Much Ado About Nothing: Thoughts Specific and General



Below are the key scenes we’ll be focussing on when we start to look at Much Ado About Nothing next term:


Note that these are the only scenes we’ll be reading (performing) in class.
You’ll find the first few lessons a lot more fun if you’re already familiar with the play and its characters, so do have a little look at it in advance. The Kenneth Branagh film is a triumph.

Additionally, below are the topics we’ll be focussing on once we’ve made our way through the set scenes:

1. Structure and Rom-com: Much Ado About Nothing and Anchorman
I.i, II.i, II.iii, III.i, IV.i, V.ii
In what way does the structure of Much Ado About Nothing contribute to its effectiveness as a comedy?

2. Dis/order in Much Ado About Nothing
II.i, II.iii (B&B) IV.i, IV. ii, V.i, V.iv
Explore the relationship beween order and chaos in Much Ado About Nothing.

3. Tragicomic? Links with Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet and Othello.
I.iii, II.ii, II.iii, III.ii, IV.i, V.iv
Write about some of the connections between Much Ado About Nothing and Shakespeare’s other plays.

4. Language: Puns, Double-entendre and malapropism
I.i, III.v, IV.ii, V.ii
Explore Shakespeare’s use of language to create humour in Much Ado About Nothing.

5. Seriously funny: The darker side of Much Ado About Nothing
I.iii, IV.i, V.i, V.iv
Explore the effect of the above scenes on the play as a whole.

6. ‘Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.’ The Folly of Love in Much Ado About Nothing.
II.i (Benedick) II.iii (Benedick) III.i (Beatrice) III.ii (Benedick) V.ii, V.iv
Much Ado About Nothing suggests that ‘love makes fools of us all’. To what extent do you agree?

7. ‘Strike up, pipers!’ Revelry in Much Ado About Nothing.
II.i, II.iii, V.ii, V.iii, V.iv
Explore the ways in which music, dance and revelry contribute to the action of Much Ado About Nothing.

8. Practically hilarious: Slapstick and practical jokes in Much Ado About Nothing.
II.i, II.iii, III.i, V.iv
In what ways do practical jokes contribute to the action and humour of Much Ado About Nothing?

Brace yourselves.


I LOVE THIS: aMAZEme at the Royal Festival Hall


I just spent an hour in this by mistake. It is a maze made out of 250,000 BOOKS! I LOVE it! Go and see what I mean. It’s on at the Royal Festival Hall until 26th August – that’s this Sunday! For more details, click here. I LOVE it!

Attention new LVIth!

Now then, if you have had the wisdom and foresight to opt for AS English Literature in September, there are a few things you might like to know.

The first is that we will be studying some PLAYS, until Christmas (ish), and in particular, funny ones, A.K.A. comedies.

With this in mind, I thought you might like to take advantage of this culturally-rich melting-pot of a city we call ‘home’ and go and see one. This will give you something interesting to think about, and perhaps even say, in class. And also it’s just an excellent idea.

Thus. My recommendations for comedies showing in London between now and December:

The Globe Theatre, Bankside is showing The Taming of the Shrew until 13th October. I will certainly be going to see this, and I suggest you do the same. It’s a great introduction to some of the conventions of Shakespearean comedy.

The Comedy of Errors is also on, although unfortunately not in London. However, if you decided to spend the day in Stratford-upon-Avon, you could go and find out lots of things about Shakespeare before the play starts. Or you could just go shopping.

Sticking to Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre: Mr Hegarty went to see this and said it was brilliant. It’s only on until 5th September, so go now. Take a sleeping bag.

If you manage to get hold of tickets for Twelfth Night, which is most unlikely, you simply must go. It’s sold out of course, because it’s going to be BRILLIANT. If for some reason you can’t go, then please give them to me. Please.

Richmond Theatre is showing a few comedies, namely Hysteria, by Terry Johnson (until 25th August), Haunting Julia by Alan Ayckbourn (until 29th Sept), and Relatively Speaking, also Ayckbourn (until 6th October).

The ‘other’ theatre in Richmond, The Orange Tree is showing Ibsen’s Love’s Comedy until 15th December, and a little further along the Thames, The Rose Theatre, Kingston have got Pinero’s The Second Mrs Tanqueray on until 27th October.

Finally, you might enjoy Stanley Houghton’s play Hindle Wakes which is on at the Finborough Theatre until 29th September.

Keep checking here for your Wider Reading list, which I’ll post at some point this week.

That is all.