What sixteenth century source may have supplied the inspiration for Beatrice and Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing"?

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We don't know for certain what Shakespeare did and didn't read - it's a game based on finding similarities between the source and his play and drawing conclusions appropriately.

Academics *think* then (rather than know!) that there are three major textual sources for "Much Ado About Nothing".  

Orlando Furioso (1591) by Lodovico Ariosto, translated by Sir John Harington probably provided the marriage between Hero and Claudio and Don John’s plot to prevent it.

La Prima Parte de le Nouelle (1554) by Matteo Bandello, provided the setting in Messina, as well as contributing to the marriage plot involving Hero, Claudio, and Don John.

And lastly, a well-known work by Baldassare Castiglione, translated by Sir Thomas Hoby, The Courtier (1588) is likely to have been the source for the love affair between Beatrice and Benedick.

Read the study guide:
Much Ado About Nothing

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