Use of Wordplay in Much Ado about Nothing

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      Shakespeare uses wordplay to make his audience laugh in the play Much Ado about Nothing. His characters take turns playing on one another's words, such as Beatrice does in the opening scene of the play when the messenger arrives, announcing the approach of the prince and his soldiers. For example, when the messenger says of Benedick: "And a good soldier too, lady." Beatrice turns the messenger's words around so that rather than meaning that Benedick was good in war, it sounds like Benedick was good in bed. Beatrice takes the word too that the messenger has spoken and replaces it with the word too. Beatrice says: "And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he to a lord?" By making this play on words, Beatrice has wiped out all of Benedick's military conquests and brings the conversation down a few notches, wrapping the message in sexuality.

      When the conversation continues, Beatrice turns the messenger's words again. "A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed with all honorable virtues," the messenger says. In other words, he is saying that Benedick can stand as an equal to any lord or any man. However, Beatrice focuses on the word stuffed and changes the whole perception. "He is no less than a stuffed man," she says, implying that either Benedick is full of himself or is a replica of a human being but not completely real.

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