What does ?Much Ado About Nothing? reveal to modern readers about Elizabethan attitudes to love, marriage and issues of gender? ?Much Ado About Nothing? is one of Shakespeare?s romantic comedies, which shows us a world, which is courtly, leisurely and generally good-natured. However the saying, ?The course of true love never runs smooth,? applies, since there is much scheming and heartache before the two central couples are finally reconciled in love.
The play was written in about 1598 at a time when the Elizabethan era was on the brink of becoming the ?golden age? of English literature with Shakespeare, Edmond Spenser and Philip Sydney playing major roles in this Renaissance. In its day ?Much Ado About Nothing? would have seemed quite experimental in that Shakespeare blends two different genres, high comedy and melodrama using both prose and verse within the same play. The lovers use verse, but prose is used for ?the ordinary? characters and also for the verbal sparring between Beatrice and Benedick.
We can see the difference when we hear Claudio speaking of his love in verse and then Benedick telling of his love in prose. The former seems very conventional and almost unconvincing, whereas Benedick pouring his heart out using ?natural speech? leaves us in no doubt about the depth of his feelings.
It is based loosely on an Italian tale of 1554 and has many common elements of this type of play such as romance, comedy and malevolent intrusion. Throughout Shakespeare?s life he wrote mainly about the two themes of love and war. Of these two, love is obviously something that the audiences today will have experienced and we feel an instinctive sympathy for the characters as they suffer the pains of love before eventually finding true love. The distinctions in these two styles of play...