Much Ado About Nothing - the Importance of Noting Essay

1232 Words Sep 29th, 1999 5 Pages
<center><b>Discuss The Importance Of Noting In Much Ado About Nothing</b></center>
<br>Noting, or observing, is central to many of the ideas in Much Ado About Nothing. The word nothing was pronounced as noting in Elizabethan times, and it seems reasonable to presume that the pun was intended by Shakespeare to signal the importance of observation, spying and eavesdropping in the play. As a plot device, these occurrences propel the action and create humour and tension. The perils of noting incorrectly are portrayed and this leads naturally to the investigation of another major theme, the discrepancy between appearance and reality. Shakespeare uses the problems of illusion, deception and subjectivity of perception to examine the
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Dogberry's insistence on others noting that Conrade called him an ass is especially funny:
<br>"Oh that I had been writ down an ass" (4. 2. 70-71).
<br>The audience enjoys the irony that Dogberry has been "writ down an ass" – by Shakespeare himself. The Watch's inability to reveal what they have correctly noted, however, also adds to the tension of the play. Hero's shame could have been avoided. Noting is one of the plays main preoccupations, and making observation integral to the plot demonstrates and emphasises its importance.
<br>Because noting/observing has such importance in Messina (and, by implication, Elizabethan society), manipulation and deception are used by the dark forces in the play to exercise power and control. Don John is a stock Elizabethan villain whose intention is to harm all those involved in his downfall – especially Claudio. Twice he tries to convince Claudio that Hero favours another. These episodes both involve deception and slander and this malevolence distorts Claudio's perception of the events. Both times Claudio notes incorrectly and his willingness to believe falsehoods and attribute blame – first to beauty ("for beauty is a witch" 2. 1. 135), then to Hero's base nature ("savage sensuality" 4.1. 135) – also point to self-deception about love, honour and women.

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