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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Questions on Much Ado About Nothing
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1235  Friday, 3 May 2002

From:           Paul Swanson <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 02 May 2002 11:43:20 -0500
Subject: Re: Questions on Much Ado About Nothing
Comment:        SHK 13.1203 Re: Questions on Much Ado About Nothing

Jeff Myers writes about Conrade in Much Ado:

>Is this essentialist viewpoint endorsed somewhere in the play?  Might
>not a gentleman be "entertained as a perfumer"?  Is it not possible in
>this play for a gentleman to act unlike a gentleman, whether the
>performance is so intended or not?

Absolutely. Building on the obvious example of Claudio and Don Pedro,
let us recall the very first words that Dogberry utters in the play.
"Are you good mean and true" (3.3.1) he asks of the watch. What's
significant is that this line/scene IMMEDIATELY follows Don John's
hatched plot to destroy Hero and Claudio's marriage, which culminates
with Claudio saying that "If I see any thing tonight why I should not
marry her, tomorrow in the congregation, where I should wed, there will
I shame her" (3.2.123-125).

Shakespeare juxtaposes the inconstant Claudio and Don Pedro, who are not
"good men and true," with the ludicrous but faithful men of the Watch to
illuminate exactly what Jeff points out. Not only can a gentleman be
"ungentlemanly," but an inept and low-class idiot can act with
inadvertent nobility.

Paul Swanson

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