Cover image for Much ado about nothing
Much ado about nothing
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Publication Information:
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1998.

Physical Description:
ix, 214 pages ; 20 cm.
General Note:
First published by the Clarendon Press, 1993.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR2828.A2 Z58 1993 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Sparkling with the witty dialogue between Beatrice and Benedicts, Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's most enjoyable and theatrically successful comedies.This edition offers a newly edited text and an exceptionally helpful and critically aware introduction. Paying particular attention to analysis of the play's minor characters, Sheldon P Zitner discusses Shakespeare's transformation of his source material. He rethinks the attitudes to genderrelations that underlie the comedy and determine its view of marriage.Allowing for the play's openness to reinterpretation by successive generations of readers and peformers, Zitner provides a socially analytic stage history, advancing new views for the actor as much as for the critic.

Author Notes

William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School.

At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry.

By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true.

Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play.

Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This entry in the Manga Shakespeare line satisfies many iconographic and aesthetic requirements while repackaging this comedy, which plays on deception's role in romance. At some important points, visual expression really does matter for communicating plot content, and all along the way, the costumed manga characters, sliced panels, and perspectives help to create and sustain mood. As most of the text is taken whole from Shakespeare, it helps to hear the phrasing aloud, which is a very atypical way to access manga. A suitable choice as a supplement to Shakespeare studies.--Goldsmith, Francisca Copyright 2009 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-These books depict Shakespeare's plays through black-and-white paneled storytelling. Much Ado is set in Italy during the late 1800s, using Victorian clothing to set the scene. Vieceli uses different styles of manga art with great effect, from "chibi" or "super-deformed" characters to show excessive cuteness or childish banter to the dramatic, overflowing tears that exaggerate a character's grief. This play is an excellent choice for adaptation, given its comedic moments and over-the-top emotions, and Appignanesi adapts it beautifully. King Lear is more challenging to convert to the style, made no less so by the choice of setting: the North American frontier, with Lear himself cast as an Algonquin chief. The traitorous Edmund is cast as one of the few African Americans. He is more sympathetic than in other productions, but he remains a villain. Ilya works hard to wrap real historical and cultural details into the panels, attempting authenticity instead of stereotypical images that too often accompany Native Americans in comics. However, there are some questions about the accuracy of the appearance of the fools particularly; they are costumed as "clowns," one with a vaguely Southwestern appearance and the other wearing the entire hide of a wolf. In addition, Ilya places some gratuitous nudity and cleavage into the script, and the depiction of Lear's daughter Regan as sometimes pale and sometimes dark-skinned is confusing. Still, both books are likely to draw manga readers further into Shakespeare's plays, and students of the Bard may get new ideas about how his works can be presented to modern audiences.-Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



