Much Ado About Nothing: Theme Analysis
Although Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's comical plays, it still contains important themes. One of the most prominent themes in the play is that of star-crossed lovers. At first, Hero and Claudio seem to be the perfect couple. They fell in love at first sight and are both very popular in society. Trouble brews, however, when the villainous Don John plots to slander the innocent Hero. Claudio mistakes another woman engaged in licentious activities to be Hero and is stunned and enraged at Hero's deceit. Thus, much of the play involves people trying to either assert Hero's innocence or break off the marriage. Hero and Claudio are eventually happily reunited and do not meet the tragic death of the similarly lovelorn Romeo and Juliet.
Benedick and Beatrice also fit the theme of star-crossed lovers. Once the audience learns about their war of wits, they seem to be absolute opposites in character. With the help of some matchmaking friends, however, Beatrice and Benedick fall in love, against all odds. As Hero and Claudio's relationship falls apart, Benedick and Beatrice grow closer together. Shakespeare's transformation of two sour bachelors into romantic lovers makes Much Ado About Nothing a truly enjoyable and comical play.
A second theme in the play is that of misidentification. Don Pedro erroneously believes that his evil brother Don John deserves a second chance. He does not see the truly malicious character of his brother, which is the catalyst for all the trouble in the play. Furthermore, the maid Margaret is misidentified as Hero. Claudio mistakenly assumes that Hero's sweet and innocent nature is a false front to her licentious deeds. Finally, Benedick and Beatrice do not see each other's true character until they fall in love. Under the veil of a war of words, each believes the other to be a fool, when the opposite is true.
A third theme in Much Ado About Nothing is human nature. Much like the popular contemporary show "Seinfeld," Shakespeare's play is not moral or about particularly important topics. Instead, Shakespeare captures the essence of human folly and joy in one short play. Much Ado About Nothing has comedy, romance, suspense, action and a lot of drama twisted into several hundred lines of verse. In the end, however, everyone is happy and not a lot has changed, save a few marriages. Thus, Shakespeare shows the reader that although the play is enjoyable and witty, it really is not a very important piece of literature because of its subject matter. The play is important because it shows us that life itself is similarly enjoyable and foolish---our lives are "much ado about nothing."