Much Ado About Nothing is far from the greatest of Shakespeare’s works. I don’t often see it referenced in scholarly works about the Bard. It’s certainly not his best writing, though it does have some interesting commentary on the human condition that still resonates with me.
It’s a bizarre, farcical comedy about marriage and friendship. Shakespeare himself probably had a pretty low opinion of marriage as in institution- he certainly wasn’t terribly fond of his own- but Much Ado looks at it in a bizarre but favorable light. He manages a few jabs. (Forcing someone to marry the cousin of the girl you’ve murdered with slander? Do they make a card for that? What’s an appropriate gift to give?)
Mostly it’s a cute and odd little play about honesty, trust, and how illogical and stupid love can be. I still think one of the things that draws me to Jaime is her Beatrice like disdain for the common trappings of relationships. Not that I can spar with her on the level of Benedict. It’s more like Beatrice and Claudio. But I do try.
I think what makes me love this play beyond all reason is that love itself is a ridiculous concept. Romance is strange and wonderful, and the play captures this perfectly. One of my favorite scenes is when they are trying to figure out what to do with Beatrice, and she goes on about how she needs someone more than a youth, yet not more than a youth… She admits the ridiculousness of the entire endeavor. It’s such a nice scene, because she’s fully aware that she sounds absurd, but doesn’t care. The entire situation is absurd!
Ultimately what makes it work out for everyone is admitting we’re lost and confused. We admit it’s insane and we just have to try our best to be there for one another. It’s marvelously human, like Shakespeare could be at his best.
I do still wonder if Hero doesn’t bring it up from time to time when Claudio annoys her.
“Oh you don’t seem to be enjoying your dinner. Remember when you were such an ass to me that I almost died?!”
“No honey that’s okay I don’t need a new dress. Oh hey remember when you turned my wedding into a slut shaming party? And you got my dad to tell everyone he wished I were dead?”