Talk:Much Ado About Nothing

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Shouldn't this page be at Much Ado about Nothing, in accordance with usual English capitalization rules (in which prepositions aren't captitalized)? —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 17:01, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

  • Well, I guess I prefer it with four capitals, which is what it has on the cover of these books: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]. The Arden and New Penguin Shakespeare both use all caps, which does not help us, although you can see capitalisation hinted at on the NPS cover [6]. My vote is to keep it here, I think. AndyJones 17:34, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
Fair enough. My Riverside Shakespeare has it as Much Ado about Nothing, but I suppose it's outvoted. I don't feel strongly about it, really. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 21:37, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
In the Associated Press style guide, it says that all words (including prepositions) with four or more letters are supposed to be capitalized.
Theshibboleth 02:38, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

"hey nonny nonny"[edit]

What does this mean? The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .

'Nonny' is just a nonsense word. OED says it's frequently used 'as a cover for in- delicate allusions.' There are a few lines on the phrase in this article: Voice_instrumental_music. Hope that helps! -- Vary | Talk 19:40, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

A sort of Elizabethan "Awopbopalooba alopbamboom"...Brickie 17:29, 15 December 2006 (UTC)


In English class we learned that Much Ado was a tragicomedy. AtmanDave 01:47, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

So, what's your point? AndyJones 12:36, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

The article states it as a comedy. Obviously, I don't think it makes a big difference, but I thought I worth mentioning. I think most sources list it as a comedy, though. AtmanDave 02:27, 3 May 2006 (UTC)


I remember hearing somewhere that when the play first came out, its title would've been pronounced "Much Ado About Noting." This of course would give it a double meaning, and the whole "noting motif" is referenced several times in the play, such as

"Claudio. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of signior Leonato?

Benedick. I noted her not, but I lookt on her" To me, this would seem an interesting bit of trivia to put up.

  • Yes, I've heard that point. Also that nothing = "no thing" was a recognised pun on the female genitals in Shakespeare's time, which would be an even more interesting piece of trivia to put up. (cf Hamlet to Ophelia: "That's a fair thought to lie between maid's legs ... nothing.") This page could have a whole section on its title. maybe I'll do that one day. AndyJones 17:34, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
  • But is there any evidence for this? I don't believe there was any period in the history of English when nothing was pronounced the same as nothing. AJD 04:38, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
  • It was in my giant Shakespeare tome. I added a reference for this. IrisWings 05:00, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

Richard Grant White observed that ‘Noting’ and ‘Nothing’ sound much the same in Elizabethan English; Mr. White’s conclusion came in the fact that noting implies watching. - Mr William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, and poems, ed. R.D. White, 2nd edition, Boston mass. 1st volume rinner_3333

It is also supposed to have a double meaning as a sexual inuendo refering to nothing being 0, thus relating to the vagina. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:56, 24 September 2007 (UTC)


The previous version of the sypnosis contains so many errors that I have reverted to an earlier version. Please do not presume anything not in the play.

Errors include:

1) Don Pedro was not involved in a war with his brother "who attempted to usurp his throne" 2) There is no indication Claudio and Hero are acquainted before the war 3) Don John hence was not "bitter over his recent defeat" Mandel 10:47, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

