Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing book cover
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How can Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing relate to modern audiences? 

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englishprof1564 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Modern audiences can relate to Much Ado About Nothing because the basic "will they or won't they" love story never gets old. At the beginning of the story, Beatrice and Benedick seem to hate each other, or at least to have a lot of tension. They insult each other both behind each other's backs and to each other's faces, and they both seem rather obsessed with each other. Then the plot begins to unfold: will Don Pedro, Leonato, Claudio, and Hero succeed in their matchmaking efforts? There are hitches and moments of hesitation where it seems like things won't work out, but they do in the end....

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missmazz | Student

"Much Ado About Nothing" is incredibly relevant to today's audiences. Shakespeare addresses several issues, including the importance of reputation, the lack of respect for women's position in society, and the problem of misunderstanding.

When Hero is wrongly accused by Don John and Claudio as being impure and unfaithful, her reputation is completely ruined. Claudio, assuming he had all of the facts as told to him by the devious Don John, made an immediate judgement that was incorrect about Hero. At that time, a woman's reputation was all she had, and once soiled, she was rendered useless. In our current society, when someone is caught doing something most of us would consider distasteful, or is accused of doing something that many would consider "bad", their character is called into question and they immediately are judged or shamed despite people not having all of the details surrounding the accusation. This problem is timeless because human beings will always make quick decisions about people without knowing all of the facts. 

As another example of the play's relevance, Beatrice voices the frustration of women who just want to be in command of their own lives. Women during Shakespeare's time could not choose their own husbands or do just about anything without the permission of their father or male guardian. Additionally, if women weren't married by a certain age, they were considered somewhat useless and a burden to their families, as if something must be wrong with them if they weren't able to attract a man. Although women have much more freedom today, they are still judged by society based on their attractiveness to men and generally have to work harder than men to climb corporate ladders. Many women share their frustrations on media platforms working to change these societal constraints. 

Lastly, misunderstandings have been a problem for just about anyone during any point in time throughout human history. The "accidental" romance between Benedick and Beatrice was built completely on misunderstandings and miscommunications, as was the happy discovery of Borachio's plan to hurt Hero by Dogberry. As long as humans communicate in some way, shape, or form, there will be misunderstandings. That will never change. Therefore, this play will always be relevant.