Much Ado About Nothing Play Analysis

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Gossip is the main driver of the various plotlines in Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing. The conflict in the play is shaped entirely around false rumor spread by characters and the hearsay that accompanies it. The characters’ actions are enormously affected by the conversations they overhear and their willingness to believe secondhand information over direct experience. Patricia Meyer Spacks states in her novel Gossip, that rumor in the play “creates its own territory using materials from the world at large to construct a new oral artifact” (Spacks, 1985, Location No. 315). New components are spontaneously introduced in the plot through gossip and hearsay, and are capable of changing the outcome of the play due to the power of words over characters. Gossip and hearsay are employed in Much Ado to deceive characters into revealing their true selves in order to promote social peace or breed conflict, to validate or vilify love, and to challenge the reputation and authority of characters.
Patricia Meyer Spacks’ Gossip reflects on the use of gossip and hearsay in literature to impel plots by illuminating the psychological and social dynamics of love. Spacks discusses the two main forms of gossip as having “malicious intent” or simply being “idle talk” (Spacks, 1985). In the former, characters gossip to further their own political and social ambitions by damaging the reputation of their enemies. Regarding this utilization of conversation, Spacks states, “Gossip manifests itself as distilled malice. It plays with …show more content…

In one aspect, gossip is used as a means of deception. There are two forms of this deception in Much Ado. The first deception “leads to social peace, to marriage, [and] to the end of deceit” while the second “breeds conflict and distrust” (Henze, 1971, p.

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