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Finding Theme in Much Ado About Nothing

Finding Theme in Much Ado About Nothing

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Finding Theme in Much Ado About Nothing

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  1. Finding Theme in Much Ado About Nothing

  2. Identify a theme: When identifying theme, please use this sentence frame: “In William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, one theme is __________________________________.” Sample: “In William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, one theme is the power of language to simultaneously veil and reveal the truth.”

  3. Provide Textual Evidence: In the opening scene of the play, after hearing word that the troop of soldiers will be returning, Beatrice jokingly asks the messenger, “I pray you, is SigniorMountantoreturn’d from the wars or no?” (1.1). This line is significant in that we see, for the first time, the way in which Beatrice speaks of Benedick in a veiled way. She refers to him by a name that is not his own, and speaks of him in a tone of disregard. Yet, while she is speaking unkindly of him, it is noteworthy that her first spoken line in the play is a reference demonstrating concern for her “enemy.” This is the first example of how language can simultaneously hide and reveal the truth. Format: • Introduce textual evidence, explain where in the play it comes, briefly set the scene • Integrate the textual evidence smoothly into your own sentence. • Cite the act and the scene number • Explain how this quote demonstrates/proves your claim. • Find two pieces of textual evidence to prove your point.

  4. After all soldiers and members of Leonato’s household go in to dine, Benedick and Claudio remain behind to talk. Benedick gives his opinion of Hero (“I do not like her” [1.1]), and then makes a reference to Beatrice. He tells Claudio that if she “were not possessed with a fury, exceeds [Hero] as much in beauty as the first of May doth the last of December” (1.1). Claudio had never mentioned Beatrice in the conversation, it is Benedick who brings up her name. While referring to her bad temper, he also states if it weren’t for that, she would be much more beautiful than Hero. As with Beatrice referencing him, Benedick brings mention of her into a conversation where she previously had no place. Yet, as Beatrice did, he brings up her name to speak negatively of her, but then he compliments her. Benedick tries to veil the truth of his attraction to her through an insult, yet the very fact that he speaks of her reveals the very thing he tries to hide.

  5. Connect the theme to the world outside the text Language is one of the most powerful tools humans have. Language is the best way to communicate to others how we feel, what we think, what we want…Language reveals our truths when we speak clearly, but even when we try to deceive, the way in which we speak can betray us. The topics that we introduce in conversation reveal what we want to talk about—and what we want to talk about is what we care about. This is particularly true when we talk of people. To hear a high school senior with careful nonchalance ask a question about the new girl in school is to know that he is interested in her. In Much Ado About Nothing, is it through Beatrice and Benedick’s language that we learn how they really feel about each other. Many times for these two characters, it is not just what they say but how they say it that reveals who they are. This tendency of language in Shakespeare’s play to simultaneously work to conceal and reveal truth is something common to us all.