Much Ado About Nothing Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, why does Don John not want Claudio to marry Hero and sabotage the wedding?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are a couple of reasons why Don John tries to sabotage Hero's wedding. One reason is that Don John blames Claudio for preventing him from overthrowing his brother. Apparently, when Don John tried to overturn his brother's rule, Claudio, as Don Pedro's right-hand man, devised some clever tactics to prevent the overthrow and win this civil war for Don Pedro. Hence, Don John would love to get even with Claudio by hurting him in any way he can. The second and main reason why he wants to sabotage Claudio's wedding is that since Claudio and Don Pedro are close, by hurting Claudio, Don John will also hurt Don Pedro.

We see Don John blame Claudio for thwarting his attempt to overthrow his brother after Borachio tells him of Claudio's plans to marry Hero. We see Don John exclaim:

That young start-up hath all the glory of my overthrow. If I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way. (I.iii.54-56)

The phrase "young start-up" refers to the fact that Claudio has just started his military career, not only that, he has started as Don Pedro's right-hand man and gained a great deal of honor. When Don John says that Claudio "hath all the glory of [his] overthrow," he is referring to the fact that Don John has just tried to overthrow the prince's power and some how Claudio thwarted his plans, stripping Don John of the glory of being prince. Hence, we see that one reason why Don Pedro sabotages Claudio's wedding is that he wants to avenge himself on Claudio.

We also see references that show us just how much Don John resents his brother and would like to get even with him. Also in this scene, Don John complains about how he feels imprisoned by his brother, as we see in his lines:

I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking. (25-28)

The phrase "trusted with a muzzle" depicts a dog being muzzled by its master to prevent it from biting or barking and portrays Don John as a muzzled dog. The word "enfranchise" means to grant liberty to, like a slave (Random House Dictionary). The word "clog" refers to a heavy block of wood that is used in lieu of chains (Random House Dictionary). Hence, the phrase "enfranchised with a clog" means that he has been freed like a slave who is still being burdened with a clog in lieu of chains. In other words, this passage serves to show us that Don John feels imprisoned by Don Pedro and that he is ready to strike at his brother again, which shows us just how much he resents his brother. Since hurting Claudio would also hurt Don Pedro, we can say that the main reason why he sabotaged the wedding is to hurt his brother.

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wanderista | Student

That young start-up hath all the
glory of my overthrow: if I can cross him any way, I
bless myself every way.


Though I cannot be said to
be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied
but I am a plain-dealing villain.

are the key quotations that explain Don John's actions. Don John is a purely evil character, a classic antagonist. He enjoys causing trouble; it feeds his inner satisfaction. Don John has never liked Claudio, and messing with his wedding will prove very satisfying for him. This explains why Don John wanted to cause chaos at Hero and Claudio's wedding.

tbrowe | Student

In addition to the information already provided.... Claudio has been rising in social standing and notice, especially with Don Pedro.  Don Jon sees him filling the role that he should fill were he not an illigitimate son.  As Don Jon falls farther and farther from grace and the throne, Claudio grows ever closer to it.  Don JOn is in part motivated by jealousy.

revolution | Student

He is the noblest character in the social hierarchy and also the ultimate and main villain of the play. He always uses his power and his authority to positive ends but sometimes manipulates and deceives other people. It was his royal prerogative to do what he wants and what he pleases without any consideration to other people's feelings, and he won't be pulled back or undone by other people except himself.

So that's why he rejected Claudio to confess his love Hero but on the other hand, he insists of wooing Hero for Claudio himself. This shows that he likes manipulating people- which he is best in, just for the fun of it

brat | Student

As Don John was born out of wedlock, he is traditionally percieved as a "bad guy". He says himself, that he rejoices in others misery. The Elizabethan audience would have expected him to be a bitter man, as he is a "bastard" - he has no claim to inheritance etc... therefore he enjoys ruining others pleasure!

readingbooks17 | Student

Don John is the play's villain and largely an unmotivated villain at that. He describes himself as having an anti-social nature that will not try to fit in with others. He won't laugh at someone else's jokes or eat at someone else's meal time but, rather, will do things as he pleases, when he pleases. Don John operates by will. What he wishes is what he will do, undirected and unrestrained by others.