Much Ado About Nothing

Trickery and Deception: A Dish Best Served by Shakespeare

"Though those that are betrayed Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor Stands in worse case of woe" (Cymbeline, III.iv). Shakespeare's carefully crafted world of deception and trickery within Much Ado About Nothing thrives on deceitful characters-both malicious and virtuous-whose manipulation of information affords them control and power that they would otherwise not enjoy. While hidden identities and meanings are achieved through trickery by nearly all of the principle characters, the motivations behind these deceptions vary from Claudio's search for love to Don John's evil plot to gain a fortune. Benedick and Beatrice's beguiling courtship based on false statements, Claudio and Hero's betrothal founded initially on a falsehood, and Don Pedro's plot to prevent said marriage through trickery allows Shakespeare to demonstrate the role of deceit in the world of play and comment on theater in general.

Benedick and Beatrice conceal their true feelings for one another by hiding behind masks of witty banter and stinging insults. Even when Benedick is not nearby, Beatrice takes refugee in her criticism of him, remarking to a messenger that Benedick "will hang upon [Claudio] like a...

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