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The play Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare derived much of his plot, in the play Much Ado About Nothing, from alternate sources, but his individual language and use of wording is what draws people to his works. His plot in Much Ado About Nothing is fairly simple but elegant. Two sets of lovers fall in love. They are Claudio and Hero and Benedict and Beatrice. The miscreant, Don John, schemes to break up the marriage of Claudio and Hero, but he eventually fails. Shakespeare adopted, or stole these plots from a set of three books. They are Novelle by Matteo Bandello, Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, and The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser.

Shakespeare did not try to disguise his stolen plots, meagerly altering names of characters and places. He extracted small pieces of plot from each of these books, but they are still readily noticeable. The setting of this play is in Italy, which Shakespeare also adopted as his own. It does not matter what the plots are in any of Shakespeare’s plays because the aspect that made him so renowned was his use of the English language, molding into iambic pentameter. This style of writing, also known as blank verse is characterized by five unstressed syllables followed by five stressed syllables.

O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do”(Shakespeare 59). This is an example of iambic pentameter. There are eighteen singular syllables, but daily and knowing are two syllables each, so that is twenty whole syllables. This is two sets of blank verse. Shakespeare deserves all credentials possible in his works because his language is incredible. In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare used some of the characters and plot from a play written by Matteo Bandello called Novelle. This play was accessible to Shakespeare because it had been translated into French from Italian.

In this play, there was a King of Aragon who came with his army to aid the people. One of his knights fell in love with a young, chaste lady, the daughter of Master Lionato. This knight was very much in love with this lady, and wished to marry her. Lionato was also from Messina corresponding in Much Ado About Nothing with Leonato, the governor of Messina. This place is in Italy. Signor Timbreo became obsessed with this girl, named Fenicia. Fenicia and Timbreo were desperately in love with eachother, and wished to be betrothed. Signor Timbreo commissioned a messenger to go and ask Lionato if he could have his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Lionato was happy with this arrangement, and he gave his consent. Also, there was another knight in this story, Signor Girondo. This man and Signor Timbreo were great friends, just like Benedict and Claudio. These two men were also very noble. Now, Girondo fell in love with Fenicia. He wanted to destroy the relationship of Timbreo and Fenicia to lure Fenicia to him. This plot is much like the plot of Don John, the bastard brother of Don Pedro, in Much Ado About Nothing. He is very impetuous in his actions. Girondo uses similar means of deception in trying to break up the young lovers’ relationship.

With the aid of a friend, Girondo pleads to Timbreo that his lover is unfaithful. Now, Girondo leads Timbreo to Fenicia’s window. Timbreo can not believe what he sees. He becomes very mad. He slanders and offends Fenicia. Fenicia becomes suicidal, and her father, Lionato, sends her away from Messina, but spreads falsely the news that Fenicia had died. Both Timbreo and Girondo are saddened by this unfortunate news. A year later, Lionato arranges a marriage for Timbreo. This turns out to be Fenicia. Soon after, Girondo marries Fenicia’s sister, Belifore.

This relationship with Girondo and Belifore can not be compared with the relationship of Benedict and Beatrice. Obviously, there are striking similarities between Much Ado About Nothing and Novelle. There are many similar character names adopted by Shakespeare, like Leonato from Lionato. The setting is also the same because both plays take place in Messina, Italy. Also corresponding between these two plays is the dnouement. Shakespeare brazenly stole these plots from Matteo Bandello. It is difficult to comprehend how Shakespeare got away with this. One of the major differences in these two plays is the character development of Benedict.

In Much Ado About Nothing, this character is basically a good person. He falls in love with Hero’s cousin, Beatrice. Also, he is a knight in the army, and he is noble. In Novelle, the character of Benedict in not the same. He starts out noble, but soon, he reappears as a love driven man. His actions are pushed along by his love for Fenicia. The things he does he normally wouldn’t do. Shakespeare basically adopted the character relationship of Timbreo and Fenicia and turns them into Hero and Claudio. Names are minutiae. He also uses the Prince of Aragon and Lionato in Much Ado About Nothing.

The character names or relationships are not the quintessential pieces of Shakespeare, though. The language, as in all of Shakespeare’s great works is the most important aspect. His writing also leaves the characters personality more gray rather than black and white. The plot of Novelle is important to Much Ado About Nothing, but it is Shakespeare’s language that makes his play great. Also, coupled with the play of Novelle, are the two plays The Faerie Queen and Orlando Furioso. The Faerie Queen was written by Edmund Spencer while Orlando Furisio was written by Ludovico Ariosto.

These two plays also have common similarities and differences when compared with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The characters and parts of the plot have differences. Much Ado About Nothing comes from a line of plagiarism. First, Orlando Furioso was written, then Spenser copied this and repackaged it as The Faerie Queen. So, next came Much Ado About Nothing from these two plays. In Orlando Furioso, there is the common story of the falsely accused maiden who fakes her death. This time though, the lady falls in love with the gentleman. Orlando Furioso also takes place in Italy.

There is a scene similar to one in Much Ado About Nothing where the man in love with the beautiful, chaste woman is beguiled into thinking his lover has been unfaithful by a group of villains. The man now refuses to marry this maiden because of what he has seen her do. The evil men try to destroy this man, but their schemes are soon discovered. Orlando Furisio and Much Ado About Nothing have great similarities in plot but not in language. In The Faerie Queen, this similar equation for the plot is devised. This time, a squire falls into a great love with a beautiful lady. Then, he is tricked into believing she is false in her ways.

This scheme is also foiled, comparing greatly with Novelle, Orlando Furisio, and Much Ado About Nothing. Again, the plot scheme is not the most important part of these plays. The plays all share threads of the same plot and characters, but they are different in motives, themes, and character development. Shakespeare is extremely conspicuous in his play Much Ado About Nothing. He does not use different characters or a different setting, but not many people seem to care. Harold Bloom wrote, “it would not have shocked Shakespeare, who understood that literature and plagiarism were scarcely to be distinguished.

Plagiarism is a legal distinction, not a literary one. Universality is the authentic aspect of only a handful of Western writers”(Bloom 70). This universality is another reason Shakespeare is great. It all comes down to Shakespeare’s use of his astonishing blank verse. I do not believe that Shakespeare was ignoble when he stole the plots for his works, but I think that he needed the plots to get started. The plots were Shakespeare’s stepping stones to greatness. His works are revolutionary. He is a major factor in the development of the English language because he headed the new modern wave of the English language.

Do you think it is a coincidence that the greatest writer in history comes from possibly one of the greatest in England’s history? I do not. Shakespeare played off this great time. The Elizabethan era and himself came wrapped in a package. During this time, the English had money, so they went to do more recreational activities. One of the things they did was go to the theater. This is how Shakespeare got his business. He merely took advantage of having people going to the theaters more. He cranked out thirty-seven great plays in a very short lifetime. He also wrote one hundred and fifty sonnets.

Shakespeare’s greatness is categorical and unequivocal. “Shakespeare seems to have been popular and well liked both as a person and as a dramatist”(Srye 38). This statement said by Northrop Srye is very suprising to me. It seems odd that such a great writer and playwright would be well liked. I would think that Shakespeare would be different from the rest of the people, and therefore he would be a dejected outcast. The language of William Shakespeare is the reason that he is and always will be the greatest writer in the world. This is one thing that possibly will never change.

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