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
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.