[Dramatis Personae don pedro, Prince of Aragon leonato, Governor of Messina antonio, his brother benedick, a young lord of Padua beatrice, Leonato's niece claudio, a young lord of Florence hero, Leonato's daughter margaret,       gentlewomen attending Hero ursula, don john, Don Pedro's bastard brother borachio,         followers of Don John conrade, dogberry, Constable in charge of the Watch verges, the Headborough, or parish constable, Dogberry's partner a sexton (francis seacoal) first watchman second watchman (george seacoal) balthasar, a singer attending Don Pedro friar francis a boy messenger to Leonato Another messenger Attendants, Musicians, Members of the Watch, Antonio's Son, and other Kinsmen scene: Messina] 1.1 Location: Messina. Before Leonato's house. 4 leagues units of about three miles 6 action battle. 7 sort rank. name reputation, or noble name. 13 remembered rewarded 16 bettered surpassed 18 will who will 21-3 joy . . . bitterness joy could show a decorous moderation only by weeping at the same time. 26 kind natural [1.1] A Enter Leonato, Governor of Messina, Hero his daughter, and Beatrice his niece, with a Messenger. leonato [holding a letter]  I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Aragon comes this night to Messina. messenger  He is very near by this. He was not three leagues off when I left him. 4 leonato  How many gentlemen have you lost in this action? 6 messenger  But few of any sort and none of name. 7 leonato  A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honor on a young Florentine called Claudio. messenger  Much deserved on his part and equally remembered by Don Pedro. He hath borne himself  13 beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion. He hath indeed better bettered expectation than you must expect of me to tell  16 you how. leonato  He hath an uncle here in Messina will be  18 very much glad of it. messenger  I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him, even so much that joy  21 could not show itself modest enough without a badge  22 of bitterness. 23 leonato  Did he break out into tears? messenger  In great measure. leonato  A kind overflow of kindness. There are no  26 29 Mountanto montanto, an upward blow or thrust in fencing 35 pleasant jocular 37 bills placards, advertisements 38 at the flight to a long-distance archery contest. (Beatrice mocks Benedick's pretentions as a lady killer.)   my uncle's fool (Perhaps a professional fool in her uncle's service.) 39 subscribed for accepted on behalf of 40 bird-bolt a blunt-headed arrow used for fowling. (Sometimes used by children because of its relative harmlessness and thus conventionally appropriate to Cupid.) 43 tax disparage 44 meet even, quits 47 musty victual stale food.   holp helped 48 valiant trencherman great eater 49 stomach appetite. (With a mocking suggestion also of "courage.") 51 soldier to a lady lady killer. (With a play on to/too.) 52 to compared to 53 stuffed amply supplied 55-6  a stuffed man i.e., a figure stuffed to resemble a man. 56 the stuffing i.e., what he's truly made of.   well . . . mortal i.e., well, we all have our faults. faces truer than those that are so washed. How much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping! beatrice  I pray you, is Signor Mountanto returned  29 from the wars or no? messenger  I know none of that name, lady. There was none such in the army of any sort. leonato  What is he that you ask for, niece? hero  My cousin means Signor Benedick of Padua. messenger  Oh, he's returned, and as pleasant as ever  35 he was. beatrice  He set up his bills here in Messina and chal-  37 lenged Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading  38 the challenge, subscribed for Cupid and challenged  39 him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he  40 killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? For indeed I promised to eat all of his killing. leonato  Faith, niece, you tax Signor Benedick too  43 much, but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not. 44 messenger  He hath done good service, lady, in these wars. beatrice  You had musty victual, and he hath holp to  47 eat it. He is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an  48 excellent stomach. 49 messenger  And a good soldier too, lady. beatrice  And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he  51 to a lord? 52 messenger  A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed  53 with all honorable virtues. beatrice  It is so, indeed, he is no less than a stuffed  55 man. But for the stuffing--well, we are all mortal. 56 leonato  You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her. They never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them. 62 five wits i.e., not the five senses, but the five faculties: memory, imagination, judgment, fantasy, common sense.   halting limping 65 difference heraldic feature distinguishing a junior member or branch of a family. (With a play on the usual sense.) 65-7  it is . . . creature i.e., his feeble wit is all he has left to identify him as rationally human. 68 sworn brother brother in arms (frater juratus, an allusion to the ancient practice of swearing brotherhood). 70 faith allegiance, or fidelity 72 block mold for shaping hats. 73-4  in your books in favor with you, in your good books. (But Beatrice, in her reply, takes books in the literal sense of something to be found in a library.) 75 An If. (Also in line 131.) 77 squarer quarreler 81 he i.e., Benedick 83 presently immediately 84 the Benedick i.e., as if this were a disease 85 'a he 86 hold friends keep on friendly terms (so as not to earn your enmity) 88 run mad i.e., "catch the Benedick" 89 not . . . January i.e., not any time soon. beatrice  Alas! He gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits went halting off, and now  62 is the whole man governed with one; so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse, for it is all  65 the wealth that he hath left to be known a reasonable  66 creature. Who is his companion now? He hath every  67 month a new sworn brother. 68 messenger  Is't possible? beatrice  Very easily possible. He wears his faith but as  70 the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next block. 72 messenger  I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your  73 books. 74 beatrice  No. An he were, I would burn my study. But  75 I pray you, who is his companion? Is there no young squarer now that will make a voyage with him to the  77 devil? messenger  He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio. beatrice  Oh, Lord, he will hang upon him like a  81 disease! He is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble  83 Claudio! If he have caught the Benedick, it will cost  84 him a thousand pound ere 'a be cured. 85 messenger  I will hold friends with you, lady. 86 beatrice  Do, good friend. leonato  You will never run mad, niece. 88 beatrice  No, not till a hot January. 89 messenger  Don Pedro is approached. Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, and [Don] John the Bastard. don pedro  Good Signor Leonato, are you come to 92 your trouble i.e., the expense of entertaining me and my retinue. 