Features of Tragicomedy in Much Ado about Nothing

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      Technically, Much Ado about Nothing has all the elements of a Shakespearean comedy: It contains at least one journey of a young woman from the virginal state to that of matrimony, or the journey of a young woman out of her family's control into marriage. The trip is seldom smooth: obstacles are presented as the young lovers attempt to reach the day of their wedding. A comedy also requires some form of deception or the wearing of masks. And a comedy ends with a wedding. This play meets those criteria, but there is more. There is, for instance, the villainy of Don John to consider, as well as the shame of Hero and her supposed death.

      Because of these elements, some scholars have labeled Much Ado about Nothing as a tragicomedy, a cross between a tragedy and a comedy. By adding the tragic elements, in some ways hinting at Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, especially in the parallels between the friars and the mock deaths of Juliet and Hero, Shakespeare adds depth and tension to his comedy. Likewise, the addition of Don John and his tricks makes the audience question whether Hero and Claudio will ever really wed. Another tragic element is Beatrice's request that Benedick proves his love to her by killing Claudio and thus avenging the awful shame and ruin of Hero's reputation.

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