Much Ado About Nothing Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Much Ado About Nothing: Metaphor Analysis

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"Much deserved on his part and equally remembered by
Don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing, in the figure of a lamb,
the feats of a lion."
--Act 1, Scene 1: Messenger to Leonato
Don Pedro is introduced to the audience as a warrior who has truly distinguished himself on the battlefield.  Although he has a gentle demeanor, he can be vicious with his enemies.
"What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?"
--Act 1, Scene 1: Benedick to Beatrice
By referring to Beatrice as Lady Disdain, Benedick automatically identifies her as the typical Shakespearean spinster who will be lovestruck by the end of the play.  He also clarifies to the audience that a war of wits rages between the two.
"But now I am return'd and that war-thoughts
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is."
--Act 1, Scene 1: Claudio to Don Pedro
Claudio compares his mind to a large, vacant house.  Previously, those rooms (his brain) were occupied with thoughts of war and glory.  Now that the war is over, however, Claudio's mind is reeling with love for Hero.
"I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in
his grace, and it better fits my blood."
--Act 1, Scene 3: Don John to Conrade
Don John explains that will not reduce himself to a servile sycophant to get into society's graces; he would rather show his true, villainous character than hide in his brother's shadow.
"Why, he is the prince's jester: a very dull fool;
only his gift is in devising impossible slanders."
--Act 2, Scene 1: Beatrice to Benedick (in disguise)
Beatrice unwittingly complains about Benedick to the man himself.  Her comparison of Benedick to a fool exemplifies her love of single life.  Thus, much of the comedy of the play revolves about a transformation of her character into a hopeless romantic.
"Therefore, all hearts in love use their own tongues;
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood."
--Act 2, Scene 1: Claudio to himself
Claudio has learned from the prevaricator Don John that Don Pedro has wooed Hero for himself.  This is completely false, but it sets Claudio on a mental rampage against women, friends and love.  For the first time in his life, Claudio has felt the sting of spurned love and a traitorous friend.
"Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be
medicinable to me: I am sick in displeasure to him,
and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges
evenly with me."
--Act 2, Scene 2: Don John to Borachio
Don John is an evil man at heart; thus, he delights in anything that will mar the happiness of his brother.
"The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
Cut with her golden oars on the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait:
So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
Is couched in the woodbine coverture."
--Act 3, Scene 1: Ursula to Hero
Ursula compares Beatrice to a fish in a pond, unaware that it has swallowed treacherous bait that will cost it its life.  In this case, Beatrice will lose her life as a bachelor and exchange it for married life.
"Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.
There, Leonato, take her back again:
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
She's but the sign and semblance of her honour."
--Act 4, Scene 1: Claudio to Leonato
By referring to Hero as a piece of rotten fruit, Claudio implies that what was once sweet and pure is now spoiled and disagreeable.  Just as Eve was tempted in Eden by fruit that turned out to be evil, Claudio was first attracted and then repulsed by the "impure" Hero.
"Good morrow, masters; put your torches out:
The wolves have prey'd; and look, the gentle day,
Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
Dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey."
--Act 5, Scene 3: Don Pedro to Claudio et al
Although this metaphor has no direct significance to the action sequence in the play, it is a beautiful example of Shakespeare's incredible skill as a writer.


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