Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare is absolutely fantastic. I’ve only read a few Shakespeare so far, but I have a feeling it will be my favorite. I love the characters, the plot, the dialogue and the interaction between the characters. Every other Shakespeare will have to surpass this. Like the typical Shakespeare, it’s difficult to give highlights of the plot because there is so much going on, but basically it’s one of his comedies about Leonato, a nobleman who lives in the idyllic Italian town of Messina. Leonato shares his house with his lovely young daughter, Hero, his playful, clever niece, Beatrice, and his elderly brother, Antonio (who is Beatrice’s father).
As the play begins, Leonato prepares to welcome some friends home from a war. The friends include Don Pedro, a prince who is a close friend of Leonato, and two fellow soldiers: Claudio, a well-respected young nobleman, and Benedick, a clever man who constantly makes witty jokes, often at the expense of his friends. Don John, Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother, is part of the crowd as well. Don John is sullen and bitter, and makes trouble for the others. When the soldiers arrive at Leonato’s home, Claudio quickly falls in love with Hero. Meanwhile, Benedick and Beatrice resume the war of witty insults that they have carried on with each other in the past. Claudio and Hero pledge their love to one another and decide to be married. To pass the time in the week before the wedding, the lovers and their friends decide to play a game. They want to get Beatrice and Benedick, who are clearly meant for each other, to stop arguing and fall in love. Their tricks prove successful, and Beatrice and Benedick soon fall secretly in love with each other. But Don John has decided to disrupt everyone’s happiness.
Once Don John starts to cause mischief, the group is torn apart and characters begin to choose which side they’re on. At one point, Benedick even challenges Claudio to a duel on behalf of Beatrice. Much chaos ensues.
It’s a delightfully entertaining story, with much wit between Beatrice and Benedick, my favorite characters. As they are being tricked into believing the other one is in love with them, they are still trying desperately to cling to dignity, and the wit and jibes at each other escalate. Their banter and play with words is one of the highlights of the play and only gets better and better as they each try and outdo each other.