How Does Shakespeare portray Women in Much Ado About Nothing?
I believe eavesdropping plays a very important role in Much Ado.
Therefore, I have chosen to answer this essay question, as I feel
strongly about it. In the play, Shakespeare makes use of eavesdropping
by using it as a comic device, but also to sort out situations so that
the play is able to go on. I will be focussing upon two events in
particular to show this. Each event will present a different form of
eavesdropping being used. The first will be the gulling of Benedick
and Beatrice (Act 2 Sc 3 & Act 3 Sc 1). The second, when the Watch
overhears Borachio and Conrade discussing the plot against Hero (Act 3
Sc 3). Although both events create comedy, the scene with the Watch
seems darker due to other circumstances, such as the shaming of
innocent Hero about to happen. Whenever there is eavesdropping in Much
Ado, it is always there for one main purpose, to give reason for plot
development to proceed. It is a hint, preparing the audience for the
following events about to take place. The eavesdropping during the
gulling of Benedick and Beatrice is different to the one of the Watch.
In the gulling scenes, the other characters are aware that Benedick
and Beatrice are eavesdropping, this is a part of the plan to get the
two together. Where else Borachio and Conrade are unaware that the
Watch is listening and consequently put themselves in a mess.
The story involves two sets of lovers. Benedick and Beatrice, are
almost kept apart by the rebellion and pride of their own hearts.
Eavesdropping is the cause for these two to be brought together. The
plan was the perfect solution to make them give in to their hearts.
They wouldn’t have been capable of working anything out without the
help of the others because of their alike stubborn natures. Claudio
and Hero, the other couple, are destined to be almost torn apart by
the actions of others. Luckily and coincidentally the Watch saves them
from being separated through eavesdropping. The main plot and
sub-plots are drawn together with this device, and to emphasise the
importance of “nothing” from the title, the audience is unable to view
the key episode, where Claudio and Don Pedro witness what they think
is Hero’s unfaithfulness. Instead, we immediately observe the Watch
eavesdropping on Borachio. This is how eavesdropping determines the
narrative line of the play, because without it the play wouldn’t move
on effectively. It is highly ironic that the word “nothing” in the
play’s title is a play on the word “noting” which in Elizabethan slang
refers to “eavesdropping”. This reflects the importance of
eavesdropping, as it is partly in the title of the play, and therefore
must play a big part.
Benedick is the first to be tricked by the other characters (Act 2 Sc
3). He hides from Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio, these characters
know that Benedick is hiding and so they start to lay the plot. They