In what ways does Shakespeare present the themes of appearance and reality in Acts 1-2 of Much Ado about Nothing?
Appearance and reality are two major themes running throughout the play ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Quite often these two themes can get confused with characters not knowing what is true and what to believe. Shakespeare presents these very clearly throughout acts one and two; specifically by referring to events, characters and language.
One of the events which shows perfectly the themes of appearance and reality and how these two can get mixed up is the Masked Ball. There are many occasions within the masked ball that show deception and reality which all together build up to mass confusion. One moment which reflects these themes is the way that the unmasked men are ironically those with something to hide. The idea of masks sets itself up for trickery as masks hide the real identity of the wearer, meaning you can not tell who is who. Don John and Borachio are those who are trying to trick Claudio but these two characters are the only ones who are not masked. Theses ironic as it indicates they are open and trustworthy when in fact the opposite of this is true. Another moment reflecting these themes is the way Bea deceives Benedick. This can be seen by the way that Benedick tries to hide his identity to find out what she thinks of him, however Beatrice is well aware of this and takes this as an opportunity to mock him. This is shown when Beatrice says, “I am sure you know him well enough”. Shakespeare could have done this to highlight how well Beatrice knows Benedict as she can see right through his disguise. However it could also be because what she says foreshadows the events to come as she says, “strikes him into melancholy” and this is exactly what happens. Claudio is also easily tricked reflecting these themes. He attempts to dupe Don John by saying “you know me well I am him” when asked if he is Signor Benedick. However he end up being tricked himself. He does not think Hero loves him which shows how he has little faith and belief. He is easily persuaded to believe other things. Shakespeare does this as it foreshadows events to come in the play.
Shakespeare also presents these themes through his characters. Don John constructs an elaborate plan to destroy Claudio and Hero’s love. His evil scheming heavily juxtaposes the good natured plotting in the previous scenes. This helps to highli...