Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare Analysis


In a society where gender inequality exists as prominent and widely accepted, Don John is not at fault for Hero’s shunning. In accordance with the prevalence of misogyny, Don Pedro and Claudio fail to acknowledge Don John’s undermining motives, which leaves no opportunity for rebuttal from Hero in response to Claudio’s blind trust.

During Shakephere’s time, misogyny was a familiar and embraced concept. As Benedick, Don Pedro, and Balthasar prepare to serenade Hero at her window, Balthasar sings a song directing women to;

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,

Men were deceivers ever, 

One foot in sea and one on shore,

To one thing constant never. 

Then sigh not so, but let them go, 

And be you blithe and bonny, 

Converting all your sounds of woe 

Into Hey, nonny nonny. (Shakespeare 2.3.59)

The notion that women should be the ones to change rather than men demonstrates how men believe women to preside as an inferior being. In Balthasar’s song, he sings about women needing to forgive their partner while men continue to act on sexual desires. The unfair treatment reveals the ingrained belief of the superiority of men because relationships have no consideration for women’s feelings. At the time, the tone and presentation of the song is also seen as indifferent and sung casually. If the roles reverse, a cheating woman would certainly be held accountable for her actions and frowned upon as Hero was. Due to communal influence and traditions at the time of Much Ado About Nothing, the citizens of Messina were raised to view unfair treatment of women as conventional. While customs of the time play a large role in Hero’s downfall, the preliminary cause of hero’s shunning and lack of suspicion is equally relevant. 

Claudio and Don Pedro initially upset Don John, creating and fueling Don John’s resentment. Emotions from Don John’s failed overthrow of Don Pedro, primarily caused by Claudio’s loyalty to Don Pedro, made Don John feel he is only “... trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage” (Shakespeare 1.3.25-27). The emphasis on the word “muzzle” conveys Don John’s overwhelming feeling of imprisonment, which is stirred by the fact that he and Don Pedro are not viewed as equals. 

Furthermore, Borachio shares Don Pedro’s plan to woo Hero for Claudio. Don John plots to sabotage the wedding of Hero and Claudio as a way of seeking revenge, because “That young start-up hath all the glory of my overthrow. If I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way” (Shakespeare 1.3.52-53). Don John’s urge to retaliate is prompted by the actions of Don Pedro and Claudio. Don John feels overlooked. The “young start-up”, referring to Claudio, came to Don Pedro’s aid, lessening the chances of Don John’s ascent to power. Don John’s resentment continues to swell as Don Pedro and Claudio gain from Don John’s loss. If Don Pedro and Claudio had doubted Don John’s intentions, Hero would have not suffered the consequences. While Don John’s growing bitterness towards an incognizant Don Pedro and Claudio heavily influenced Hero’s situation, Claudio’s impulsive certainty in Don John’s mendacious statements are an additional factor.

Claudio did not hesitate to trust Don John’s lies, ignoring Hero’s perspective. Don Pedro, according to Don John, had the intent of stealing Hero’s affections. Claudio immediately trusts Don John and believes “... the Prince woos for himself. Friendship is constant in all other things Save in the office and affairs of love. Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues. Let every eye negotiate for itself And trust no agent, for beauty is a witch” (Shakespeare 2.1.145-150). The fact that Claudio trusts Don John, knowing his nefarious ways demonstrates Claudio’s inability to think for himself. Simultaneously, Claudio exhibits an initial and relentless suspicion in his closest friends, disregarding Don John. Later on, a similar situation occurs where Hero is believed to have cheated on Claudio, who believes Don John once again. Hero explains the truth only to have Claudio dismiss her and shun Hero, reinforcing gender inequality. Claudio’s hastiness contributes to the unfortunate events Hero endured.

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