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What does the phrase "go to" mean in Shakespearan plays?  For example, in Much Ado...

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otterheart | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:06 PM via web

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What does the phrase "go to" mean in Shakespearan plays?  For example, in Much Ado About Nothing at the end of Act 4, Scene 2, Dogberry is railing how the malefactors do not recognize his status and he uses the phrase.

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sensei918 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted June 10, 2013 at 9:59 PM (Answer #1)

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Shakespeare uses many Elizabethan phrases and colloquialisms in his plays that were quite common in his day but have fallen out of use in modern times. One of these is the exclamation "Go to!" It's modern equivalent might be "Get out of here!" used either seriously or ironically. It actually meant "Be gone" or "Get out of my sight" or "Get away from me." If you are familiar with many Shakespeare plays, you might notice that he uses it frequently, for instance in Twelfth Night when the Lady Olivia tells the fool Feste "Go to. You are a dry fool" when he displeases her.

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wanderista | TA , Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted October 2, 2013 at 1:19 PM (Answer #2)

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"Go to!" is an Elizabethan equivalent to "Leave immediately!" or "Shoo!", or as sensei918 pointed out, "Get out of here!". The phrase shows the superior nature of Dogberry, and shows his authority and high status and their leader. 

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