Much Ado About Nothing: A Criticism


Spoiler Warning!

Starting March 9th, Keystone high school is showing an adaptation of the play Much Ado About Nothing; as it seems, it’s the perfect time to talk about this play. Written by Shakespeare in the 16th century, this play has long been one of the most performed plays by Shakespeare. It follows five main protagonists: Don Pedro, Beatrice, Benedick, Claudio, and Hero. The story starts right after a small war between Don Pedro and his brother, Don John. Claudio, one of Don Pedro’s comrades and acclaimed soldiers, falls in love with Hero. Although both supposedly hating each other, Benedick Beatrice also end up a couple. A sad and defeated Don John plots to ruin the marriage of Claudio and Hero after seeing how everyone is getting their supposed “happy ending” while he is not. While many people would claim that Shakespeare was a genius in playwriting, that he was ahead of his time in creating these dramatic literary masterpieces of how people live, love, hate, and die. However, I am afraid to disagree. In fact, he may be the exact opposite. 

Perhaps the most confusing and unrealistic parts of Shakespeare’s writings are his depictions of love. Fated lovers, star crossed lovers, unrequited love, courtly love—whatever it was‒it was all fake. Claudio and Hero, after perhaps meeting once, suddenly have fallen in love with one another. Not only this, Shakespeare presents it as if they have a supposed deep, unbreakable bond formed by their singular interaction at a party before they decide to marry one another. Worst of all, their impulsive decision to marry only shows deep flaws in themselves, depicting them as naïve, simple young adults with barely any sense in their brain. When Claudio, who is too shy to court Hero, sends out Don Pedro (his best friend) to ask for Hero’s hand in marriage in his stead during a masquerade ball, we see Hero not even hesitating to say yes. She doesn’t even ask once or get suspicious that the man wooing her is not in fact Claudio, showing their extremely weak bond. How would a love be weak enough to not even recognize each other’s physical appearance, manners, and voice. No wonder they had so little trust in each other that Claudio immediately believed Don John when he said that Hero was cheating on him with another man! Claudio and Hero are the supposed “perfect” couple as well. 

Benedick and Beatrice, the enemies to lovers duo, have an even worse love story. In the first scene, Beatrice is already insulting Benedick at any chance he gets, calling him a gold digger (but to nobles instead of women) and ugly. Benedick as well insults Beatrice back with the same ferocity and even has a monologue about how much he wants to be single for the rest of his life and die alone. Oh, wow, and you want to guess what happens next? They fall in love. It’s not even because they suddenly realize they love each other, but rather because they overhear their friends talking about how much Beatrice loves Benedick and Benedick loves Beatrice. Benedick doesn’t even take into consideration that Claudio, the same friend he insulted so heavily for falling in love, was the same person he believed when he said Beatrice was in love with him. No, they don’t even think about it. They don’t have the common sense to realize that they weren’t insulting each other because they secretly had crushes on each other, but because they genuinely just hated each other. I guess it turned out alright in the end because they discovered their “true feelings” toward one another. However, it does make you wonder… What if they never believed what they heard? 

Shakespeare, in writing this mess of a play, as well as many others, has been deemed the greatest playwright of all time. His convoluted storylines have given way to big plot holes and inconsistencies with characters, yet even critics look past this. However, you can change that. Don’t read Shakespeare. 

(If you have time, please still go to the Keystone adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing either on March 9th, 10th, or 11th to support the actors!)