Social Illusions in Much Ado About Nothing
In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare presents us with a romp through the realms of truth and illusion. The play is full of characters plotting and deceiving, for both noble and repugnant reasons. It is a study in the importance and necessity of illusion in our everyday lives, and shows how deeply ingrained deception is in our social behaviors.
Everybody is involved in some kind of illusion, from the masked celebration to the unveiling of Hero's "cousin." Two of the major conspiracies in the play are the Claudio/Hero plotline and the Benedick/Beatrice story. Both of these situations contrast the multiplicitous nature of illusion.
Claudio and Hero do not operate in the realm of illusion. Their intentions and emotions are easily visible, so much so that they come off as transparent. Their utter lack of ability to engage in social illusion makes them unbelievable: Claudio falls in love with Hero upon sight, but cannot create an illusion as simple as the portrayal of himself as a suitor. To the audience these two come off as fake, and this clues the viewer/reader in to the fact that the characters of Claudio and Hero are Shakespeare's illusion of true love. Shakespeare knew that love is not straightforward and that oftentimes love and honesty do not go hand in hand.
Benedick and Beatrice, however, are well-versed in the intricacies of illusion. They disguise their affection with verbal sparring, creating a façade of animosity. They are successful only at fooling themselves, and it is this self-delusion that brings them into the realm of believability. By far, Benedick and Beatrice are more realistic than Claudio and Hero because they work, just as we all do, in the realm...