‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is one of Shakespeare’s later comedies, like most Shakespearian plays it focuses on love; the love affairs of two cousins Hero and Beatrice who both contrast each other in personality and looks.
Shakespeare wrote for Elizabethan audiences who were particularly fond of humour that played on words, as ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is filled with puns, sarcasm and innuendos this would have been extremely comedic. The title ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is a pun on ‘nothing’ and ‘noting’ immediately questioning its own seriousness and bringing the theme of misunderstanding. Shakespeare also used innuendos ‘when she had writ it and was reading it over, she found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet’ sheet is used to refer to a piece of paper but also used to refer to a bed sheet, implying sex between Benedick and Beatrice, sex would have been a taboo in those times, so it would have been scandalously funny. Beatrice is a character highly known for her sarcasm, unlikely of women at the time, she describes Claudio as ‘..civil as an orange’ to describe his jealously and bitterness, playing on the words civil and Seville orange.
The plot of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ focuses on misunderstanding; some deliberate some accidental, causing chaos between the characters. This deliberate misunderstanding is caused between the conflict of Don John and Claudio, as Don John is feeling bitter and revengeful he tells Claudio Hero is courting with Don Pedro. The comedy is found in Claudio’s reaction as he changes from a hopeless romantic to a pathetic jealous character. He refers to Hero as ‘the sweetest lady that I ever looked on’ highlighting the Petrarchan love between them , then his flippant character is displayed as he progresses to say ‘beauty is a witch’ as he feels betrayed and hurt. This is comedic for the audience due to the dramatic irony of the situation. This speech is written in prose giving it a comedic feel which is fitting with the simple lower class characters.
Another huge source of humour is the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick, as express their mutual hate for each other and frequently engage in a ‘battle of wits’- we see Benedick dig at Beatrice ‘My dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living’ Benedick uses the personification of