum gibi zıtlıklarla kurulan Kuru Gürültü gibi Cennet Mahallesi de mesela zalim Rüstem-masum Ferhat, iyi Yunus-kötü Pembe, zeki Beter Ali-saf Ethem gibi tezatlıkları içerisinde barındırıyor. Evet, biraz absürt olacak fakat dünya üzerinde Hegel'in tez ve antitezlerle oluşturmuş olduğu diyalektiği ile Cennet Mahallesi'ni ve Shakespeare'in bir oyununu birleştirmiş ilk kişi olabilirim.

Her an başka bir Shakespeare incelemesinde de Çiçek Taksi, 7 Numara, Avrupa Yakası, Bizimkiler ya da Kaygısızlar gibi eski dizilerimizle karşılaştırmalı bir edebiyat incelemesi yazabilirim, hiç belli olmaz. İnşallah ilerleyen günlerde Hamlet'i Burhan Altıntop ya da Othello ile Desdemona'yı da Kaygısızlar'daki Eleman ile Burcu'ya benzetmem arkadaşlar. Bu karantina insana her işsizliği yaptırıyor. :(
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,710 followers
November 2, 2010
This is not a review. It is, instead, a call to all those people (who will probably never read these words because they aren't on goodreads) to teach Shakespeare young and often to the kids they love.

Don't wait for high school teachers to bungle the job. Don't let your kids stress out. Never tell your kids how tough Shakespeare is "supposed" to be. Don't share your own fears of the Bard's writing.

Do buy your family every filmed version or adaptation of Shakespeare's plays. Do, then, buy a book copy of that play, leave it around and encourage them to pick it up. Do let your kids watch as much Shakespeare as they want. Actually encourage them to enjoy that guy from Titanic as Romeo, that girl from Sixteen Candles as a modern day Miranda, Gilderoy Lockhart and Professor Trelawney as Benedick and Beatrice, Gandalf as Richard III and on and on. Do let them use Shakespeare's tastiest insults without putting money in the vulgarity jar. Do take them to any live versions of Shakespeare -- no matter how community theatre poor they may be -- and fill in the blanks for them the best that you can. Do let them tell you what they think happened, and do let yourself learn a little about the greatest playwright in the English language from those who are enjoying it without fear and trepidation.

Much Ado About Nothing is a great place to start if you're trying to introduce your kids to the world of the master storyteller. My six-year-olds spent the last three days diving into Much Ado (we watched Kenneth Branagh's fun film, read some stuff from the play itself, pretended we were the characters, played matching games to link the relationships in the play, talked a lot, and watched the movie a second time), and they came away today with an excellent understanding of what was happening and a love for the play. Milos is sure the play is about the love story of Benedick and Beatrice, but Bronte thinks they merely support the love story of Claudio and Hero, although she is not convinced that the latter pair are really in love. They are quoting Dogberry incessantly, and they are generally reveling in what they see as a fun, hilarious, positive experience. They can't wait to see Romeo and Juliet starting next weekend.

It can be that way for your kids too. For all kids. It really can. Just take the time, enjoy it with them (even if it is not your forte ... all you have to do is fake it), and see where the journey takes the whole family. It will set them up with an appreciation for art and theatre that will help them in their future education and -- more importantly -- enrich their imaginations.

"Psst! Shakespeare is good. Pass it on."
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,107 reviews531 followers
April 23, 2021
Studied this in High School decades ago. I've watched many theatrical versions of this as well.
My favourite of his comedies.
Profile Image for AleJandra.
832 reviews415 followers
April 2, 2019

Primer libro de Shakespeare que leo en inglés.
Y wow es otro mundo, absurdamente genial o genialmente absurdo.

Una historia divertidísima, simple y muy entretenida.

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