1) Act I scene 3, Conrad to Don John: "You have of late stood out against your brother, and he hath taken you newly into his grace."
2) Act I scene 1, Claudio to Don Pedro: "When you went onward on this ended action, I looked upon her with a soldier's eye."
3) See (1).
AJD 15:50, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
My memory fails me, but some retorts.
1) "Standing out against your brother" does not necessarily mean rebelling against him militarily. Even if Don John did (a huge assumption), this need not be the same compaign.
2) Even if this line means they were acquainted before, it merely means Claudio was not interested in Hero until now (he had looked upon her with an austere "soldier's" eye and not anything else) Later Claudio convinces himself it was otherwise, but whether that is the truth or what Claudio "assumes" is debatable. ("Appearance" and "truth" is a major theme of this play, no?)
1) See (1). Mandel 06:55, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
1) Some assumptions just make sense. This could be argued, but most readings seem to support that the recent battle was against Don John. See (3).
2) The full line is "I looked upon her with a soldier's eye,/That liked, but had a rougher task in hand / Than to drive liking to the name of love."
3) Don John sounds pretty bitter to me: "This may prove food to / my displeasure. That young start-up hath all the glory of my / overthrow. If I can cross him any way I bless myself every way." (1.3.51-53) IrisWings 10:13, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
This assumption does not make sense. One would not believe Don John if he has the temerity to rebel against his brother militarily, at least not so soon. Would you trust a defeated foe in battle? Mandel 06:34, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
I? No. But blame Shakespeare, because it's in there. :P ("Stood out," in the instance above, means "rebelled" according to the annotations in my script.)
If you have a specific suggestion to improve this article, please just come out and say it. Pointing out what's wrong without offering a solution isn't very helpful (to me, at least). If you would care to make a constructive suggestion, I'm sure anyone would be more than happy to listen. ^_^ IrisWings 07:34, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
I don't really understand what you are getting at. My solution is to change it, but before I do I feel it is basic courtesy to show and argue out why I am changing it here, in the talk page. This is the way Wikipedia works. Your self-assumption of the text is leading you nowhere. We all know 'stood out' here means to 'stand up against' and in some ways, 'rebel'. But how would you know it was "militarily", and that it was the same compaign? The New Cambridge edition suggests it might but concedes "it is not very clear"; Oxford Shakespeare doesn't even annotate the line. This line did state that Don John stood against his brother for something, for which he was forgiven, but did not indicate what the offense is. Mandel 09:36, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
If you want to change it, why not do so yourself? It doesn't seem like you're very willing to listen to any evidence I give, no matter how compelling. IrisWings 19:36, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
OK, i see, probably the NCS editor is doing a bad job. I apologize.
I'm hoping that I or someone else will soon have the opportunity to rewrite this section anyway, as it's mostly in-universe context. As it stands, it has too much information about the characters, which can just as well remain in the Character section, and it is just restatement of the scene breakdown anyway. (Which, to be fair, is my fault.)
I plan to rewrite the synopsis to include more discussions ABOUT the plot rather than just recounting it unless someone else does so first. I hope everyone can be sure I won't assume facts not in the play. :P IrisWings 22:36, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
IrisWings, writing about the plot should be in another section. The synopsis should remain a recounting of the plot, but it should be accurate, not overly long and devoid of self-assumptions.
To clarify, when I said writing "about" the plot, I simply meant to make it less in-universe, which I or someone else needs to do. When I wrote the original draft, I was brand-new and didn't realize that a simple summary would not suffice. IrisWings 10:13, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
The character section is also very POV. Benedick, a courtier? Says who? There is no indication he was ever involved in any court affairs, as the play stands he was merely a soldier. "Beatrice enjoys taunting men"? Why not say she enjoys taunting people? Claudio "the right-hand man of Don Pedro"? Hero "compassionate"? Don Pedro "talkative"? Mandel 06:55, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Benedick as courtier is all from my source. I'm not conversant with the Book of the Courtier, but Stephen Greenblatt is. Surely we may defer to expert analysts?
  • When in the work does Beatrice taunt any women? She behaves playfully with her cousin, and is cross with Margaret, but she taunts Benedick and Don Pedro. The play is, in part, about Beatrice's misandry and Benedick's misogyny, as mild as their feelings may actually be.
  • Leonato states at 1.1.8-9, "I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio." The messenger goes on to describe Claudio's battle prowess and Don Pedro's reward. Throughout the play, Don John is continually hanging around Claudio and offering to do him favors. Perhaps "right-hand man" is imprecise, but I associate him with Cassio from Othello.
  • I call Hero compassionate because many a woman would be highly unwilling to forgive and marry the man who had publicly shamed her.
  • I suppose Don Pedro isn't as talkative as Benedick, but he certainly does take control in social situations. It also makes sense to contrast him with Don John, who is "not of many words." (1.1.127)