93 encounter go to meet 98 charge social responsibility and expense 104 have it full are well answered 106 fathers herself shows by appearance who her father is. 109 his head i.e., with Leonato's white beard and signs of age 116 meet suitable. (With a pun on "meat.") 117 convert change 123 dear happiness precious piece of luck meet your trouble? The fashion of the world is to  92 avoid cost, and you encounter it. 93 leonato  Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of Your Grace. For trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but when you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave. don pedro  You embrace your charge too willingly.--I  98 think this is your daughter. [Presenting himself to Hero.]  leonato  Her mother hath many times told me so. benedick  Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her? leonato  Signor Benedick, no; for then were you a child. don pedro  You have it full, Benedick. We may guess  104 by this what you are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers herself. Be happy, lady, for you are like an 106 honorable father. benedick  If Signor Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as  109 like him as she is. [Don Pedro and Leonato talk aside.] beatrice  I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor Benedick. Nobody marks you. benedick  What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living? beatrice  Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick?  116 Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in  117 her presence. benedick  Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none. beatrice  A dear happiness to women! They would 123 else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I 125-6  I am . . . that I am of the same disposition in that matter, i.e., of loving no one. 129 scape escape.   predestinate inevitable (for any man who should woo Beatrice) 132 were i.e., is. 133 rare outstanding.   parrot-teacher i.e., one who would teach a parrot well, because you merely "parrot" my lines. 134 of my tongue taught to speak like me, i.e., incessantly 134-5  of yours taught to speak like you. 137 and . . . continuer i.e., and as much staying power in running as you have in talking. 139 a jade's trick i.e., an ill-tempered horse's habit of slipping its head out of the collar or stopping suddenly (just as Benedick proposes to abandon this exchange of witticisms when he thinks he has had the last word). 141 sum of all (Don Pedro and Leonato have been conversing apart on other matters.) 149 being since you are 153 Please it May it please 154 go together i.e., go arm in arm (thus avoiding the question of precedence in order of leaving). 154.1  Manent They remain onstage 157 noted her not gave her no special attention thank God and my cold blood I am of your humor for 125 that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a 126 man swear he loves me. benedick  God keep Your Ladyship still in that mind! So some gentleman or other shall scape a predestinate 129 scratched face. beatrice  Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such a face as yours were. 132 benedick  Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher. 133 beatrice  A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of 134 yours. 135 benedick  I would my horse had the speed of your tongue and so good a continuer. But keep your way, 137 i'God's name; I have done. beatrice  You always end with a jade's trick. I know 139 you of old. don pedro  That is the sum of all, Leonato. Signor 141 Claudio and Signor Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all. I tell him we shall stay here at the least a month, and he heartily prays some occasion may detain us longer. I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart. leonato  If you swear, my lord, you shall not be for- sworn. [To Don John] Let me bid you welcome, my lord, being reconciled to the Prince your brother. I owe 149 you all duty. don john  I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you. leonato  Please it Your Grace lead on? 153 don pedro  Your hand, Leonato. We will go together. 154 Exeunt. Manent Benedick and Claudio. claudio  Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signor Leonato? benedick  I noted her not, but I looked on her. 157 162 tyrant one cruel or pitiless in attitude 164 low short 175 case (1) jewel case (2) clothing, outer garments. (There is also a bawdy play on the meaning "female pudenda.") 176 sad serious.   flouting Jack i.e., mocking rascal 177-8  to tell . . . carpenter? i.e., are you mocking us with nonsense? (Cupid was blind, not sharp-eyed like a hunter, and Vulcan was a blacksmith, not a carpenter.) 178-9  to . . . song as the song expresses it. (Alluding perhaps to some popular song.) 184 with a fury by an avenging, infernal spirit 189-90  hath . . . suspicion? i.e., isn't there a man left alive who will regard marriage with a jaundiced eye? (A cap might be used, unsuccessfully perhaps, in an attempt to hide a cuckold's horns.) 191 Go to (An expression of impatience.) claudio  Is she not a modest young lady? benedick  Do you question me as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment? Or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex? 162 claudio  No, I pray thee, speak in sober judgment. benedick  Why, i'faith, methinks she's too low for 164 high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise. Only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other than she is, she were unhand- some, and being no other but as she is, I do not like her. claudio  Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee, tell me truly how thou lik'st her. benedick  Would you buy her, that you inquire after her? claudio  Can the world buy such a jewel? benedick  Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you 175 this with a sad brow? Or do you play the flouting Jack, 176 to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder and Vulcan a rare 177 carpenter? Come, in what key shall a man take you, to 178 go in the song? 179 claudio  In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on. benedick  I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter. There's her cousin, an she were not poss- essed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty as the 184 first of May doth the last of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you? claudio  I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife. benedick  Is't come to this? In faith, hath not the world 189 one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall 190 I never see a bachelor of threescore again? Go to, 191 i'faith; an thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, 193 wear . . . Sundays i.e., display the marks of your domestic enslavement resignedly. Excerpted from Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Charles Gildon: The Argument of ?Much Ado About Nothing?
Lewis Carroll: A Letter to Ellen Terry
George Bernard Shaw: Shakespeare?s Merry Gentlemen
Donald A. Stauffer: From Shakespeare?s World of Images
W. H. Auden: From The Dyer?s Hand
Carol Thomas Neely: Broken Nuptials in ?Much Ado About Nothing?
Sylvan Barnet: ?Much Ado About Nothing? on the Stage
Newly Added Essay:
Robert Smallwood: Three Ways to Begin ?Much Ado About Nothing?