"This play we must call a comedy, tho' some of the incidents and discourses are more in a tragic strain; and that of the accusation of Hero is too shocking for either tragedy or comedy" (Charles Gildon 1714)
How far do you accept this comment about the play's events and language?
"Much Ado About Nothing" is a play categorised as a comedy, and written by the dramatist William Shakespeare. A comic play is usually accepted to be a light-hearted play with a happy conclusion. A play classed as a tragedy is serious and sad, usually ending with the death of the main character. A tragicomedy is a play consisting of both tragic and comic elements. Much Ado is of the comedy genre as it contains humorous scenes and ends happily, however the play also includes serious incidents, which contributes to a tragic element in the play.
The sixteenth century period and the influence of the Elizabethan era would have affected the way Shakespeare wrote his plays. The technological advance since the sixteenth century is considerable. We believe Shakespeare's theatre relied on theatrical effects as minima, and that play's relied entirely on the language.
In Elizabethan society marriages were arranged, property and power were the main reason that influenced discussions for marriage. Daughters were often seen as a strain on family finances, although useful for making political connections, and often judged on their potential for breeding healthy children. Claudio asks Don Pedro if Leonato "hath…any son" to answer the question of inheritance, which a male heir would be left, supporting the Elizabethan view on marriage.
In the Elizabethan period, it was "forbidden" for women to appear on stage and considered "immoral", and so boys played the roles of females, Shakespeare explored the position of women through his plays; and in Much Ado we see a "strong" and "witty" female character such as Beatrice as a main character was an accepted occurrence in Shakespeare's plays.
Prose predominates in comedy and where a conversational rather than an emotional or imaginative effect if desired, this strengthens the argument that Much Ado is a comedy. Shakespeare wrote the play mostly in prose form except for scenes of extreme emotion and feeling, "could she here deny…thou wouldst not quickly die" as when Hero's unfaithfulness was enlightened at the church to Leonato. When a character has strong emotions of happiness or sadness, Shakespeare uses poetry to highlight the heightened feelings and often allows characters long and uninterrupted speeches of poetry to express themselves more clearly and with feeling.
Comic scenes lighten the play and contain some sexual innuendo and many witty remarks and exchanges between the characters, Leonato answering, "Her mother hath many times told me so" when the Prince presented Hero to Leonato. Some of the characters have a language device as Dogberry with his malapropisms "our sexton hath reformed Signior Leonato",...