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Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

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Student Question

What point of view is used in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing?

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A point of view is the perspective from which a story is told. In Much Ado About Nothing, we see an objective third person point of view because we do not see the play unfolding through one character's eyes. We also see that there is sometimes a first person perspective as well when we are allowed into characters' thoughts.

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The point of view, or narrative mode, Shakespeare uses in his plays, like most plays, is the third person objective view point. We know that plays are narrated in third person because we do not see the play through one character's perspective; we do not frequently see the word I appear in the play. Instead, we see the play unfold through the eyes of the author who stands outside of the action, making it a third person point of view. We also know that it is an objective third person view point because the author can only relay the actions of the play from an objective standpoint, meaning what can be seen externally ("Literary Analysis Guide: Point of View"). The author cannot get inside character's heads.

However, while Shakespeare's plays are, for the most part, written in objective third person, at times he does allow us to see a first person perspective by allowing us to see the characters' thoughts as they relay them out loud. We especially see this in a few instances in Much Ado About Nothing. We see one instance of first person point of view when Shakespeare allows us into Benedick's head as Benedick complains out loud about how foolish  he thinks Claudio is being for having fallen in love and how foolish he thinks marriage is. Shakespeare uses a long soliloquy in Act 2, Scene 3 to portray Benedick's thoughts on love and marriage. We especially see Benedick call Claudio a fool in the lines:

I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love; and such a man is Claudio. (II.iii.7-11)

In other words, Benedick is saying that, like himself, Claudio once thought that love was foolish and mocked the acts of falling in love and marrying. But now, Claudio has fallen in love and become the object of what Claudio himself used to make fun of.

We are further allowed into Benedick's head as we see him complain about women in general saying that there is not a woman who possesses all the attributes of beauty, wisdom, and virtue, and, until he meets a woman that does have all of these, he will not fall in love, as we see in his lines, "[B]ut till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace" (25-26).  We are further allowed into Bendick's head when, after being tricked by Claudio and Don Pedro into believing that Beatrice loves him, he decides to return her affections, as we see in his line, "[F]or I will be horribly in love with her" (213-214).

We are similarly allowed into Beatrice's head when she is similarly tricked by Hero and Ursula into falling in love with Benedick. We witness Beatrice make the decision to abandon all pride and to return Benedick's affections because Hero and Ursula both say that Benedick deserves it, as we see in her lines, "And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee ... For others say thou dost deserve, and I / Believe it better than reportingly" (III.i.113-118).

Hence, we see that like all plays, Shakespeare used an objective third person point of view, but every once in a while we are allowed to see the characters' thoughts, which makes those moments a first person point of view.

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