In Kenneth Brannagh's Much Ado about Nothing, the church scene when Hero is being accused...please read below comment for complete question.In Kenneth Brannagh's Much Ado about Nothing, the church...

In Kenneth Brannagh's Much Ado about Nothing, the church scene when Hero is being accused...please read below comment for complete question.

In Kenneth Brannagh's Much Ado about Nothing, the church scene when Hero is being accused is relatively violent, making it distinctly different from much of the frivolity of the rest of the story. How does this add or detract from the storytelling?

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Asked on by themagic

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

amy-lepore raises an excellent point here that is worthy of further discussion. Claudio's willingness to believe rumours about his true love that he has spent so many lines of iambic pentameters idolising really reflects more about Claudio than it does about Hero. He doesn't even seem to want to definitely prove the fact. You can read this in so many ways, but Hero definitely comes out of this better than Claudio, in my opinion. A violent scene indeed, but one that reinforces the patriarchal society and world in which the play is set.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree with post #2, but remember that words are sometimes more deadly than swords.  Death by sword is immediate and final.  Death by words...as in Hero's case (and Beatrice's for awhile, anyway)...can be just as final even though the victim continues to live.  Sure, Hero marries the clout anyway, but who's to say she really forgave him?  What makes us think she won't snap one day and knock him in the head with her momma's cast iron skillet or a three-pound ballpin hammer? 

mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Much Ado About Nothing is a comic version of Romeo and Juliet.  It all goes well until the night before the wedding, to when Hero is thought to be unfaithful.  After this, on the wedding day, the play carefully walks the tightrope between comedy and tragedy.  It could go either way: Hero's father could kill her; Hero could kill herself; Benedick could kill Claudio; and Pedro could kill Benedick.

All goes well in tragedy and comedy until Act III.  In Romeo and Juliet, all goes well until Romeo is banished.  Then, Juliet must fake her death in order for the two lovers to be reunited.  Well, in Much Ado, Hero is likewise exiled in Act III.  Instead of swordfighting in the street, Hero is simply accused of not being a virgin.  This is the tragic and sexist double standard that could so easily throw comedy into tragedy.  Men are banished through blood; women are banished through rumor.

Luckily, tragedy is averted by Beatrice, a kind of Friar Lawrence intercessory.  It takes all of Beatrice's powers to convince Benedict to defend a "whore."  This goes against his life's training: Benedict has been taught to distrust women, namely unfaithful ones.  Love doesn't change him: a feminist does.

Benedict's challenge of Claudio could very well lead to tragedy, but, luckily, the comedy ends as a comedy should: by accident.  A buffoon uncovers Don John's plot.  Borachio confesses.  Claudio and Pedro hold vigil.  Claudio weds Hero's sister instead.  Don John is captured.  Instead of one funeral, we have a fake funeral and two weddings.

Instead of the swords of tragedy, Much Ado uses the words that could lead to both.

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