Paper Topics for "Much Ado About Nothing"

William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is a comedic play about two pairs of lovers in Sicily during the 16th century. While the play ultimately has a happy ending, the characters must deal with societal politics, shame and honor. Papers on the classic play offer analytical insights into the characters and their actions as well as the relevance of the themes in today’s society.

Shakespearean Social Networking

In Shakespeare’s time, the letter "H" in the word “nothing” was silent. The resulting word, “noting,” referred to the act of noticing or overhearing. The characters in the play did a lot of noting as they gossiped, eavesdropped and intentionally mislead one another. For a paper, write about the consequences of the characters’ noting. Indicate if the behavior was beneficial or harmful, and how the characters used noting as a tool to get what they wanted. Compare the noting in “Much Ado About Nothing” to the gossip, misunderstandings, deceiving and “eavesdropping” that can occur in social media.

The Relevance of Love

While none of the characters in “Much Ado About Nothing” actively look for love, the play ends with marriages. Claudio and Hero, for example, only know each other for an instant before they marry. In a paper, discuss the different ways in which the characters show any type of love, not just romantic love. Compare the love between Claudio and Hero, and Benedict and Beatrice. Discuss instances of love in today’s society that are incidental, result from the formal duty of marriage and come from the act of forgiveness.

A Game of Lies and Deceit

The protagonists and antagonists in “Much Ado About Nothing” equally lie and use deceit throughout the play. In a paper, write about how the characters use and respond to deceit, lies and manipulation. Describe any of the characters who view the deception as an offense or a morally wrong act. Indicate if you think using lies to solve a problem would work in real life, as it did in the play. Shakespeare suggests a person like Don John may be so deceitful because he’s naturally bad, and there is such a thing as a good deception as long as it benefits the greater good. Write about whether you agree or disagree with the playwright and give reasons why.

Words Speak Louder than Actions

Some of Shakespeare’s plays are violent because of swordfights and suicides. The violence in “Much Ado About Nothing” mainly comes from the characters’ words. Benedict, for example, says that Beatrice’s words are like daggers. In a paper, give examples of how the characters in the play use words to intentionally hurt one another. Write what you think Shakespeare’s reason was for having the characters use violent language. Provide examples of how others use speech as a form of violence today.

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