Much Ado About Nothing

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Nothing Symbol Analysis

Nothing Symbol Icon
The title of Much Ado About Nothing was originally a double-entendre. Elizabethans pronounced the word “nothing,” in the same way as the word “noting.” Both of these meanings are important. First, most of the action in the play is based on nothing. The drama is not based on actual events—actual things that have happened—but rather on mistaken perceptions: Hero is never really unfaithful, Hero is never really dead, Benedick and Beatrice do not really love each other (at first), and Don Pedro is not really courting Hero for himself. What really drives the action of the play is that characters are noting these nothings. The double-entendre of nothing/noting alludes to one of the major themes of the play, that perceptions, even wrong ones, can change reality. Noting nothing makes it something.

Nothing Quotes in Much Ado About Nothing

The Much Ado About Nothing quotes below all refer to the symbol of Nothing. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Much Ado About Nothing published in 1995.
Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

“Note this before my notes; There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.”

Related Characters: Balthazar (speaker)
Related Symbols: Nothing
Page Number: 2.3.56-57
Explanation and Analysis:

Don Pedro, Leonato, Claudio, and Balthazar have entered, causing Benedick (who was soliloquizing about marriage moments earlier) to hide behind some trees. The group notices him hiding, but they pretend not to.

Don Pedro asks Balthazar to play music, and he agrees, but not before punning on nothing, noting, and musical notes. This pun recurs throughout the play and even in its title: chaos is caused because characters keep noting (noticing) nothings (lies and tricks). Balthazar says, essentially, notice this before my musical notes, there's not (another note pun) a musical note of mine that's worth listening to (noting) / worth anything (nothing).

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Much Ado About Nothing quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire Much Ado About Nothing LitChart as a printable PDF.
Much ado about nothing.pdf.medium

Nothing Symbol Timeline in Much Ado About Nothing

The timeline below shows where the symbol Nothing appears in Much Ado About Nothing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 3
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Language, Perception and Reality Theme Icon
...him. At Don Pedro’s urging, Balthazar plays some music. Before beginning to play, Balthazar says: “Note this before my notes; There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.” (2.3.55)... (full context)