William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is a play involving by deception, disloyalty, trickery, eavesdropping, and hearsay. The play contains numerous examples of schemes that are used to manipulate the thoughts of other characters; it is the major theme that resonates throughout the play. Ironically, it is one of these themes that bring serenity to the chaos that encompasses most of the play. The first example of deception we see is with the characters of Beatrice and Benedick.
These two characters provide the humor throughout Shakespeare’s comedy; their repartees and soliloquies tend to leave the reader smiling and anxious for more dialogue between them. Beatrice and Benedick have had a relationship prior to their battles of wit to which she alludes to in Act 2: “Marry, once before he won it for me with false dice; / Therefore your grace may well say I have lost it (2. 1. 265-7). We see that at one time in the past they had a relationship that somewhere went wrong. The deception of Beatrice and Benedick comes courtesy of Don Pedro in Act 2.
In this scene, Don Pedro, out of pure amusement, asks Leonato, the governor of Messina, and Claudio, a lord attending on Don Pedro, for help to bring these two together: “If we can do this, Cupid is no / longer an archer; his glory shall be ours” (2. 1. 363-4). In Act 2. 3, Claudio, Pedro, and Leonato, see Benedick in the garden and decide that that is the right moment for them to try and trick Benedick into falling for Beatrice. The three men talk of Beatrices false affections towards Benedick, and in his eavesdropping he falls for the bait.
Benedick, shows us his true feelings in his soliloquy: “This can be no trick / I will be horribly in love with her” (2. 3. 210,223). Benedick, decides that he will allow himself to fall in love with Beatrice. The second example of deception is seen in Act 3. 1. Hero and Ursula do their parts to trick Beatrice into falling in love with Benedick. They speak highly of Benedick and “praise him more than ever man did merit” (3. 3. 19). In her eavesdropping and overhearing she falls for the bait, as did Benedick. In Beatrices soliloquy she discloses her thoughts of Benedicks false affectations towards her.
She is willing to tame her heart so that Benedick and she can be together. Beatrices submissiveness shows her subconscious yearnings to be in love, as well as Benedick even though She and Benedick arent willing to admit it. The most heinous act of deception in Much Ado About Nothing is committed against Hero, the daughter of Leonato, and Claudio. These two characters, unlike Beatrice and Benedick, fall in love after seeing each other for the first time Shakespeares classic case of love at first sight.
The deception starts after Borachio overhears Don Pedros plan to “assume thy part in some disguise” (1. 305) in order to woo Hero for Claudio. At the masquerade party, while Don Pedro is dancing with Hero in hopes of wooing her for Claudio, Borachio and Don John encounter Claudio and try to convince him that Don Pedro is only wooing Hero for himself: “Signor, you are very near my brother in his love. / He is enamored on Hero” (2. 1. 155-6). After Borachio and Don Johns diabolical scheme seems to work, Claudio soliloquizes the audience with maxims of truth. He talks about friendship always being “constant” (2. 1. 167) except when it comes to love.
After Don Pedro finishes dancing with Hero, he comes to tell Claudio the good news that he has wooed Hero and she will accept his hand in marriage; he is ecstatic and is nearly left speechless. It is here that Don Johns plan goes awry and his contingency plan comes into play. Don John devises a plan to trick Don Pedro and Claudio into seeing Borachio and Margaret pretending to be Hero and her secret lover at Heros window. This infuriates Claudio and he prepares to make an example out of Hero at their wedding. At the church, Claudio verbally attacks Hero: “She knows the heart of a luxurious bed; / Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty” (4. 40-1).
This postpones the wedding and creates confusion among every one around. Claudio shows no sense of trust in Hero and neither does her father Leonato. Right away he says that the only forgiveness for such a sin would be death, even though the rumor of her infidelity hasnt been confirmed: O Fate, take not away thy heavy hand! Death is the fairest cover for her shame That may be wished for. (4. 1. 113-5) Finally, its eavesdropping and overhearing that brings justice to a chaotic state when Borachio is confessing to Conrad what Don John and he have done to Hero And Claudio.
Borachio tells Conrad the details of their deception of Hero and Claudio. While he is telling his story “like a true drunkard,” (3. 3. 104) two watchmen overhear him and arrest him immediately in the princes name. Much Ado About Nothing is full of deception whether the motives are good or bad misconstruing, hearsay and disloyalty among the characters; it is also these themes that bring the world at peace at the end of the play. Shakespeares comedy shows that trust in others is a high quality and if one sees trust in another, it can be used to manipulate the actions and thoughts of another be it for good reasons or not.