Much Ado About Nothing

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Themes and Colors
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Language, Perception and Reality Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Much Ado About Nothing, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Love, in Much Ado About Nothing, is always involved with tricks, games and disguises. Every step in romance takes place by way of masquerade. Hero is won for Claudio by Don Pedro in disguise. Benedick and Beatrice are brought together through an elaborate prank. Claudio can be reconciled with Hero only after her faked death. Altogether, these things suggest that love—like a play or masquerade—is a game based on appearances, poses and the manipulation of…

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Much Ado About Nothing constantly compares the social world—masquerade balls, witty banter, romance and courtship—with the military world. War of wit and love are compared to real wars in a metaphor that extends through every part of the play. The rivalry of Benedick and Beatrice is called a “merry war,” and the language they use with and about each other is almost always military: as when Benedick complains that “[Beatrice] speaks poniards, and every word…

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Much Ado About Nothing dwells on the way that language and communication affect our perception of reality. It is important to remember nothing (besides marriage) actually happens in the play—there are no fights, deaths, thefts, journeys, trials, illnesses, sexual encounters, losses or gains of wealth, or anything else material. All that changes is the perception that these things have happened, or that they will happen: that Hero is no longer a virgin, or that she…

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For the characters of Much Ado About Nothing, romantic experiences are always connected to issues of freedom and shame. If dignity comes from having a strong and free will, then love, desire and marriage are a threat to it. This is the position taken by most of the characters. Benedick, for example, compares the married man to a tame, humiliated animal. The events of the play confirm this position on love and dignity…

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