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Much Ado About Nothing Essay: The Character of Don John

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The Character of Don John in Much Ado About Nothing  


   William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy in which he uses one of his more peculiar villains. The antagonist in this play is Don John, the bastard brother of Don Pedro. In this paper I will discuss the role of Don John as well as his motives and the character himself. I will also delve into Shakespeare's use of Don John as the antagonist. I will be comparing Don John to other characters in the play as well as to other villains in Shakespeare's works. While Don John does not spend a great deal of time on the stage in Much Ado About Nothing, he still plays a vital role in the plot of the play. The plan that he sets in motion is one of the two main stories within the play (the battle of wit between Beatrice and Benedict being the other).

Don John, as I mentioned before, is the bastard brother of Don Pedro. His illegitimacy is one of the factors that makes him altogether vile and hateful. He is bitter because of his social standing and at the beginning of the play is directly bitter and jealous of Claudio. We might find some reasoning into why Don John hates Claudio by what he says when speaking to Barrachio and Conrade in the first act. When finding out about Don Pedro's plot to help Claudio win the hand of Hero, Don John says:

"Come, come; let us thither: this may prove food to my displeasure. That young start up hath all the glory of my overthrow: if I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way." (Shakespeare 16)

While Shakespeare never actually distinguishes specific motives for Don John's hatred of Claudio, we can infer one of two possibilities from his use of the word "overthrow". The overthrow he refers to could be a military overthr...


... middle of paper ...


... in the face to Don John.

The character Don John is not a very complicated character. He is not a character that gets very much time on the stage either. You cannot deny, however, that he is one of the most evil and twisted characters that Shakespeare has ever come up with. I think that Don John is the perfect villain in every aspect of the word.

Works Cited

Hunter, G.K.   William Shakespeare: The Later Comedies.   Great Brittian:   Langman's Green & Co. Ltd.   1962

Shakespeare, William.   Much Ado About Nothing.   Cambridge:   At the University Press    1962

Shakespeare, William.   Hamlet.   New York and London:   W.W. Norton & Co., Inc.   1963

Shkespeare, William.   Much Ado About Nothing.   New Haven:   Yale University Press   1917

Spivack, Bernard.   Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil.   New York:   Columbia University Press   1958


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