Plot & Subplot in Much Ado about Nothing

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      It is not clear, and this is unusual for Shakespeare' plays, which is the plot and which is the subplot in Much Ado about Nothing. There are two sets of lovers, not unusual in Shakespeare's comedies, but what appears to be the main focus of the play, the relationship between Hero and Claudio, is easily overshad-owed by the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick.

      Since Hero is the daughter of Leonato, whereas Beatrice is only his niece, it would seem that Hero's love affair would take center stage. However, Hero's and Claudio's lines are less entertaining, and some critics have even come right out and said they were dull. This is far from the praise that the dialogue between Beatrice and Benedick has received, going back as far as when the play was first introduced. At one point, the play was even retitled Beatrice and Benedick.

      However, it is Hero's and Claudio's relationship, dull though it may be, that drives the plot forward. Most of the action is dependent on what develops between them. Don John, for example, does not plot against Benedick but rather against Claudio. Benedick does not defile Beatrice's reputation as Claudio does Hero's, thus leading to the challenge against Claudio, the faked death of Hero, and finally, the wedding that closes the play. But if Beatrice and Benedick were removed from the play, chances are the play would completely disintegrate. Claudio and Hero's affair is not enough to carry the play on its own. First of all, they are not very funny; and since this is a comedy, they should at least be entertaining. There is little passion behind their words, and they take what is given to them and barely question it. On the other hand, the meat of the story, the part that draws audiences in and keeps them awake, is the sparring, and finally, the coming together, of Beatrice and Benedick, the true heroes of the play.

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