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Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare
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How are the Benedick-Beatrice and Claudio-Hero love stories interwoven through a series of parallels and contrasts in Much Ado About Nothing?

The Benedick-Beatrice and Claudio-Hero love stories in Much Ado About Nothing show parallels in the theme of deception and in their becoming happily united at the end of the play. The main contrasts between the couples' stories are that Benedick and Beatrice initially dislike each other and then grow close, while Claudio and Hero move from instant love to painful separation before the ultimate reunion.

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In Much Ado about Nothing, William Shakespeare creates two love stories that each develops on its own terms but also intersects with that of the other couple. The play's happy ending shows a parallel between their situations, as both couples are wed.

Another parallel is shown through the trickery and deception that various characters apply to would-be or actual lovers. The theme shows two variants. In one case, the tricks are intended to be humorous. A group of friends plan to have fun by making Benedick and Beatrice think the other loves him or her. In the other instance, the deceit has a harmful intent. Don John plans to make trouble for Don Pedro, his half-brother and rival. John will make Pedro's friend Claudio miserable through causing Claudio to doubt the honor and fidelity of his beloved, Hero.

The contrast between the couple's paths to happiness and togetherness is clearly drawn. Benedick and Beatrice begin as skeptics about love and doubt that they will find their match. As they get to know each other, they find qualities to admire. Claudio, in particular, is far more romantic and impractical. He falls in love at first sight and then can be persuaded of Hero's inappropriate behavior because he does not really know her. He even agrees to marry another woman after he thinks she has died. Shakespeare shows a preference for love based in respect rather than infatuation.

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