Please do not assume that I did not a) read and b) research this work. I cited my sources, which support my assertions. This article is about a work of literature, not a scientific fact. In order to be written about, literature must be interpreted, which is by necessity a subjective process. I attempted to write in generalities with which the bulk of readers would agree.
I would like to see this article moved up to A status soon, and arguing certainly won't accomplish that. However, I have done my best to write accurately and cautiously, and to support my work. I feel that your comments to me are somewhat condescending, and I would like to communicate in a more productive manner. IrisWings 10:13, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
I am not condescending towards anyone, simply because I have no idea who wrote what, but some of the things in this article simply does not tally with what the text offers. Please don't take this personally - all my comments are directed at the state of the article, not at the writer(s), but at Wikipedia one must listen to comments even if they are criticisms.
IrisWings, assumption is a very dangerous game. It defies NPOV and invites controversy. Benedick is not a courtier (there is no evidence he holds any post in court), Claudio is not the "right-hand man" of Don Pedro (he is merely a soldier who has distinguished himself in the last compaign). The definition of "compassionate" is one who is "sympathetic towards others". Also, Don Pedro being talkative is just a personal opinion. This being a play, obviously you expect characters to speak a little? Would you say Hamlet is a talkative character? Mandel 06:34, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
My understanding of the NPOV rule isn't that it intends us to source every statement. We are not idiots; we can assume that common knowledge and common interpretations will be helpful to the readers of articles. Isn't that the point--to provide a useful background for readers? Readers aren't idiots, either; they understand that some generalization is necessary.
I hold with my source, which is evidence enough for me. Aren't professional sources what we're supposed to use for support?
By the way, I found the line that says Claudio is Don Pedro's "right hand." It's at 1.3.39-40.
Yes, I own a dictionary. ;) If you feel the bulk of readers would disagree with "compassionate," please choose a more appropriate descriptor for Hero.
And, no. I wouldn't call Hamlet talkative. lol IrisWings 07:34, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
The source we should use is the Shakespearean text, not Stephen Greenblatt. Greenblatt is not the play's author, he could only offer his own POV interpretation of the play. Greenblatt sees Benedick as a courtier, but how much of it is valid is debatable.
Just axe the term "compassionate". Mandel 09:36, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
Ah, but whenever I do offer the text as evidence, you either refuse to answer, or you make a circular argument about it.
Stephen Greenblatt is an expert. Shakespeare is dead, so it's not like we can ask him what he meant. All we have is the text and the research of experts. I can't believe that you're trying to refute my source now...
And, no offense, but it doesn't really seem like you're that familiar with the text yourself. You've made a lot of assertions on this page that I and others have directly refuted with evidence from the text.
If you want to delete "compassionate," do so yourself. I won't engage in some petty reversion war. IrisWings 19:36, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
Oh, that Benedick is "handsome" is another baseless assumption. Mandel 06:51, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
Baseless? Really?
"Signor Benedick / For shape, for bearing, argument, and valour / Goes foremost in report through Italy." (3.2.95-97)
I suppose not all actors who play the part would be considered handsome, but it is clearly the intention. IrisWings 07:43, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
You mean 3.1.95-97. Yes, Iriswings, for a play so much involved in "noting", in the mistrust of words, "clothing" and outward appearances, you have to choose this line to illustrate the fact!
Look at the dramatic context of the scene and tell me if what Hero and Ursula says can be taken at face value. Hero says Claudio is the "foremost man" in Italy; would you trust this descriptor or what we learn from the play itself, that he is merely a person easily deceived by appearance?
If you have been involved in any matchmaking, you should know the superlatives there can never be trusted. Hero and Ursula are "marketing" Benedick, and hence I would never think Benedick is so "hot" in Italy. Mandel 09:36, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
I probably could have found some other examples, but I didn't really feel the need to beat a dead horse.
The remainder of the dramatic context is that Benedick is a well-known lady-killer, and that he and Beatrice previously had some sort of relationship.
Now you're not only refusing my interpretation and an expert's, you're refusing the text itself.
I have tried to keep it light, but now I'm tired of arguing. Please contribute more respectfully and productively. IrisWings 19:36, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
I better say my piece and let you get on with this.
"I and the others"--oh no, it's only you.
I don't pretend to be an expert on S, but what we both have are S's texts. Maybe it's all do to my prof's bad teaching. "don't quote from another author to substantiate your own argument! Quote from the original author himself! You have a brain--Christ's sake, think!" Whatever. Happy editing. Mandel 22:37, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
Why not add a plot controversies section, in which these main lines of argument can be briefly addressed (It shouldn't take over the whole article) ? InternetGoomba (talk) 17:42, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

