Explore the Dramatic Significance of Truth and Lies in "Much Ado About Nothing"

Essay by telmjB, December 2006

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The main plot of "Much Ado About Nothing" centres on the lies told about Hero and the deception of Hero's friends and family by Don John and Borachio. As well as this obvious malicious form there are also many other types of deception throughout the play. There are many examples of self deception where characters lie to themselves and will not accept their true actions or feelings (Beatrice and Benedick) and also times when characters unknowingly deceive others, for example, Margaret.

The masked ball at the beginning of the play shows almost every character involved in deceiving others. Although it is all meant in fun it shows how easy it is for one character to lie to another and how casually they are prepared to deceive those around them.

When Antonio is asked if it is him he will not say that is it him and replies, 'to tell you true, I counterfeit him'.

An audience would presume he is only doing this to involve himself in the fun of the ball but the fact that he is prepared to lie so casually provides a warning of things to come. Benedick also pretends he is not himself and lies telling other characters, 'believe me' when they will not accept that he is not himself.

Claudio is the most deceived character in the play. He deceives himself and Don John does everything he can to trick Claudio into believing Hero is unfaithful.

During the masked ball Claudio meets Borachio and Don John and pretends to be Benedick, 'you know me well, I am he'. Don John and Borachio, who are also masked, realise who Claudio is but pretend they think he is Benedick and tell him of Hero's plans to be unfaithful and run off with another. Although there...