Firstly, Happy Birthday William Shakespeare! I’m a few hours late but not by U.S. time ;)
I thought an appropriate way to celebrate would be to gush about how much I enjoyed Much Ado About Nothing, which I read for the first time last week :) After reading and posting about Macbeth, it was nice to dive into something much more light-hearted and uplifting.
Like several of Shakespeare’s comedies, Much Ado follows the trials and tribulations of two couples; Claudio and Hero, the sweet-tempered ones, and Benedick and Beatrice, the witty ones who always seem to be at odds with each other. Although there is one main conflict that seemed rather malicious, we automatically know that since it’s a comedy, we have no need to fear any worse case scenarios. Spoiler alert: there’s a happy ending.
The things I enjoyed the most about this play were Shakespeare’s quippy one-liners, of course, but also the characters, who very much reveled in teasing and playfully tricking one another. One of my favorite scenes was Act II Scene III, when Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato, knowing that Benedick is hiding nearby, create this elaborate lie that Beatrice is in love with him. Immediately afterwards, Hero, Margaret, and Ursula discuss the same lie while Beatrice is eavesdropping, and by the middle of the third act, our two witty rivals are smitten.
“Therefore let Benedick, like covered fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly.
It were a better death than die with mocks,
Which is as bad as die with tickling.” Hero, Act III scene I
( I just loved the death by tickling line!)
There were several smile-inducing moments for me in Much Ado About Nothing. I’m a sucker for those Pride and Prejudice type romances, and I couldn’t find any flaws in Benedick and Beatrice as their relationship went from bitter rivals to loyal lovers. In other Shakespearean comedies, I feel that the romantic relationships are shallow; Benedick and Beatrice’s love felt much more plausible and long-lasting to me.
Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
I had been eagerly wanting to watch this recent film adaptation by Joss Whedon since it’s release in 2012, but of course I wanted to actually read the play first. The film itself is word-for-word Shakespearean dialogue so if you haven’t read Much Ado or you aren’t very familiar with the Shakespearean tongue, you may have some difficulties in following along. BUT, many of the actors do a phenomenal job of reeling you in, even if you don’t know what the heck is going on.
For starters, Nathan Fillion (from Firefly and Castle), plays the moronic Dogberry (essentially a detective/sheriff who thinks too highly of himself despite the fact that half the time he doesn’t even know what he’s saying) and he had me laughing out loud so often, especially during this little coat mix-up scene:
He did a great job at portraying the pure ridiculousness of his character.
Another scene that really moved me was the almost-wedding scene, when Claudio outs Hero in front of all the guests as being unfaithful. All of the actors were very convincing, and I felt more saddened by that scene after watching the film than I had from simply reading the play.
Also, after finishing the movie I began listening to this song from the soundtrack on loop. The lyrics are all Shakespeare, but the tune is catchy and fun to sing along to :)
I haven’t seen Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 version of Much Ado About Nothing, but it is on my to be watched list. It features Emma Thompson so I have no doubt that I’ll enjoy it.
There you have it! Hope this post encouraged you to read Much Ado About Nothing! And if you have already read it, what did you most enjoy?