Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing: Character Analysis & Description

Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

In this lesson, focus on Claudio's different character traits in ''Much Ado About Nothing'', and discuss how those traits affect the plot, as well as his interactions with other characters.

Claudio's Character

Have you ever seen a reality TV show where everyone is trying to create drama in order to keep themselves entertained at the expense of others?

One of Shakespeare's best known comedies, Much Ado About Nothing is a play based on deception, disguise, and manipulation. Throughout the story, characters push the plot along by creating schemes and ploys aimed at tricking one another.

While some of the schemes are meant to create happy endings, others are crafted to create turmoil. Claudio is a victim of some tumultuous schemes. Let's analyze his character and discuss the ways in which his personality helped create ongoing turmoil throughout the play.

Often portrayed as a tall, dark, handsome young man, Claudio is a Count from Florence who travels to Messina with Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon. It becomes clear throughout the play that Claudio is unconfident, impulsive, and passionate. These traits make him very impressionable, thus an easy target for the schemes of others.

Lack of Confidence

We see Claudio's lack of confidence at the beginning of the play when he confesses his feelings for Hero while speaking with Don Pedro. He worries his feelings will appear too sudden, even though he believes he loved her before leaving for the war. As a result, Don Pedro agrees to speak with Hero and Leonato on Claudio's behalf: ''If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it, And I will break with her and with her father, And thou shalt have her.''

It does not take long for this lack of confidence to creep up again as soon as Don John, Don Pedro's bastard brother, comes around to start some scheming. Don John tells Claudio that Don Pedro is confessing his own love for Hero and plans to marry her that night.

Claudio questions him, ''How know you he loves her?'' And Don John craftily responds, ''I heard him swear his affection.'' Borachio backs up this foul play by saying, ''So did I too, and he swore he would marry her tonight''.

Claudio believes them, and this begins the revelation of his other notable character traits.

Impulsiveness

Claudio has a tendency to act impulsively, especially when it comes to Hero. He acts quickly based on his emotions, and often makes rash decisions without taking time to consider facts or details. This is evident by his decision to quickly woo Hero, and then just as quickly call off his feelings for her and sulk away when he believes Don Pedro has taken her for himself:

Claudio speaks with Benedick about it, he pouts, '' I wish him joy of her'' Benedick says ''Ho! Now you strike like the blind man. / 'Twas the boy that stole your mean, and you'll beat the post'' In other words, it's Don Pedro who did Claudio wrong, yet he's mad at Benedick. Claudio wants to be left alone and simply leaves, ''If it will not be, I'll leave you.''

Claudio again acts impulsively when he decides he will not question if Hero is being unfaithful before their wedding, but instead just assumes what he is seeing is the truth. He quickly decides he will humiliate her rather than trying to figure out what is going on: ''If I see any thing tonight why I should not marry her tomorrow in the congregation, where I should wed there / will I shame her.''

While speaking with Leonato, Claudio continues to speak ill of Hero even though he believes she has died from shock and grief. Then, Claudio quickly switches his tune from hate to love, during the same conversation, as soon as he finds out she is innocent: ''Sweet Hero! Now thy image doth appear / In the rare semblance that I loved it first.''

Passionate

Claudio is all too easy to scheme because of his passions, and his inability to control his emotions or truly assess the situations around him. He is like a hormonal teenager; overjoyed one second, then pouting or throwing tantrums the next.

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