William Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing

William Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing

William Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing

William Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing

Excerpt

Much Ado about Nothing contrasts notably with the early Shrew, which is similarly structured in terms of antithetical couples, not only in its greater elegance of composition and expression, but in its placing of the comic initiative in the hands of its vivacious heroine Beatrice. In both plays, as indeed in all of the comedies, courtly love conventions and natural passion, affection and spontaneity, romance and realism, or style and substance, saying and believing, simulation and dissimulation interlock; while the dual or agonistic structure of courtship allows for reversals, exchanges and chiastic repositionings of those contraries during the dynamic progress of the plots. In Much Ado, moreover, Shakespeare modifies his usual multiple-plot practice. He normally has a sub- or midplot which functions as a distorting mirror for the main plot, exaggerating to a degree of positive aberration the deficiencies adumbrated in the latter, while the lower-order fools provide at once a ridiculing parody of the middle characters and a foil for the higher recognitions of the higher ones. As Salingar points out, "it appears to be necessary for the lovers to act out their fantasies, and to meet living images or parodies of themselves before they can rid themselves of their affectations and impulsive mistakes." Here, however, as in The Shrew, it is at first blush hard to tell which is model and which parody. Beatrice and Benedick's unorthodox views on marriage are a parody of normal conventions and so confirm Hero anc Claudio in their soberer ways. Qnly later do we perceive that it ls the conventionality, and

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