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: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Much Ado About Nothing published in 1995.).
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
...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)