comedy written in 1598 (probably) and first published in 1600. It is set in Messina
The Plot in a Nutshell:
- Benedick and Beatrice have an ongoing battle of wits between them, they finally meet. Both have foresworn love, indeed are famed for it. And continue their rivalry within seconds of meeting.
- Claudio, Benedick's best, mate falls in love with Hero, much to Benedick's dismay. "Will I never see a bachelor of three score again?".
- Claudio gets Hero's father's blessing to marry
- Don John (the illegitimate brother of Don Pedro, and so is a bastard in every sense of the word) decides to ruin it all for everyone.
- The Prince, Don Pedro, decides to play cupid, and try and matchmake Benedick and Beatrice.
- After a little bit of plotting by all the characters, Benedick and Beatrice realise their love for one another but will not admit it.
- Don John's mate seduces Hero's maid, and has sex with her in Hero's bedroom.
- Don John tells Count Claudio and the Prince about Hero not being a virgin. They go see some action in Hero's bedroom, and assume it was Hero.
- Don John's mate (Borachio), gets arrested by the Sheriff, after his men overhear him talking about the plot. Nobody is interested in listening to the Sheriff because he is a little eccentric, and there are wedding plans to be made
- The day of Wedding, Claudio does not take Hero's hand and calls her some horrible names, like "rotten orange".
- Everyone is a bit miffed with Hero for not being a maiden. The only people sticking up for her are Beatrice and the Friar who was to marry them
- The friar, in true Shakespearian style, comes up with a plot. Hero, shall be pronounced dead (the scandal killed her, she was that innocent). Claudio will then realise the error of his ways and be remorseful that he went a bit loony at the wedding.
- Beatrice is not appeased by this, however. Beatrice and Hero are good friends, and she is not well pleased with Claudio. It is at this opportune time(?) that Benedick declares his love for her, and she reciprocates. And then does a really horrible thing and says "'if you really loved me, you'd..' kill Claudio for dishonouring Hero".
- The interrogation of the conspirators takes place. Not a lot of plot happens here, but it should be noted that Dogberry, the Sheriff, is an ass.
Benedick issues the challenge to Claudio, and storms off.
- Don Pedro and Claudio then learn of Don John's plot from Barachio himself(brought to the scene by Dogberry).
- Claudio apologises to Hero's father about killing her and all. Is there anything he can do to make up for it? Leonato says, actually yes there is. You can marry my niece. And Claudio agrees.
- Benedick and Beatrice hear about Don John's plot and Borachio's confession.
- Claudio pays his final respects to the dead Hero.
- Claudio accepts a bemasked woman's hand in marriage. When she takes off the mask, it is of course, Hero. The marriage goes ahead.
- Afterwards Benedick and Beatrice get married, then Don John is captured.
- they all lived happily ever after.
I'm not sure of the vagina/nothing pun. I certainly have never heard it before. There is a pun in the title however. In Elizabethan times, nothing was a homophone of noting. Throughout the play there is much "I did note" type statements. They way that Claudio did note the scandal with his own eyes, and so on. There is a big theme of seeing is believing, taking note, and of course, there is much ado about nothing. Lots of things happen, and at the end of the play, nothing much has changed at all. Perhaps even, Benedick and Beatrice already loved each other, they just know it now.
It is effectively a look at the affairs of love. Which really are, much ado about nothing. It should also be noted (pun thouroughly intended), that in both cases, love wins through all the struggle. Also, there is a strong case of what is and what is not that runs through play. The fact that Don Pedro appears to be wooing Hero at the beginning, the appearance of a scandal, the appearance of death, the appearance of Benedick disliking Beatrice, the appearance that Dogberry is an ass. There are more.
Also there are lots of subplots where nothing happens. Don John tries a smaller plot at the start, convincing Claudio that the Prince woos for himself. It all gets sorted out quickly and leads to nothing. The large plot of Don John's comes to nothing. All the foreswearing of love by Benedick and Beatrice comes to nothing. And Claudio's lack of faith in Hero comes to nothing. And so on.
There is tons of puns and wit and humour in this play, and it is definitely my favourite of the lot. This is assisted by the fact that in Kenneth Brannagh's excellent version, Keanu Reaves gets to say his greatest line.