Fudging the Outcome of Much Ado About Nothing

How the Villains, Don Pedro and Count Claudio, Are Allowed to Stay and Dance

in Critical Survey
Paul Rapley
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This article asserts that in Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare lays open the rottenness within an arbitrary system of government but does not dare carry the plot to its logical conclusion. The responses to events by the dominant nobles, a prince and a count, are not merely foolish and damaging, but, in light of the guidance of, among others, Girolamo Muzio and Baldassare Castiglione, deeply dishonourable. The playmakers, as the most talented team in the realm licensed for performance entertainment, create a historically credible set of characters, but, possibly because they wish to continue to benefit from their protected status and draw their regular customers, do not make explicit any radical questioning of rank and degree. An analysis of Margaret's role suggests a strategic ambiguity within the jocular ending.

Contributor Notes

Paul Rapley has worked on many award-winning national and international television productions, acquiring hands-on experience of the competing political, commercial, artistic and cultural pressures that influence the shaping of media products, both explicitly and in a multiplicity of subtle ways. His published writing includes guides to Jane Eyre and Siegfried Sassoon, and he has co-translated a play by Hagop Baronian. He studied at Cambridge University (English), The National Film and Television School, UK (directing, writing and editing), and The Open University, UK (MA English: intertextuality, with distinction), and is preparing to study for a doctorate. Email: paulrapley@btinternet.com

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