The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1690 Wednesday, 6 October 1999.
Date: Tuesday, 05 Oct 1999 12:19:49 -0400
Subject: Much Ado and "Good Men"
I am currently directing a high school production of Much Ado About
Nothing, and in working on the play, I came across a fascinating
instance of juxtaposition that I had never noticed before.
At the close of 3.2, we have Don Pedro and Claudio falling into Don
John's deception and plotting to shame Hero at the wedding. Of course,
Don Pedro and Claudio are two "honorable" men who are being tricked into
dishonor and inconstancy.
Immediately after the conclusion of 3.2, Dogberry makes his first
entrance of the play. His first line to the Watch is comical but
prophetic: "Are you good men and true?" Brilliant. Dogberry could
reasonably be asking this of Don Pedro and Claudio, as they are no
longer "good men and true." A fascinating use of juxtposition that we as
audiences/readers may easily overlook because of our vision of Dogberry
as a solely comic character, not one who has anything to contribute to
the theme of the play.
What do we make of this? Is Shakespeare making some type of argument
regarding the nature of "good" men?