Much Ado About Nothing Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What are examples of suspension of disbelief in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing?

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One example of suspension of disbelief can be seen in the moment at the masquerade in Act II, scene 1, when Don Pedro pretends to be Claudio in disguise to ask for Hero's hand in marriage on Claudio's behalf. The plan is conjured up earlier, at the very end of the first scene in Act I. When Claudio confesses to Don Pedro just how much he loves Hero, Don Pedro agrees she is worthy of being loved; however, there is a small problem: Don Pedro has already promised Hero's father that Don Pedro will marry Hero himself. Therefore, Don Pedro must come up with a plan to woo Hero on Claudio's behalf. His plan is to pretend to be Claudio, ask for her hand, and then break his promise to her father while also informing him of the good news, as we see in the following passage:

I will assume thy part in some disguise
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart
And take her hearing prisoner with the force
And strong encounter of my amorous tale.
Then after to her father will I break;
And the conclusion is, she shall be thine. (I.i.281-87)

To a wise reader, the plan sounds unlikely to succeed for it depends on Hero's ability to be tricked. Surely there is a difference between Don Pedro's and Claudio's voices that she would recognize? What's more, wouldn't she prefer to hear amorous words straight from Claudio's mouth, and wouldn't she feel deceived when she learns she has been tricked? However, the plan does work to secure Hero's hand in marriage to Claudio. To the wise reader, the plan also seems unnecessary: Why couldn't Don Pedro simply directly speak with Hero's father about the situation? Why use deception? Since we need to believe Hero can be tricked by Don Pedro and believe that the deception is necessary, we can see how the reader needs to employ suspension of disbelief in order to continue following the play.

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