"Life is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those who feel," said by Horace Walpole, meaning life can be a comedy if you think it through, but a tragedy for those who only feel the presence. This quote resembles the whole theme of "love" in the play Much Ado about Nothing, written by William Shakespeare, in just one sentence. This play takes place in Messina, where two stories of romantic love between two couples Hero and Claudio, Beatrice and Benedick each encountering different journeys on trying to marry their love. In this play, Shakespeare tries to portray a clearer happy ending by changing how reader's feel through the roles between comedy and tragedy, how the theme of "game of love" is effected by the combination, and actually making a good debate whether the "happy ending" is convincing.
To begin with, Shakespeare depicts a clearer happy ending by changing roles between comedy and tragedy.
In Shakespeare's plays, comedy means there is a happy marriage which eventually leads to a joyful ending, but on the other hand, tragedy means there is death which will result in a heartrending ending. It is in this play that Shakespeare actually combines comedy and tragedy together to give us a twist and sudden change on reader's mood. For instance, a comedy in this play will be where Claudio is granted the permission to marry Hero and with Leonato asking him to "take [care] of [his] daughter, and with her [his] fortune", then he says, "[H]is grace hath made the match, and an grace say Amen to it" (2.1.270-273). With Leonato accepting to let Claudio marry his daughter Hero, this resembled that Claudio will definitely be married to Hero unless he turned it down, because back then woman has no choice and marriage is often decided upon parents decisions. On the other hand, Shakespeare tries to make a clearer happy ending by adding a tragedy to the play as the climax, which include Claudio turning Hero down at the church in public and disgrace her like what he sees on the deception made by Don John. Hero is "left for deadÃ¢ÂÂ¦ secretlyÃ¢ÂÂ¦ and publish that she is dead indeed" (4.1.209-211). The fake death use in the quote is a paraphrase for Shakespeare to resemble real death as a tragedy. After no other choices, Claudio agree to Leonato's option, yet trick, to marry his brother's daughter (Hero), at the wedding Claudio wanted his bride to "give [him her] hand before this holy friar, [he is her] husband, if she likes [him]" (5.4.59-60), the bride then unmasks with Claudio gasping, "Another Hero" (5.4.63). Claudio never thought it will never be Hero; this shows how they come together and clearly illustrates the happy ending. This is where Shakespeare comes in, using the combination of comedy and tragedy to give his readers a clearer image of the happy ending.
In addition, the mixing of comedy and tragedy together effects the theme "game of love" and gives the reader an idea of how the happy ending comes about. In the beginning of the play, when Prince hears about how much Claudio loves Hero, he promises to "woo for [Claudio] to obtain her, [he] will join with [Claudio] to disgrace her" (184.108.40.206). In this play, Prince just likes to be a matchmaker, pairing people up with whom they love, thinking that love is just a game, and not thinking what a tragedy it will cause to Claudio. Moreover, another use of game of love in the play is when Claudio turns Hero down and Beatrice wants Benedick to "kill Claudio" (4.1.294). This clearly depicts the game of love because by using the relationship she has with Benedick, she forces Benedick to go to Claudio and fight him. Leonato similarly uses the same technique on Claudio for what he has done "he could not be [Leonato's] son-in-law, be yet [Leonato's] nephew: [to marry Leonato's] brother's daughter" (5.1.288-289). The brother's daughter stated in this quote was actually Hero, and it was part of Leonato's plan of the game of love somewhat like a payback for what he has done- to let him feel remorseful. Shakespeare combined comedy and tragedy to alter reader's moods, which clearly affect the happy ending through the use of the theme "game of love.
Furthermore, Shakespeare illustrates a clear happy ending towards the end of the book, but is it convincing enough even after the comedy and tragedy were merged together in this play. With the entrance of Claudio to the church on the second ceremony (after Hero's fictitious death) the action proceeds with slightly stiff formality towards this ceremony, he said, "I'll hold my mind, were she an Ethiope" (5.4.39). This obviously shows even though he confirms his resolve to go through with the arrangement, but is hardly enthusiastic about the wedding because Don John has hurt him deep enough. From all the things that just happen in Messina are concluded in a sentence by Antonio, he said "Well, I am glad that all things sort so well" (5.4.7). The first colloquial "Well" and last happy-ending, abverbial "well" neatly enfolds "all things" about which there has been so much "ado" in the preceding scenes which really makes the reader wonder if the happy ending is really that convincing. The most important of all is that after a happy successful marriage, Messenger came back and said, "Don John taken flight and brought with armed man back to Messina" (5.4.128-129). Shakespeare end it with a successful marriage and with the comeback of Don John really leaves his reader clueless of what is about to come. In the end, the ending really makes a good debate for his reader whether the play is a comedy or a tragedy.
To conclude, Shakespeare is trying to depict an obvious happy ending. He tries to show the ending by changing reader's mood through the change of roles between comedy and tragedy, how the combination effect the theme "game of love", and making a good debate for whether the "happy ending" is convincing. For Shakespeare the idea of a happy ending might not be one that will last forever, because of how devastating a tragedy will be. However, Shakespeare is trying to tell his readers that whenever there is a tragedy it does not always mean that there will not be a happy ending.
Shakespeare, William. Much Ado About Nothing. Ed.
Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. The New FolgerLibrary Shakespeare. New York: Washington Square,1993.