Friday, January 04, 2013

Alice Reviews: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING by Shakespeare

From January through December 2013
Da gennaio a dicembre 2013

I am happy to announce I finished reading MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (ISBN: 9780486282725), the first book for my Italian Reading Challenge. It is also my very first Shakespeare read! Frankly, I felt challenged because this, my friends, is a totally different kind of animal for me. I have always avoided Shakespeare in school and succeeded at it. Strangely, I am enjoying myself now.

Here's an introduction to all of the characters in the play. Leonato is the governor of Messina who lives in the idyllic Italian town of Messina, a port on the island of Sicily. Leonato has a lovely young daughter, Hero, and a playful, clever niece, Beatrice. All of them live together in Leonato's house together with his elderly brother, Antonio (Beatrice's father). Leonato prepares to welcome some friends home from a war who include Don Pedro, a prince who is a close friend of Leonato, and two fellow soldiers: Claudio, a young Lord of Florence, and Benedick, a young lord of Padua. Benedick is a clever and witty man; I love the lively war of words between him and Beatrice. Then there is also Don John who is Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother. This dude is a villain and troublemaker.

Although the language is a tad complicated for me, the plot isn't. In summary, Claudio falls in love with Hero, but their love faces some obstacles, thanks to the malicious plot by Don John. Benedick and Beatrice on the other hand are forever battling each other out in words and care not to admit that they, in fact, do love one another. Very witty. They are my favorite couple in the play.

Benedick is intent on staying and dying a bachelor. Here's something I plucked out of Act I, Scene I.
D. PEDRO. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.

BENE. With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord; not with love: prove that ever I lose more blood with love than I will get again with drinking, pick out my eyes with a ballad-maker's pen, and hang me up at the door of a brothel-house for the sign of blind Cupid.
However, thanks to the clever plotting of his friends, Benedick manages to confess his love and Beatrice admits "defeat" for they both have fallen in love. Methinks they are perfect for each other!

Now, back to the poor Claudio and Hero. The plot to separate them succeeded but soon the truth prevails, all thanks to constable Dogberry (I like that name!) and his confederates. They investigate the matter and bring evidence to the house of Leonato. I have truly enjoyed the entire proceeding.

The moral of the story is, never say never (as in the case of Benedick and Beatrice), and do not believe everything you see or hear. It is not always what it looks like! Lastly, love will make you do crazy things.

I liked this play so much, I've prepared a YouTube playlist featuring an 11-part video for the 1993 Much Ado About Nothing movie adaptation, and the latest retold version.