1. Discuss Romantic Comedy (in the form of dramas). How does Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing highlight the elements of Romantic Comedies. Be sure to cite at least 6 lines from the play to support your observations on Romantic Comedy.
2. Discuss High Comedy (in the form of dramas). How does Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing highlight the elements of High Comedy? Be sure to cite at least 6 lines from the play to support your observations on High Comedy.
3. Discuss Trickster Plot. Describe the Trickster plot that was used so often by Shakespeare in both his comedies and tragedies. With an emphasis on the use in comedy, connect elements of the plot from Much Ado About Nothing to the Trickster Plot. Be sure to cite at least 6 lines from the play to support your observations.
● This is a reflective assignment, so the work should be your observations and should not come from outside sources. The only source you are required to cite is the text, Much Ado About Nothing.
● You must use MLA Style for this assignment (this is included for The Works Cited Page and your in-text citations). Please familiarize yourself with how to cite lines from dramas in MLA style.
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A romantic comedy is a specific genre of drama that deals with the humorous depiction of burgeoning love, and highlights the foible and follies of those falling in love. An air of romance, a spirit of levity and a happy ending are the integral aspects of a romantic comedy (Baldick). Shakespeare has written a variety of romantic comedies, such as As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The merchant of Venice. However, the present essay intends to examine the features of a romantic comedy as identified in one of the most well-known plays of Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing.
Published in the year of 1623, the readers can find an atmosphere of festivity and celebration right since the opening of the play. As a typical romantic comedy, the play starts with the joyous homecoming of the men who had been so far engaged at war and their homecoming is soon followed by a celebratory feast. Again, the confusion at the beginning of the play only to be restored by the end is also an integral feature of romantic comedy that can be traced in the play. While Benedict and Beatrice are found to engage in “merry war” at the start, the illegitimate brother of Pedro Don John schemes against Hero to ruin her marriage prospect with Claudio, as part of his avenge plan against his brother, and hence seeks to create misunderstandings between them (Hall). Even both Beatrice and Benedict, her lover, are being reconciled after their trivial fight through the intervention of their friends that further highlight the features of a romantic comedy. Everything happens out of confusion, whereby while characters like Hero is misunderstood, and lovers like Beatrice and Benedict are being reconciled.
Love at first sight is an important theme in any romantic comedy. Just like Twelfth Night, love at first sight is also an important feature here. In Much Ado about Nothing, Claudio fell in love with Hero, at the very first sight of her. Just like any romantic comedy, the couple fell in love instantly, and Claudio start thinking of marriage, without even spending an hour with her. This suddenness of action is also an important aspect of a romantic comedy. Claudio fell in love suddenly, and after the confusion created by Don John, Claudio suddenly changes his mind, and openly questions the love and fidelity of his love interest. Again, although this confusion brining in emotional tension within the play, with the supposed death of the Hero, peace and harmony is restored in a glimpse when Hero is found to be alive. The suddenness of action, along with a well-predicted happy ending to take over the temporary tension of the play, makes Much Ado about Nothing a romantic play in the true sense (Vance). Again, humor is also an important element in a romantic comedy, and the scenes such as where Beatrice and Benedict overhear their friends claiming that the other one is in love, are truly infused with delightful humor (McKeown).
Needless to state here, that the play does revolve around the theme of love- the basic element of a romantic comedy. The play tells the story of the two happy couples- Beatrice and Benedict and Hero and Claudio, who surmount every odd to unify with their respective love interests. Through the play, Shakespeare also seems to exhort the audience that one should love his beloved not merely after having a glimpse of her, but after understanding her, and exploring her mind well (Nguyen). A sense of mutual respect and an unwavering faith in the beloved was lacking in Claudio, and Shakespeare seems to tell his audience the importance of these two in any romantic relationship.
However, Much Ado about Nothing cannot be regarded as a typical romantic comedy, keeping into consideration the tragic tone that underlies the surface of a fairy tale with a joyous ending. Claudio proclaims his unconditional love for Hero, and yet on the slightest provocation, his love fades, whereby he assaults Hero, accusing her of having carried clandestine affair during their engagement (Mateo). He does not have any faith or respect in his love interest, and yet the couple get reconciled in the end, making the audience worried about the future of such a relation. The world of Much Ado about Nothing is a dark one, where marriage is fragile, faith and respect in relations have ceased to exist, characters make jokes about cuckoldry, a woman almost needs to die to prove her worth, and policemen like Dogberry are found to mourn over their losses in life.
It is needless to say that serious issues such as strained relations or gender politics do appear and re-appear in the course of the play, making Much Ado about Nothing more a dark comedy rather than a romantic comedy. However, it is undeniable that the play combining the elements of romance and comedy, offering a fairy tale like happy ending at the end of the play, can be deemed as a romantic comedy as well.
Baldick, Chris. The Oxford dictionary of literary terms. OUP Oxford, 2015.
Hall, Edinburgh Usher, and Glasgow City Halls. “Beatrice & Benedict.” (2016): 46-47.
Mateo, Marta. “Variations on Much Ado About Nothing: Beatrice and Benedick in Target-Language Adaptations.” Linguaculture 2015.1 (2015): 24-44.
McKeown, Roderick Hugh. ““I will stop your mouth”: the regulation of jesting in Much Ado About Nothing.” Shakespeare 12.1 (2016): 33-54.
Nguyen, Shelby. “All is Not Fair in Love and Shakespearean Comedy.” Conspectus Borealis 1.1 (2016): 4.
Vance, Mary. “A Natural History of Teasing: British Women Writers and the Shakespearean Courtship Narrative, 1677-~ 1818.” (2016).