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Throughout the play Much Ado about Nothing, there is a lot of deception and trickery performed by most of the characters. Deception is usually considered as a tool used to spread chaos and unhappiness; however, in the play, it can be used to either push some characters to do the right things or to break the good relationships that exist between other characters. Through a play that utilizes metaphors and rhetoric devices, readers can witness the effects of deception and trickery, both positive and negative. This paper, therefore, analyzes the deception and trickery that is found throughout the play, relating these actions to the characters.
After the arrival of Don Pedro, Don John, Claudio, and Benedick first trickery scene is witnessed. Claudio falls in love with Hero but is afraid to approach her. Don Pedro then plans that he will disguise himself as Claudio and propose to her. This trickery is aimed at bringing two people together; Claudio and Hero. Don Pedro says: Look, what will serve is fit: 'tis once, thou lovest, And I will fit thee with the remedy./ I know we shall have revelling to-night: / I will assume thy part in some disguise / And tell fair Hero I am Claudio, / And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart / And take her hearing prisoner with the force / And strong encounter of my amorous tale … (Act I, i).
Don Pedro tries to convince Claudio that he will woo Hero on his behalf; a plan that Claudio does not dispute. The reason behind Don Pedro’s deceit is because of Claudio’s cowardice character; he does not know how to approach Hero, so Don Pedro sacrifices to woo her on his behalf. Claudio accepts the idea even though he doubts Don Pedro for a while. It shows how supportive Don Pedro is; he is willing to take a risk on behalf of Claudio to bring them together.
Don John is another character who plans trickery. His intention is to destroy the relationship between Claudio and Hero. He does this because of insecurity. Shakespeare illustrates how evil mind can manipulate others through deceit. While at the masquerade ball, Don John tells Claudio that Don Pedro is wooing Hero for himself and would marry her; they do this by pretending that they are talking to Benedick instead of Claudio:
Signior, you are very near my brother in his love: / he is enamoured on Hero; I pray you, dissuade him / from her: she is no equal for his birth: you may / do the part of an honest man in it (Act II, i).
When Claudio hears that Don Pedro betrayed him, he gets heart broken and wishes he has never shared his love fairytale with anyone. The main reason of this trickery is to create enmity between Claudio and Hero so that they do not end up married. Don John is a jealous man; he does not want to see Claudio marry because of his jealousy and envy. Borachio also portrays a poor character of plotting evil by working together with Don John.
Don Pedro and Claudio also plan to trick Benedick into marrying Beatrice, Leonato’s niece whom they have known since they were young, while he wonders in the garden still surprised how Claudio could fall in love. He tries to convince himself that he will never fall in love. Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio tell how Beatrice has been in love with Benedick and fear telling him because he would end up mocking her. Leonato further says how Beatrice has been writing letters to Benedick but tearing them because of her fear. He says: “By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think / of it but that she loves him with an enraged / affection: it is past the infinite of thought” (Act II, iii). The three further comment how Beatrice’s passion might drive her insane, if Benedick does not realize her feelings. The main aim of this trickery is to bring Benedick and Beatrice together. The 3 players of the plot are aware that the “two love birds” have feelings for one another but are so proud to admit; they, therefore, take it upon themselves to bring them together. This deception works on Benedick who decides to treat Beatrice differently; he even grooms himself to look appealing. Through this gesture, Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio prove to be kind and concerned about the welfare of other characters like Beatrice and Benedick; they sacrificed to deceive others to bring them together.
Another trickery witnessed in the story is Hero’s plot to convince Beatrice that Benedick is in love with her. Hero decides to go to the garden with Ursula and Margaret where Beatrice would overhear them. When they see Beatrice, Hero tells the two that Don Pedro told her how Benedick is crazily in love with Beatrice but is afraid of confessing since Beatrice would never agree to the affair. Ursula then praises Beatrice for being sensitive enough to return the affection of Benedick. Hero tells the maids:
No, not to be so odd and from all fashions / As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable: / But who dare tell her so? If I should speak, / She would mock me into air; O, she would laugh me / Out of myself, press me to death with wit. / Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire, / Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly: / It were a better death than die with mocks, / Which is as bad as die with tickling. (Act III, i)
Hero tries to explain that she will forbid Benedick of the passion since Beatrice will only criticize and mock the feeling. The three had plotted this trickery episode to let Beatrice fall in love with Benedick whom she has been avoiding. Beatrice gets shocked and cannot believe that she is loved. She decides to love her suitor back since she knows how worthy he is. The three characters portray true love since they care about Beatrice.
In Act III, Don John decides to perform another deception among other characters. He approaches Claudio and Don Pedro to make a claim that Hero is not a faithful woman and will break Claudio’s heart. When the two get shocked, he offers to provide evidence that will prove his claim. He says, “If you dare not trust that you see, confess not / that you know: if you will follow me, I will show / you enough; and when you have seen more and heard / more, proceed accordingly” (Act III, ii). The main purpose of this deception is to prevent the wedding of Hero and Claudio; Don John thinks that he is better off marrying the lady than Claudio and this makes him commit the trickery. On their marriage day, Claudio says:
Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness. / There, Leonato, take her back again: / Give not this rotten orange to your friend; / She's but the sign and semblance of her honour. / Behold how like a maid she blushes here! / O, what authority and show of truth / Can cunning sin cover itself withal! / Comes not that blood as modest evidence / To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear, / All you that see her, that she were a maid, / By these exterior shows? But she is none: / She knows the heat of a luxurious bed / Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty. (Act IV, ii).
Claudio tells everyone that Hero is a whore who is pretending to be a decent woman and decides not to marry her anymore. From the statement, it is clear that Don John manages to achieve his mission. Shakespeare shows clearly how the evil mind can easily manipulate pure souls and break relationships.
Another trickery that Shakespeare includes in his play is that of Friar Francis and Beatrice. They lie that Hero had died because of the false accusations made against her. This shows how much they care for Hero. They do not want people to think that she is a bad person, thus they decide to protect her “memory.” This trickery is also significant; Shakespeare uses it to show that Claudio truly loved Hero. He finally realizes that Hero is not dead: Nothing certainer: / One Hero died defiled, but I do live, / And surely as I live, I am a maid” (Act V, iv). The players of the trickery do this because they knew Hero is a decent girl who can never cheat; proving her innocence was, therefore, important.
Shakespeare shows that the act of trickery and deception is present throughout the play. The motivations behind the acts were either for search of love or evil plot to gain fortune. Hero, Claudio, Margaret, Leonato, Don Pedro, and the Friar are some of the characters that have deceived others for good intentions. Don John and his acquaintances like Borachio were involved in evil plots to destroy other people’s relationships. Through deceit of other characters, Beatrice and Benedick end up together as well as Hero and Claudio. The author of the play tries to illustrate how far families and friends can be willing to go to protect people. This can be seen from the relationships in the play. Hero, for instance, puts a fuss at Beatrice just to ensure she falls in love. The same scenario Don Pedro shows willing to woo Hero on behalf of Claudio. Through the trickery, it is also clear that evil cannot outdo good; even though Don John tried to break the relationship of Claudio and Hero, he fails in the end. Such failure of evil plan shows how much positive Shakespeare tried to make the play
Shakespeare, William. Much ado about nothing. Cambridge University Press, 1997. Print.
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