Much Ado About Nothing Essay - Critical Essays

Sample Essay Outlines

The following paper topics, each with a sample outline, are designed to test your understanding of Much Ado About Nothing.

Each deals with the play as a whole and requires analysis of important themes and literary devices.

Topic #1
Shakespeare interweaves two love stories in Much Ado About

Nothing, the Claudio-Hero plot and the Benedick-Beatrice plot. Write an analytical essay on the ways in which they parallel or counterpoint each other in characterization, in dialogue, and in plot structure.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: The Claudio-Hero and the Benedick-Beatrice love stories are interwoven in Much Ado About Nothing through a series of parallels and contrasts in characterization, in dialogue, and in plot structure.

II. Characterization

A. Parallels

1,. Hero and Beatrice are kinswomen and good friends and Claudio and Benedick are comrades-in-arms and good friends

2. Both couples knew each other in the past

3. Both couples are learning to discriminate properly and to estimate each other's true value

4. Both couples' ability to love will be tested

B. Contrasts

1. Claudio and Hero are slaves to convention and Benedick and Beatrice are free spirits

2. Claudio seeks a wooing intermediary and Benedick woos directly

3. Claudio and Hero rely on knowledge, and Benedick and Beatrice rely on their intuition.

4. After professing their love, Claudio and Hero are easily derailed, but nothing will stop Benedick and Beatrice

III. Dialogue A. Parallels

1. Both couples are educated aristocrats

2. Both couples talk about marriage

3. Both Claudio and Benedick speak about their fears of cuckoldry

4. Both couples will learn to speak more directly

B. Contrasts

1. Claudio and Hero usually speak inverse and Benedick and Beatrice usually speak in prose

2. Claudio and Hero comply with social superior's voices and Benedick and Beatrice challenge social superior's voices

3. Benedick and Beatrice radically change their speech patterns and Claudio and Hero do not

IV Plot structure A. Harmony of plots

1. The Claudio-Hero plot and the Benedick-Beatrice plot are harmonized because they are friends

2. The Claudio-Hero plot and the Benedick-Beatrice plot are harmonized because they are both love stories

3. The Claudio-Hero and the Benedick-Beatrice plot are both harmonized by their gaiety until crisis occurs

B. Polarization of plots

1. The polarization of the plots begin when reflective Benedick will no longer play court jester for Claudio and Don Pedro

2. The crisis in the Claudio-Hero plot, the refusal and accusal of Hero, precipitates an extended crisis in the Benedick-Beatrice plot

3. The crisis in the Benedick-Beatrice plot, Beatrice's demand that Benedick kill Claudio, accelerates the polarization between the two plots

4. The two plots are completely polarized when Benedick agrees to, and then challenges, Claudio

C. Reconciliation of plots

1. The Claudio-Hero plot is reconciled with the Benedick-Beatrice plot when Benedick releases penitent Claudio from his challenge

2. The Claudio-Hero plot is reconciled with the Beatrice-Benedick plot as both couples prepare for their double-wedding

V. Conclusion: Shakespeare uses parallels and counterpoints to interweave two love stories, one based on convention, the other on invention, in a pattern that begins in harmony, splits in crisis, and resolves in reconciliation. Sample Analytical Paper Topics 109

Topic #2
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(The entire section is 1575 words.)