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Different types of texts incorporate key ideas through significant characters and important events to demonstrate the nature of humanity. Much Ado About Nothing is a play (1598) written by William Shakespeare. Some concepts that are identified in this play include deception and gender. Shakespeare explores deception, and how it can make or break relationships. Additionally, he includes the expectations of each gender and how it can lead to inclinations and prejudice. Shakespeare incorporates these ideas in the play by associating them with the plot of the play.

Disguising as someone else is a form of trickery; and in this play, it is used in the hope of starting a relationship. Shakespeare creates this when Claudio plots to use Don Pedro (pretending to be Claudio) to proclaim his love for her, “I will assume thy part in some disguise and tell fair Hero I am Claudio, and in her bosom, I’ll unclasp my heart”. Don Pedro is planning to disguise himself as Claudio, and then try to woo her under his name so that she will think that it is Claudio. This reinforces the fact that relationships can be affected by forms of trickery.

Deceit can be used in many ways and forms; one form of trickery could include manipulating someone into believing that they are loved. Shakespeare incorporated in this play; specifically, when Don Pedro’s plan was to be executed on Beatrice and Benedick, even though they appear to show nothing but hatred for each other, “…but most wonderful that she should dote on Signor Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.”. Don Pedro explains to Leonato that Beatrice secretly shows affection for the Signor, which tricks Benedick into believing that she loves him. Due to their plan’s success, Benedick’s feelings for Beatrice have started to develop into love for her.

Deception is a prominent theme in this play, and it illustrates how it can affect relationships negatively. Shakespeare creates deception in the play when Don John decides to make an evil plan to break up Claudio and Hero’s marriage, “Go but with me tonight, you shall see her chamber window entered even the night before her wedding day… but it would be better fit your honor to change your mind”. By using an authoritative and powerful tone, Don John speaks with certainty to show that he is serious and that he won’t stop until he gets what he wants; revenge. This showed Claudio and Don Pedro that he was not messing around, luring them into the trap. Because of this, Claudio’s opinion of Hero is split in two, and their relationship is torn apart.

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In the play, Shakespeare investigates gender (women specifically) and subtly shows that men had the upper hand in decisions, jobs, actions, etc. Hero is the embodiment of a typical woman from a wealthy family during Shakespeare’s time. Before her meet-up with Don Pedro at the masked ball, her father asks her to accept Don Pedro’s proposal, “Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince does solicit you in that kind, you know your answer”. Don Pedro’s hand in marriage is already accepted under Leonato’s instructions instead of Hero having her own opinion or say about the situation.

In society, women needed to stay loyal until death. This is reinforced by the fact that Hero had to obey, even though she may strongly disagree, “God give me joy to wear it! For my heart is exceeding heavy,”. The sad tone which is created by words like ‘give me joy’ and ‘exceedingly heavy’ expresses the fact that Hero is unsure about this decision but knows that she is powerless.

As stated before, men were seen as the superior gender in Shakespeare’s time. This is seen in the play when Claudio rejects Hero on their wedding day because of her alleged affair, “Give not this rotten orange to your friend; She’s but the sign and semblance of her honor,”. Shakespeare’s use of the words ‘rotten orange’ could also be describing her reputation (as well as an insult); also, Claudio speaks about Hero as if she is an object and not a person. This highlights the fact that women were not seen as equals to men.

The ideas and concepts in Much Ado About Nothing (which are deception and gender) are used through key events and characters throughout the play’s storyline. They help to demonstrate how fragile relationships can be and also how gender affects how someone is treated, which is all a part of the typical human nature. 

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