Much Ado About Nothing Theme Overview Video

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  • 0:04 Definition of Theme
  • 0:46 Theme of Deception
  • 2:03 Theme of Star-Crossed Lovers
  • 3:04 Theme of Communication
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will examine the themes of deception (both for good and evil), star-crossed lovers, and communication from William Shakespeare's comedic play ''Much Ado About Nothing.''

Definition of Theme

When you're watching 'SpongeBob SquarePants,' you're most likely just enjoying the comedy rather than thinking about the themes. But consider some of the ideas that are explored. Optimism versus pessimism is apparent in the relationship between SpongeBob and Squidward. Mr. Krabs and Plankton introduce themes surrounding greed and envy. Loyalty and friendship are hallmarks of the relationship between Patrick and SpongeBob. If you look under the surface, you can find the messages the writer is trying to deliver. The theme of the story describes what the story is about. Frequently, there is more than one theme and they are not explicitly stated, but are veiled within the text. Let's look at some of the themes from William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

Theme of Deception

Deception is a tool that is used both for good and for bad. In Act I, Don Pedro decides to help out Claudio by tricking Hero. Don Pedro says, 'I will assume thy part in some disguise / And tell fair Hero I am Claudio, / And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart / And take her hearing prisoner with the force / And strong encounter of my amorous tale. / Then after to her father will I break, / And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.' While the plan works and Hero falls for Claudio, the deception was not without problems as Claudio, with some prompting from Don John, worries that Don Pedro is trying to take her for himself.

Benedick and Beatrice are both deceived by their friends who recognize a spark between them that they both deny. Benedick's friends arrange for him to overhear them, saying that Beatrice has feelings for him, while Beatrice's friends arrange for her to hear them saying the same about him. Their deception works and results in a love match.

Each of these represents a time that deception was used for good, but Don John's character has other intentions. Don John arranges for Borachio and Margaret to make out in Hero's room so that Claudio will see their shadow and think that Hero is cheating on him. Claudio is quick to believe the worst about his bride-to-be and ends up destroying her reputation with his accusations.

Theme of Star-Crossed Lovers

Another theme of this play surrounds star-crossed lovers. On one hand, they seem to be perfect for one another, but something always gets in the way. Claudio and Hero seem to really be in love, but they have terrible communication skills. The first clue that this couple would have problems is that Claudio has to have Don Pedro step in for him to tell Hero how he feels, but when Don John tricks him into thinking Hero is unfaithful, he doesn't talk to her about it, but confronts her publicly at their would-be wedding. Claudio says, 'All you that see her, that she were a maid, / By these exterior shows? But she is none: She knows the heat of a luxurious bed; Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.' Hero is so ashamed that she fakes her death to avoid facing public humiliation.

Beatrice and Benedick also have a rough start to their relationship. Their sarcastic banter is somewhat playful, but definitely a problem. Benedick tells Don Pedro he would do just about anything 'rather than hold three words' conference with this harpy.' However, with some help from their friends, they end up finding their way to each other.

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