Recommended for Who?
Shakespeare isn’t as difficult to read as most people think. If you can get used to his lengthy way of speaking, you can read any of his plays pretty quickly. I would recommend Much Ado About Nothing for seventh grade and older because 1) Shakespeare had an extremely large vocabulary and 2) he also added a scene with several matter-of-fact lines that accuse a character of committing adultery (more on that later).
Olivia’s Rating: 5 stars out of 5
While I really liked The Taming of the Shrew and The Comedy of Errors, this has to be my new favorite play by William Shakespeare. The witty humor, the silly romances, and the hidden wisdom mixed together make an almost-perfect read, if you can ignore the moments when William Shakespeare gets long-winded :).
Here’s the story: After warring and having all sorts of fun, Don Pedro, his mischievous brother Don John, the young and handsome Claudio, and the shy yet clever Benedick return to Messina and visit their old friend Leonato. Leonato happens to have both a pretty daughter named Hero and a pretty niece named Beatrice. Beatrice is an old enemy of Benedick. Claudio immediately falls in love with Hero, and once their wedding is settled, Don John devises two sly tricks. He tries to trick Benedick and Beatrice into falling in love, and also tries to ruin Claudio and Hero’s good fortune. With two people who hate each other falling in love and two people who love each other starting to doubt each other, Shakespeare takes several unexpected turns in this magnificent tale.
What is Good (Spoilers!)
As Suzannah Rowntree says at Vintage Novels, Shakespeare had a fondness for writing about wise and foolish lovebirds. Foolish lovers (like Romeo and Juliet, or in this case Claudio and Hero) will rush into marriage in a passion without even considering whether or not they are a good match and how the other person’s faults could affect them. Hero was swept up into marriage in a short moment without considering how cynical and unfaithful Claudio might be. Claudio, after seeing a girl once, fell immediately in love with her and insisted that he would marry her, not even thinking once about how feather-headed and unprepared for marriage they both were. On the other hand, Beatrice and Benedick, after years of pretending to hate each other to test the other one’s character, they are prepared to take on each other’s faults and already know how difficult their married lives will be.
And that’s just one of the good messages in this book! There’s quite a bit of character development for Beatrice, Benedick, and Hero, and they all learn a little bit about faithfulness to each other. All of that together with Shakespeare’s classic style makes this a must-read.
What is Bad
Shakespeare always has a bit of mild swearing in his plays, and there are a few remarks that are probably not “drawing room conversation.” Hero is accused of committing adultery while she is engaged to Claudio, and a few comments are made that could worry parents of younger children.
The title makes it sound pointless (Much Ado About Nothing :)), but even if you don’t learn anything from the story, I think you’ll really enjoy this play as I did.
“For it falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
While it was ours.”
Interested in reading it yourself? Click here to purchase Much Ado About Nothing from Amazon.