Breakdown of Scenes[edit]

Is this section necessary? Is it just too much? If the synopsis section were not a simple summary, but was more out-of-universe, would it be more or less neccessary? Could it be re-written to be more concise?

I still believe this is the best format for theatrical (as opposed to literary) study of the play, but what does everyone else think? IrisWings 10:18, 5 November 2006 (UTC)


The new image of Beatrice is lovely; however, I'm concerned that it doesn't represent THE Beatrice from Much Ado. I'm also uncertain if Beatrice is even the title of this painting, since I could only find it called Portrait of a Woman [7].

I agree that this article needs more images, but I wanted to verify this, nonetheless. IrisWings 20:18, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

It's from Shakespeare Illustrated. (In general, if you click on an image to enlarge it, information about the source should be there.) It doesn't really match my mental image of Beatrice, but that's who it was created to be.
I'll keep an eye out for other free images, but there doesn't seem to be very much out there. —Celithemis 20:33, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I see. I had checked that site before and didn't see it, so it must have been added recently. Thanks for clarifying. ^_^
Also, I found some illustrations on this site,[8] but I don't quite understand when it's fair to use an image, and the policy page kind of scared me off. IrisWings 22:08, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
It's too bad we don't have information on the artist for those engravings -- chances are good that he or she died more than 70 years ago, in which case the images would be public domain worldwide. Anything published in the 19th century anywhere in the world is public domain in the U.S., though, so the images can definitely be uploaded with that license tag. (On the Licensing: dropdown when you upload an image, the option is listed as "First published in the U.S. before 1923," but it actually includes this case as well.) —Celithemis 22:48, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

What does this line mean?[edit]

I've often watched and enjoyed the K. Branagh version of Much Ado About Nothing movie. What does this line mean?

It keeps me on the windy side of care.

It's from a conversation between Beatrice and the Prince. He starts, "In faith my lady you have a merry heart." She replies, "Yes, my lord I thank it, poor fool. It keeps me on the windy side of care."

Does it mean that she is light hearted or doesn't care about anything?

It means it keeps her free of care; that is, of trouble or worry. To be on the windy side means to be on the side from which the wind blows rather than the side the wind blows to, in other words, to be out of the wind, the wind in this case being care.
BPK 17:10, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
The allusion is to sailing: when you are on the windy side of, say, a rocky island, you can steer the ship since the wind is blowing it along and thus you have control over it. On the lee side, there is no wind so the ship drifts with the currents and you have no control over it. In the latter case it is much more likely that the ship will end up on the rocks. Hence it's much better to be on the windy side of care than on the lee side. -- Derek Ross | Talk 06:14, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

Throwing caution to the wind comes to mind. Not sure if it is related to the quote though. Nina 06:29, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

An old sense of 'windy' is 'wary' or 'cautious' or even 'nervous,' ready to make a run for it. To be on the windy side of care is to be more than usually careful. However, I cannot find this meaning in a modern dictionary and am repeating an expression used by my grandmother from 19th century Yorkshire. So - "she's windy" - does not mean that she talks a lot. She is circumspect, or suspicious and timid, and keeps herself safe. A related expression is 'best to be on the safe side.' For example, I'm windy about opening email attachments from unknown senders; best to be on the safe side and delete them. --Steve (talk) 21:07, 10 October 2009 (UTC)


I've said this on other pages, too, and I hate to sound like a nag, but at some point each of the characters (at least the main ones, anyway) from Much Ado will all need their own individual pages. So anyone willing to take it on would be doing a great service. --BeastKing89 07:36, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Would the person from a dynamic IP beginning 85.178 please come to this talk page to explain why they keep removing the "Characters" section. It's always done without edit summary. An undiscussed blanking of an entire section is likely to be reverted, so please say here why you think that section shouldn't be in the article. Thanks. Stratford490 (talk) 18:36, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

I've reverted the characters section to a very old, essentially stub version. The material I took out was added by 03:33 21 Feb 2008 [9], and appears to have been copied directly from SparkNotes[10]. Perhaps the anon who was blanking the section saw the copyvio too. Kurt (talk) 07:06, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Popular phrase[edit]

Shouldnt there be a separate article for the phrase? Has it become popular already? Or is it an idiom? I saw the phrase somewhere but wasnt sure what it meant. I found the answer somewhere deep in this article. kawaputratorque 10:25, 16 August 2007 (UTC)


