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Please provide an in-depth character summary of Don John from Much Ado About Nothing.I...

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bulawayo-chick | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 8, 2010 at 3:54 AM via web

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Please provide an in-depth character summary of Don John from Much Ado About Nothing.

I am Don John's psychiatrist and am writing notes about him in Modern English that are still relevant to the play.

 

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shakespeareguru | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted August 10, 2010 at 8:45 PM (Answer #1)

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Well, first, if your question is meant to imply that Shakespeare wrote in something other than Modern English, you would be incorrect!  Shakespeare wrote in 100% Modern English.  He just happened to use some words that have gone out of fashion and often used his words in a very stylized form -- blank verse.  He also, by the way, made up thousands of words that we use commonly every day -- words like eyeball and lonely.

But I digress.  To your question regarding an "in-depth" look at Don John.  Well, unfortunately, Don John, as written by Shakespeare, is pretty inscrutable.  Here are a few of the most telling things he says about himself:

I cannot hide what I am:  I must be sad when I have cause...eat when I have stomach...sleep when I am drowsy...laugh when I am merry.

And maybe most importantly:

[I]t must not be denied but I am a plain dealing villain....[L]et me be that I am and seek not to alter me.

He does say he has a grudge against Claudio, but much like Iago in Othello, it is hard to see how that motivation is more compelling than the fact that he is simply a villain.  It is certainly true that, also like Iago, he is willing to go to great lengths to ruin the lives of others.  He says, "Only to despite them I will endeavor anything."

And that's basically the last we hear from him in the play.  His henchmen, Conrad and Borachio, actually figure more prominently in the action of the play as they attempt to carry out his devious scheme.  At the end of the play, it is reported that he has fled.  No redemption or punishment for Don John.

So, for your assignment, you'll need to take the things that he says about himself and create your own psychoanalysis.  Good luck!

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