Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing written by William Shakespeare, is considered one of his most endearing and best comedic plays. It is believed to have been written between 1598 and 1599, and is considered to be a perfect combination of humor and serious contemplations on subjects of shame, public honor, and bureaucratic politics.

Evolution in language has somewhat confused the meaning around the title of this play. In Shakespeare's era the word "noting" was pronounced "nothing," and its definition was that of gossip, overhearing, and rumor. Despite this vernacular difference, the play has been popular throughout the ages since its original performance.

The play begins in Messina, where a messenger brings news that the prince from Aragon, Don Pedro, will return triumphant after winning a battle. Leonato, the governor of Messina, is questioned by Beatrice about Benedick, another soldier. She questions his abilities and Leonato explains to the soldiers, Claudio among them, that Benedick and Beatrice has a kind of friendly fighting relationship that could be rooted in flirtation.

When Don Pedro arrives, Leonato invites him to stay as a guest. Don John, illegitimate brother to Don Pedro, is introduced into the fold. Claudio sees Leonato's daughter Hero and is transfixed and again in love with her, soon after announcing that he will attempt to court and marry her.

Benedick laughs at Claudio for his open courting of Hero and declares he will never marry. Don Pedro encourages the union however, and tells Claudio that when he meets that special someone his fear of commitment will be abated.

To celebrate the end of the war, a masquerade ball is planned. Don Pedro, still rooting for Claudio and Hero to be together, will help to woo her on his behalf. His brother Don John uses this distraction to his advantage and tells Claudio that Don Pedro desires Hero for himself. When Claudio confronts Don Pedro the altercation is quickly put at ease and Claudio walks away with the permission to marry Hero.

Meanwhile during the ball, Benedick in disguise dances with Beatrice and is dismayed to hear her proclaim him a jester and dull fool. He vows revenge. Don Pedro and his surrounding men are bored at the idea of waiting a week for a wedding to attend, and plot to make Beatrice and Benedick a match.

A series of overheard conversations and trickeries are successful in making both Beatrice and Benedick believe they have been living as objects of unrequited love. They both vow to reconcile their differences.

Don John plots that he will prevent the wedding and cause embarrassment to his brother and pain to Leonato and Claudio. He accuses Hero of being unfaithful and arranges a fake liaison where Borachio enters his bedchamber to see her supposedly being unfaithful. In reality John was committing this act with Hero's chambermaid, but both Claudio and Don Pedro believe the lie and Claudio pledges to publicly humiliate Hero.

During the wedding Claudio calls out Hero and leaves with Don Pedro in front of stunned guest and a shocked Hero. She faints and her father Leonato is horrified. A friar interjects and believes Hero is innocent and suggests they fake her death to arrive at the truth of the matter. Beatrice asks Benedick to kill Claudio to prove his love for her.

Don John is pronounced a traitor and Leonato arranges another wedding, with a girl that is very similar in looks to Hero. Claudio is overjoyed to see that the bride is indeed Hero and not a stranger. Don John has been captured far way, but his punishment is proposed to be postponed so the couples, Claudio and Hero, and Beatrice and Benedick, can enjoy their new happiness.