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Act IV of “Much Ado About Nothing” is Extremely Crucial to the Play

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In this act, Claudio tells the congregation of his wedding with Hero, that Hero has been unfaithful. This all happens because of Borachio’s plan. Claudio and Hero fell in love at first sight, after Claudio came home from war. Their relationship develops and they decide to get married; however, Don John plots to see this undone. The Watch hear about this plot and arrest Borachio and Conrade but do not successfully alert Leonarto’s house before the wedding. Also in this important scene there is a development in the relationship of Benedict and Beatrice. At the wedding the couple declare there love for each other and to prove his love, Beatrice tells him to ‘kill Claudio’. Hero is declared dead to save her pride.

All the main characters assembled for the wedding. This is a way that Shakespeare shows us it is a crucial scene of the play. It is the only time that all the main characters are on stage so we can tell something important is going to happen. Claudio has lost his trust that he had in Hero at the start of the play because of what Don John has told him about Hero’s unfaithfulness. When the wedding began Claudio didn’t look at all happy, or how he should on his wedding day. When the Friar started the vows he answered in disguise like in this quote, ‘You come hither, my lord to marry this lady?’ asked the Friar, ‘no’ answered Claudio. Claudio’s answer is totally different to that of Hero’s, as she just says ‘I do.’ In this he has used two meanings as if he is masking the truth.

The denunciation of Hero is done in a sly way. When the Friar asks if Hero if there is any reasons she would not be able to get married to Count Claudio and she replies with none. When he asks Leonarto he also replies with none, from this Claudio says, ‘o, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they to.’ After this Claudio asks the Friar to leave the service to him. Claudio asks Leonarto is he gives his daughter to him, Leornato obviously agrees. At this point Claudio is pretending to be fine and being pleasant to Leonarto. In the next few lines this all changes as he tells Leornato to take his daughter back. The Count then denounces Hero saying how she has been unfaithful. In this Don Pedro sticks up for Claudio and instantly most people, even her own farther believe it. The only people that don’t are the Friar, Beatrice and Benedict. It quite shocking how quickly everyone believes them. Romantic love is destroyed.

All the male characters stick together in this scene, apart from Benedict who instead of following them, which I’m sure he would of in the previous scenes stands up for his decision. This of course is of Hero’s innocence. This shows a change in Benedict that has only just occurred. I think the reasoning for this change is he falling in love with Beatrice. This is totally different to the misogamist at the beginning of the play. Benedict doesn’t follows the rest of the gentlemen as they leave but stays to comfort Beatrice. ‘Lady were you her bedfellow last night?’ this is just one of the times that Benedict tries to find proof to prove Hero’s innocence. It is clear that in this argument he will stick with Beatrice instead of the gentlemen. This scene shows a lot of male dominance.

Beatrice and Benedict, after everyone has left, declare their love for each other. ‘I do love nothing in the world so well as you; is that not strange?’ this line from Benedict shows the change. In the previous scene he as never said something so meaningful. This conversation was the most serious Benedict and Beatrice have had. Before they were just a witty repartee and left Hero and Claudio to be all romantic. Towards the end of the conversation Beatrice asks Benedict to prove his love by killing Claudio. He will do this by challenging Claudio to a duel. This is a way of getting back at him for hurting her beloved cousin as well as proving his love.

The Friar’s plan is to announce Hero dead. This is decided so it can buy time to change the accusation of unfaithfulness while making Claudio feel guilty for his actions. ‘Marry, this, well carried, shall on her behalf change slander to remorse; that is some good,’ this quote from the Friar shows how he believes it is in Hero’s best interests to be announced dead. If no one can prove Claudio as wrong then if Hero is believed to be dead, she can just be whisked away with out public notice and shame on the family name. Every one that knows this plan believes it is the right thing to do. The Friar told Leonarto this would be the right thing to do, to save his own back, this made Leonarto agree.

In this, the trail scene, we meet the stupid humour of Dogberry and Verges, interrogating their prisoners. The double act doesn’t even know why Conrade and Borachio are being imprisoned. The sexton trusts Dogberry and Verges to write a written statement, he warns Dogberry of how to behave. The Watch is then enters to show their evidence. The Watch admit to what they herd Conrade and Borachio talking about previously. When the sexton asks what the Watch herd them say, the first Watch man replies ‘And that Count Claudio did not mean upon his words, to disgrace Hero before the assembly, and not marry her.’ After more proof Don John’s plan is uncovered, this makes the audience think that all is going to be well, a happy ending. We find out more information in this scene that Don John has fled, this shows he has got something to hide. The sexton puts all the truth together then rushes to Leonarto’s house with his findings.

Within this act, Shakespeare has brought to fruition many of his themes and ideas. We see romantic love denounced alongside love born out of knowledge prospering. He end the first scene on a dramatic note, with the tension of Benedict leaving the stage to kill his best friend, but presents the second scene in a comic way, in order to lighten this tension. Act IV is therefor extremely significant and crucial to the development of the play, ‘Much Ado about Nothing’.

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