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Much Ado About Nothing - Comedy and Melancholy

Uploaded by tobyandgabby on Dec 15, 2001

When we discuss the dramatic form of a Shakespearean comedy, we are not only examining the clever or amusing text. Shakespearean comedies are not about drawing laughs from an audience. The form of traditional comedies involve certain aspects that have nothing to do with what is funny, delightful or amusing, including different classes of characters, different settings and different plot structures. Some may be surprised to find such a horrible and unpleasant turn of events within a “comic” setting, like Hero’s overwhelming slander by her fiancé, or Beatrice’s proposition for Benedick to murder his friend.

Shakespeare’s comedies reach a real truth and depth of human existence, which we find with the juxtaposition of merry and melancholy in Much Ado About Nothing. When we are presented a merry, festive setting in Ado., followed by a wholly unexpected and terribly unpleasant shaming of the innocent Hero, we experience a very sharp turn as an audience. This is a truth in human existence: how life can be playful and turn very suddenly serious. In contrasting these humors, Shakespeare creates a more truthful world on stage and can really educate the audience to the nature of the world as well as entertain them.

In this essay we will explore the various melancholic aspects in Ado and their employment in creating emotional complexity and theatrical poignancy. Shakespeare creates a balance of humors that would communicate to an Elizabethan audience. He presents a world where the structure within the play respects the power structure in the universe where everything must be balanced. We will ultimately prove Shakespeare’s desire to create a comic world that is not just lovely and delightful, but surprisingly dark and insightful.

Much Ado About Nothing is set in what is supposed to be a merry time. It is after the war, a time of new marriages proposed, old court ships revived and festivities abound. Claudio’s desire to woo and marry is brought immediately into play, creating an immediately happy setting:

When you went onward in this ended action,
I look’d upon her with a soldier’s eye,
That lik’d, but had a rougher task at hand
Than to drive liking to the name of love
But now I am return’d, and hat war-thoughts
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how soft and fair Hero is,
Saying I lik’d her ere I went to wars. (I. i. 297-305)

Ado. is presented as a play that dealing...

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Uploaded by:   tobyandgabby

Date:   12/15/2001

Category:   Shakespeare

Length:   5 pages (1,193 words)

Views:   1755

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