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Hi, ive got an essay to do about the book much ado about nothing and need urgent help, the essay question is "how does shakespeare use the ideas of deception, disguise and concealment to develop the comedy in much ado about nothing" PLEASE HELP
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(Original post by chelseaxxleigh)
Hi, ive got an essay to do about the book much ado about nothing and need urgent help, the essay question is "how does shakespeare use the ideas of deception, disguise and concealment to develop the comedy in much ado about nothing" PLEASE HELP
I got 30 for my coursework on a similar question here you go, hopefully it will give you some ideas:
How does Shakespeare use deception as a comic device within Act II Scene III and Act III Scene I of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’?
The pronunciation of ‘nothing’ creates comedy throughout the play through its connection with deception. ‘Nothing’ sounds similar to ‘noting’ meaning observing or eavesdropping in Elizabethan society, which catalyses the deception throughout the play, as it renders characters vulnerable and they are therefore easily deceived. This subsequently crafts comedy through the structure, language and form of the play. Specifically, with exaggerated speech, actions and sarcastic remarks paralleled with metaphors and puns which create comedy.
Firstly, Shakespeare uses deception to introduce the characters as fools at whom the audience can laugh. Particularly Benedick and Beatrice whose cerebral remarks and continuous ‘merry war’; led mainly by Beatrice comically contradicting Elizabethan society, creates humorous scenes. The ‘merry war’ itself spawns lateral humour from the exposition of one another’s flaws. Benedick insults Beatrice calling her ‘a rare parrot-teacher’ meaning that her language is nonsensical. However Shakespeare suggests underlying sexual tension, which is felt by the audience but ignored by both protagonists. Constructing a more ironic humour as two of the most intellectual characters of the play are deceiving themselves. This tension is apparent in the opening scene when Beatrice refers to Benedick as ‘Signior Mountanto’ a possible sexual innuendo considering a stallion ‘mounts’ a mare. When Beatrice says ‘you always end with a jade’s trick’ she explicates how Benedick is often disguised; which could mean that she is aware of his hidden romantic feelings towards her as she sees his “disguise”. Therefore he is only comically deceiving himself of his feelings as both his friends and Beatrice see through his ‘jade’s trick.’ Shakespeare further uses deception to unite Beatrice and Benedick and fulfil the light-hearted comic genre. Because the pair actively root against each other and would rather hear a ‘dog bark at a crow’ than to be in love, they are deceived by their friends so they may ‘requite’ one another. The comedy of the repercussions arises from the “fall” experienced by both characters which drastically changes their attitudes. Both openly scorn the notion of love, Benedick in his desire to ‘live a bachelor’ and Beatrice in her explanation that she will ‘never run mad’, meaning that she will never fall in love. Therefore when they ‘hath ta’en th’infection’, are deceived by their friends and fall in love, the quick and ironic change to their previous unyielding attitudes is amusing for the audience. Furthermore the consequential “fall” presents both characters as fools; juxtaposing their normal honourable behaviour. However, ironically once they ‘love’ one another they transform from fools to a new stance of romantic lovers. Therefore Shakespeare introduces the inept characters Dogberry and Verges in order to create a source of authentic humour to entertain the audience.
Shakespeare also uses deception in order to humiliate Beatrice and Benedick through comic role reversal and attitude fluctuations. During Benedick’s soliloquy at the beginning of Act II Scene III he publicises his misogynistic views whilst mocking Claudio’s transformation into ‘the argument of his own scorn by falling in love.’ Therefore when Benedick concludes rather simply because ‘the world must be peopled’ he should love Beatrice, the reason for his attitude change is humorous due to its immediate alteration on his previous adamant opinion concerning love. Enhancing the comedy is the role reversal from love’s mocker becoming love’s victim coupled with Benedick’s change in attitude becoming a parallel of Claudio’s. The behavioural change of Beatrice and Benedick following their deception is comical as it provides not only physical but exaggerated linguistic comedy. At the end of Act II Shakespeare alters Benedick’s demeanour on stage after his deception; acting more kindly towards Beatrice whilst interpreting her differently when she enters the garden. He assumes Beatrice is flirting with every word she says ‘against her will.’ Benedick finds a ‘double meaning in that’; due to his deception reforming his interpretation of Beatrice. He believes that Beatrice means she wishes to remain in the garden with him as she ‘loves him’, and not go back inside but she’s being made to ‘against her will.’ Alternatively, the audience understands that Beatrice’s explanation ‘against her will’ simply reflects her desire to not speak to Benedick. Shakespeare crafts this scene in order to exploit the comedy genre as Beatrice is cynical towards Benedick’s sudden kind attitude towards ‘fair Beatrice’ when previously demanding her to keep her ‘ladyship still in that mind’, suggesting she is mad. Beatrice’s cynicism is evoked as she is unaware of Benedick’s change of heart and deception which has convinced him that she ‘is in love with’ him. This complex plot creates confusion and misunderstanding which creates comical results, particularly on stage through the awkward tension between Beatrice and Benedick. Similarly Beatrice changes to speak in verse with quatrain and couplet rhyming patterns, the rhyming pattern of a sonnet, which further explicates her comic “fall” whilst intertwining love into the plot. However unlike Benedick, Beatrice’s sincere refinement is clear in her romantic phrasing ‘bind our love’ and her genuine disheartenment at the knowledge that she is known as ‘lady tongue’ throughout Messina; thus she bids ‘farewell’ to ‘contempt’ in order to ‘requite’ Benedick. Shakespeare uses deceit to craft comedy from Beatrice especially for an Elizabethan audience as it is evoked from Beatrice’s realisation that she is a fool with no honour, mocked in society for her values. Satirising the fear of wavering honour in Elizabethan society.
