The objective of evil is one of the motives for deception in the play. Don John, Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother, is the play’s most malevolent character. Don John devises a plan to sabotage Claudio and Hero’s wedding by having one of his men, Borachio, engage in sexual intercourse with Margaret on the balcony, giving the impression that Hero is having an affair with another man. Don John tells Claudio, as Borachio leads Margaret to the balcony, “go but with me tonight, you shall see her chamber window entered, even the night before her wedding day. If you love her then, tomorrow wed her. But it would better fit your honor to change your mind” (Shakespeare 97-98). Don John’s strategy succeeds, resulting in a big brawl during the wedding.
Don John’s plan all along had been to mislead Claudio and do something terrible. This form of deception is used to sever relationships in a malicious manner. Similarly, if a person lies to disseminate an untruth about another human being, this example of evil in the play may be applied to life in general. As illustrated, this deception was employed to propagate evil in Messina, but it ultimately failed. Claudio and Hero married, Don John was imprisoned, and Margaret’s secret became public. These results demonstrate that when individuals lie in the name of evil, they will eventually fail and pay the price.
The intention of love is the second motivation for deception in the play. While Don Pedro devises a scheme to bring Benedick and Beatrice together by loudly proclaiming that Beatrice “loves” Benedick when this is not the case, this is an example of this. Benedick overhears a conversation between Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio and remarks, “they say the lady is fair; ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness. And virtuous; ’tis so, I cannot reprove it. And wise, but for loving me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her!” (Shakespeare 77-78). The plot also includes Hero and Ursula, who discuss how much Benedick “loves” Beatrice. Beatrice, like Benedick, hears Hero and Ursula and declares her love for Benedick. In the play, this form of deception is utilized to bring two individuals together by generating good stories about one another. These findings demonstrate that when people lie in the name of love, they eventually succeed and live a happy life.
The play is littered with a metaphor about taming wild animals. The emblem of a tamed savage beast indicates the societal taming that must occur for both wild souls to be ready to succumb to the chains of love and marriage in the instance of Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship. Claudio goes through the motions of a bereaved Hero, even employing a chorus to chant a funeral over her grave. Hero has died in a symbolic sense, for Claudio’s terrible allegation has irrevocably tarnished her name despite her innocence. In order for Claudio to marry her a second time, she must die metaphorically and be resurrected pure. Claudio’s fictitious death is more of a social rite designed to wash Hero’s name and person of notoriety than it is a ruse intended to instill guilt in him.
The most prevalent theme in Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing” is deception, which is motivated by hostility, love, and the need to conceal one’s feelings, all of which are valid motivations for individuals today to lie. The play explains that misleading someone for the sake of evil invariably results in failure but deceiving someone for the purpose of love usually results in success. Eventually, deception is not always the greatest option; even when it comes to love, it is always preferable to speak the truth to avoid unnecessary drama. Finally, deception is neither wholly beneficial nor purely negative: it is a tool for achieving a goal, a technique to create an illusion that aids social success. “Much Ado About Nothing” demonstrates that deception is not intrinsically evil but rather a tool that may be utilized for good or bad purposes.
Shakespeare, William. Much Ado About Nothing (Folger Shakespeare Library). Edited by Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine, Simon and Schuster, 2018.