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?
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
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.