Ultimately, Shakespeare uses deception to cause comical reactions from Beatrice and Benedick. In Act II Scene III Benedick is first deceived by his friends as a consequence of his ‘noting’ of their conversation, which is successfully executed as his friends are aware of where he ‘hath hid himself’ and therefore carefully use asides to allow only what will deceive Benedick to be heard. Shakespeare also uses the asides as a comic device to develop dramatic irony as the audience is enlightened to the true nature of the plot- this is ‘a gull’. On stage this scene would entertain the audience with the physical comedy of actions and expressions formed from ‘noting’ caused by the deception ‘I will hide me in the arbour’. Equally the anecdotal humour amuses the audience which comments on aspects of Benedick’s personality ‘hath a contemptible spirit.’ Arguing that Benedick is loathsome, causing vulnerability in his character and causing him to act the fool at whom we laugh. Whilst highlighting his narcissism exemplified in his attempt to ‘note’ what his friends are saying about him. This contrast of Benedick’s once honourable character now behaving so naively crafts ironic comedy and further demonstrates his “fall”. Ursula and Hero’s deception of Beatrice creates folly and comic results whilst involving the underlying theme of conflict as both scenes use characters of the same gender; presenting an image of the two sexes battling. Ursula and Hero insult Beatrice’s character referring to her as a ‘haggard of the rock’, which aggressively denounces her stubborn attitude in a metaphor for a wild hawk which is significantly harder to tame than a hawking bred in captivity. However this is an amusing truth for the audience who understand these words are only to deceive Beatrice, uniting her with Benedick rather than insult. However Cerasano comments that “Hero’s playful proposal to employ ‘honest slander’ brings ironic repercussions for her later in the play, for it is the ‘dishonest slander’ that poisons Claudio’s affections (and) disrupts Hero’s marriage.” Thus suggesting that the deception in this scene is not as harmful as experienced by Hero. Also comically, Hero comments on the physical comedy visible to the audience in her movement in order to ‘note’ the conversation, ‘look for where Beatrice like a lapwing runs’ referring to how she is sometimes hidden and other times visible. Shakespeare also comically references the stereotype that women are often unable to conquer curiosity as Beatrice allows herself to be deceived by Hero and Ursula.
Shakespeare crafts the deception in the play to create a relationship between Beatrice and Benedick that ends in marriage; a light-hearted ending, a requirement of Shakespearean comedy. Alternatively, deception is used to create more low-level humour which plays upon aspects of Elizabethan society. The deception involving Beatrice and Benedick is comic as it’s simply a game; during Beatrice’s deception Shakespeare enlightens the audience to this truth as Hero incorporates metaphors for a hunting game. This juxtaposes the destructive deception which Don John involves himself in with ‘the lady disloyal’ a trick which temporarily destroys the marriage of Hero and Claudio as Claudio is deceived into the belief that Hero was ‘disloyal.’ However Don John’s deception still involves elements of comedy as the fatal flaws of characters and insecurities, which are often comical, are highlighted. The fear of cuckolding endangering ‘honour’ was omnipresent for a man in Elizabethan society, hence Don John’s incitation that ‘it would better fit’ Claudio’s ‘honour’ to call off the marriage to Hero, in order to maintain his honour and pride. Ironically deceiving Claudio into behaving dishonourably in his desertion of Hero on false grounds. Satirising cuckolding, a comedy which an Elizabethan audience could appreciate and relate to, thus find amusing. Equally, Benedick too satirises cuckolding when he mock’s Leonato, questioning his role as an ‘honourable father’, ultimately suggesting he is not the true father of Hero. Traditionally, the deception of Don John fulfils the objectives for a comedy, foremost because it results in confusion a key aspect of comedy, which provides overwhelming opportunity for theatrical comedy through character’s folly and misunderstanding.
Deception is the one of the most significant comic device used by Shakespeare in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. With the deception of characters causing disorder, comedy is created from language, form and structure. The folly of characters, particularly Benedick and Beatrice, coupled with the ironies their situation links to, creates the key aspects of comedy. Especially since the deception results in the previously warring lovers to requite each other and marry, ending the play in a light-hearted manner, satisfying the objectives for a comedy.

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