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Essay about The Nature of Shakespearean Gossip in Much Ado About Nothing

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Even from its title, Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing epitomizes the modern day phrase “to make a mountain out of a molehill.” Comparable to today’s celebrity gossip magazines, the play sheds light on the nature of gossip during Shakespeare’s time and the receptiveness of the Shakespearean community towards rumor and humiliation. In this particular play, despite not having any speaking parts, the implied effect that society has in the overall picture of the play is tremendous. Intensifying the effect of the main conflict and conveying the tendencies of human nature to trust in deception, society and its thirst for the latest gossip recruits characters and readers alike as spectators, eagerly watching as the scandal unfolds.
Following the news of Hero’s alleged affair, society reveals the true nature of Claudio and Don Pedro through the characters’ manipulation of public exposure to shame Hero. This is evident in Act 2 when Borachio first introduces his plan to Don John. From the beginning, Borachio had predicted Claudio and the prince’s reaction, and instructed Don John to “…tell them that you know that Hero loves me; intend a kind of zeal both to the Prince and Claudio (as in love of your brother’s honor, who hath made this match, and his friend’s reputation, who is thus like to be cozened with the semblance of a maid) that you have discovered thus” (2.2.35-40). Although one would normally believe that after being accused as disloyal, Hero would be the only one to suffer the shame, Borachio makes it clear that the prince and Claudio will suffer from their own humiliation as well. From his explanation, Borachio anticipates that the prince will feel ashamed because society may view him as one of bad judgment for making...


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...221-225). From this quote, Benedick shows that he does not wish to be mocked by society, in which people believe that they can predict his reactions. Determined to prove society wrong, Benedick also makes the hasty decision to love Beatrice.
Ultimately it can be seen that throughout the play, the underlying presence of society exaggerates conflicts through shame and conveys the ice that human nature is willing to believe deception over the truth. While it is clear that the gossip and news of Shakespeare’s time period and those of the modern day differ in many different ways, both are indirectly related by their values in society based upon human interest. True of both the past and now, it is through society which both shame and humiliation come to light, as well as proof of the uninformed and reckless judgment of human beings.


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