This series of characters has recently appeared in every line of a list at "Adaptations" I tried it, but nothing happened. This untidy addition has turned up in quite a few articles recently; what's it about, please? --Old Moonraker (talk) 06:27, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Looks like it was the last edit by Smatprt that introduced it along with an unrelated change; which probably means either that he's using some kind of edit-assist script, or that he's using the Rich Text Editor / WYSIWYG editing mode and there's a bug in whichever he's using that introduces these. It could of course be browser weirdness, but I can't really see how that'd happen. Smatprt? Have you added any scripts recently? Or are using one that might have been updated recently? --Xover (talk) 07:23, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I've tried reverting and then re-making Smatprt's edit. I think that's fixed the immediate problem. It would still be useful to know what's going wrong, though. AndyJones (talk) 09:25, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the pointers: I've followed the suggested "User contributions" trail and cleared out some more. --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:48, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I use wikEd, but have been for quite a while, and have made to changes to my preferences in ages. There must be a bug somewhere? What should I do?Smatprt (talk) 14:15, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I just restored my default settings and turned off wikEd. Let's se if that will do it.Smatprt (talk) 14:21, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, that did it. How does one get that bug fixed?Smatprt (talk) 14:28, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I went to the wikEd help page to report the bug and it had already been reported. The creator reverted to the older version while he tries to fix the problem. I reloaded the older version and did a test edit, with no click-click appearing, so the issue should be resolved.Smatprt (talk) 15:42, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

The Motifs Section[edit]

The motifs section is almost an exact copy of that on No Fear Shakespeare. Considering NFS is written by professionals. I would say that someone copied it, yet there is no mention of it in the References? Am I mistaken? Feel free to correct me... Wllm t (talk) 02:39, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Can you be more specific? I checked some of passages from the online version but they seem quite different from the same topics here. I couldn't find it at all in the print version (courtesy of Google Books: I don't own this). --Old Moonraker (talk) 07:03, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Need a disambiguation page[edit]

With several notable adaptations of this play, each having their own Wikipedia article, this article really needs a disambiguation page. I don't know how to create one, so can someone else create this? (See Hamlet for an example of a similar article with a disambiguation page) - Orayzio (talk) 21:22, 24 October 2011 (UTC)


I'd be inclined to remove this link ("Online rental £5.99") as WP:SPAM. Other views? --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:06, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

I agree, and have made the change. a13ean (talk) 15:27, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. --Old Moonraker (talk) 15:31, 16 December 2011 (UTC)


Should the plot summary mention that the play is set in Spain? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

The play is set in the Sicilian city of Messina, now a part of Italy. It was under Spanish rule at the time, but I think saying that is set in Spain will confuse readers. People wondering where Messina will find out easily enough. Sjakkalle (Check!) 08:26, 29 January 2012 (UTC)


An understanding of English primogeniture is necessary for a modern audience to understand Much Ado in the way that audiences of Shakespeare's era understood it. An understanding of the pitiless requirements of primogeniture adds understanding and deepens the emotional impact at each step and every aspect of the plot.

Primogeniture -- the English law that the husbands lands would go at this death to his bride's oldest son (but not his jewels or other wealth) -- underlies the story lines of English and European stage and literature during the renaissance and before. Marriage was a legal contract between families, negotiated by lawyers, under which the family of the bride's expectancy that one of their future kinsmen would be one day seized of the husband's lands was compensated by the payment of a large dowry in an amount commensurate to the expected value of the future interest. The resulting interest in the bride's eldest son was a valuable and indefeasible interest that could not be changed even if the husband later attempted by writing a will to disinherit the bride's eldest son.

The role of primogeniture is central in framing the action and plot in Much Ado, as it is in many of Shakespeare's plays. The effects of primogeniture are in part explicit -- a bride should be wise, fair, and true -- true, and a maiden at marriage so that her eldest son will be the son of the groom. A husband wears horns if cuckolded, which meant that another man's son could inherit the husband's lands due to the unchaste habits of his wife. And it is in important part implicit. An imputation of lack of chastity is central to the plot. A woman accused of unchastity was damaged goods, none could take her as bride without facing later innuendo or perhaps the reality of a bastard inheriting his lands. Her father might wish her dead if she were found to have squandered her marriageability by engaging in premarital sex.

The key malefactor in Much Ado is the character of John, the bastard brother of the prince. Bastardy law provided a necessary exception to the doctrine that the oldest son of the groom would inherit. Only the oldest legit, or lawful son, i.e., the son of the marriage, following the payment of the dowry, would inherit the groom's lands. Bastard sons of the husband, particularly if older than the eldest son of the bride, were viewed as potential rival claimants to the lands of the husband, and bitterly resented and reviled as a result by the family of the bride. This antipathy is central to much of Renaissance and medieval law and literature, and seen again here.

"Further Reading" Section[edit]

User:Tom Reedy Why was this cite deleted? IIRC the article is indexed in World Shakespeare Bibliography. Knitwitted (talk) 02:24, 4 June 2014 (UTC)