There's a storm brewing, gathering force. Its dark clouds swirl aggressively, closing in on the sun, cornering it. Its fury is tangible, waiting to burst forth and unleash itself upon the land, to drench everything with its frigid precipitation. Mirth falls into shadow. An awesome and fearful spectacle, to be sure, but also one compulsory to life; it maintains that crucial balance between order and chaos, quenching the thirst of the world, and keeping things from getting too dry.
Just below the surface of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing", one of his more prominent comedies, there is a deep well of meaning most markedly un-comedic in nature. In a first reading, small rivulets seep through the felicitous framework, alerting the reader to that which is dammed up behind; towards the end of the play, it feels like there is but a layer of comedy holding us above unknown depths.
Perhaps it would be easier to simply walk ahead and ignore that which lies beneath, but do so might end in disaster, for it would entail missing a substantial and, I feel, part of this piece which is critical for a number of reasons.
Most will probably have, at this juncture, a rather vague sense of the concept of which I speak. Perhaps some demonstration would reinforce it. Pick, at random, any passage from Act 4 onwards. It will probably look something like this excerpt, extracted from the very beginning of Act 5.
Leonato: Ã¢ÂÂ¦But there is no such man. For, brother, men Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief Which they themselves not feel; but, tasting it, Their counsel turns to passion, which before Would give preceptial medicine to rage, Fetter strong madness in a silken thread, Charm ache with air and agony with words.