Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespare

Adapted for the Screen and Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Discussion Questions

Scene 1: Two Merry Couples
1. Do Beatrice and Benedick belong together? Why do they constantly seek each other out?

2. What do Hero and Claudio know of each other? What do they love in the other?

3. Examine the pun that Benedick makes on "noting." Since "nothing" in Shakespeare's time was pronounced with a silent H, how is Benedick's observation be relevant to the title?

4. How does Shakespeare contrast the two couples in this scene?

Scene 2: The Villain

1. What motivates the play's villain?

2. Does Shakespeare give him any attractive qualities?

Scene 3: Beatrice

1. What virtues does Beatrice manifest? What flaws?

2. Would any sort of man satisfy her?

3. What advice does she give to Hero?

4. Contrast Beatrice and Hero as they appear in this scene.

Scene 4: Matches Made and Planned

1. Why is Claudio given to jealousy?

2. Why is he at a loss for words?

3. Why does Shakespeare give Beatrice such a prominent role in Claudio and Hero's scene?

4. Why does Claudio not court Hero for himself?

5. What does Don Pedro's proposal to Beatrice add, if anything, to the play? That is, why does Shakespeare include it when it is not strictly necessary to the plot? What does Beatrice's refusal tell us about her?

Scene 5: The Match Executed

1. What is Don Pedro's match-making plan? How does it work? To what passions in Benedick does it appeal?

2. Is Benedick's "conversion" into a lover plausible? On what is it based?

3. What virtues does Benedick manifest in this scene?

4. What virtues does Beatrice manifest?

5. Is their love based on a deception?

Scene 6: The Charge of the Watch

1. Is there any pattern to the ridiculous advice that Dogberry gives to the watch? Why do you think that Shakespeare includes "the charge" in the play?

Scene 7: The Watch in Action
1. How effective is the watch? Does it follow Dogberry's advice?

2. As Borachio admits to Don Pedro in a later scene, "what your wisdoms could not discover, these shallow fools have brought to light." Why does Shakespeare make the watch responsible for "discovering" the villainy of the play? What does it matter that the discovery is by accident?

3. In what way is Dogberry a mean between a silent Don John and an ever-tattling Benedick?

Scene 8: Weddings

1. Why does Leonato come up with this scheme to punish Claudio> Is it appropriate, and just?

2.Why does Claudio agree to marry Leonato's niece before seeing her face? Is he wise to do so?

3. Do Beatrice and Benedick also marry without seeing the whole truth of their situation? Compare their vision of each other with Claudio and Hero's.

3. Do Beatrice and Benedick love "no more than reason"? What is the place of reason in their love?

4. Does the final scene answer Don John's earlier question to Conrad about reason, "what blessing brings it?"

5. Why does the play end with the issue of whether there shall be a dance before or after the wedding?

6. Why does the play end with the reminder of Don John?

7. Why should it be Benedick who devises "brave punishments" for Don John?

Paper Topics
1. How form does courting take in the play? Is this a patriarchal society, in which matches are arranged by fathers?

2. Discuss Hero and Claudio's role in the match between Beatrice and Benedick.

3. Discuss match-making as a communal effort.

4. The watch brings the conflict to a successful resolution. Who else in the play attempts to resolve the conflict, and what sort of resolutions would we then have had? For example, Beatrice? The friar? Why do the nominal rulers, Leonato of Messina, and Don Pedro, of his soldiers, not play a greater role in bringing the play to a successful conclusion?

5. Are Antony and Cleopatra more like Beatrice and Benedick or Claudio and Hero? Explain. Are the two pairs of lovers in the more modern setting of Much Ado more alike than either pair resembles Antony and Cleopatra?

6. Compare and contrast the relationship between love and war in our two films set in World War II (The English Patient and Casablanca), on the one hand, and in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, on the other.
7. Compare and contrast the resolutions of Much Ado About Nothing and Shakespeare in Love.

8. One of the major television networks employed Socrates and Hobbes to discuss contemporary films. Write a script (with dialogue) of their discussion of one of the following films: The English Patient, Casablanca, Shakespeare in Love, and Much Ado About Nothing. Your script should demonstrate that you understand the thought of Hobbes and Socrates (from the Symposium) as well as the film they discuss.

Much Ado Reading

Guide to unit 6

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