Discuss the title?With particular reference to Shakespeare's deliberate punning on the word ''Nothing''

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have heard at least a couple of ideas about how this title is a pun.

First of all, if you take the title literally, it is simply saying that the whole play is a farce.  It is saying that the play is just fun -- it's about nothing in particular.

Then, you can think about how most of the conflict is about things that don't really happen.  Hero never actually is unfaithful, but there is much ado about her being unfaithful. So there is much ado about nothing there.

Third, I have heard it said that "nothing" and "noting" were pronounced the same back then.  Looked at like this, it is a play about observing things (like the men observing the faked scene where Hero supposedly is confessing to being unchaste).

Finally, I have read that "nothing" was slang for female genitals.  This would mean the play's title means, more or less, much ado about sex.

bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the main themes of the play is appearance and reality, what things appear to be versus what they really are. This play is all about deception, and part of that deception is eavesdropping. Shakespeare uses "nothing" as a pun on the word "noting", which means eavesdropping. Messina is full of people, such as Don John, who are willing to destroy lives without caring about the consequences. Don John's deceptive actions cause "much ado".

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Much Ado About Nothing

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