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How Does Shakespeare Explore The Theme Of Words And Silence?

1112 words - 4 pages

In Much Ado About Nothing, there are many ways in which Shakespeare looks into the theme of words and silence through the characters of Dogberry, Don John and Hero. Shakespeare analyses this theme through how the characters use their own words to help themselves whether it be their weapon, shield or a weapon against themselves. Also, what effect their words have on the audience and other characters such as fear, humour and allowing the audience to get more involved. The theme also shows how they express their feelings of love, hatred or authority through silence.
From the very beginning Shakespeare has carefully determined how the characters use their words to defend themselves against others. Don John uses his words as a weapon to destroy the other characters; he prefers to be a ‘canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace’. This metaphor suggests that Don John hates that Don Pedro has more authority than he does and he despises the way Don Pedro casts a shadow over him. The contrast Shakespeare uses between a ‘weed’ and a ‘rose’ shows the audience how much Don John wants to stop pretending to be someone who he isn’t since it’s better for his ‘blood to be disdained’. As a comparison to Don John, Shakespeare makes Hero use her words as an act of defence. During the wedding scene Hero protects herself by saying, ‘Oh, God defend me! how am I beset!’. Hero looks to ‘God’ for help instead of defending herself whilst Claudio is attacking her with his words as ‘weapons’, this shows Hero’s desperation and the audience feels annoyed because Hero doesn’t always use her words as a shield when she should. However, when Hero does defend herself she uses her words sparingly by saying, ‘Is my lord well’ and ‘seem'd I ever otherwise to you?’ Shakespeare shows Hero clinging on to her last remains of hope by making her ask rhetorical questions. Although she tries to defend herself she makes a very poor attempt at it as her argument bears no weight to due to her flustered state. Shakespeare makes Dogberry have a completely different motivation when it comes to how he uses his words. Dogberry’s interesting vocabulary makes his own words turn into a ‘weapon’ against him which appears to be amusing for the audience because he is incapable of selecting the appropriate word in his sentences. When Dogberry and The Watch are explaining the crime, Dogberry says, ‘indeed comprehended two aspicious persons’, the incorrect use of words backfire on Dogberry as they aren’t the meaning he intended to use –Dogberry meant the words apprehended and suspicious. Ironically, Shakespeare uses Dogberry’s constant use of malapropisms to actually lead him and his men to outsmart Don John and his minions, the effect of Dogberry’s words changes the play entirely.
As well as Dogberry’s words, Shakespeare uses the effect of words to move the play forward so the plot can develop more smoothly. Hero’s poetic lines achieve the effect she wants to achieve, act 3 scene 1 would allow an Elizabethan...

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