Plot Analysis

PLOT ANALYSIS by Kayla Shelton

Don John, Don Pedro, and Claudio are returning soldiers from war. They go to Leonato’s house in Messina, Italy. There, Claudio meets and falls in love with Leonato’s daughter, Hero. However, Don John has decided to disrupt everyone’s happiness. Don John, Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother,  is sullen and bitter, and makes trouble for the others. He wants to make avenge for his own dishonorable social status by ruining another’s. 

He has his companion Borachio make love to Margaret, Hero’s serving woman, at Hero’s window. He then brings Don Pedro and Claudio to watch Hero’s window in the darkness of the night. Believing that he has seen Hero being unfaithful to him, Claudio is enraged and humiliates Hero by accusing her of betraying him by being disloyal the night before their wedding day. On the day of their planned wedding, Claudio publicly shames and  abandons Hero at the altar.  This climactic scene results in Hero fainting and appearing lifeless. Leonato and Friar Francis pretend that she died suddenly of shock and grief in order to hide her away while they wait for the truth about her innocence.  Claudio believes she is dead and grieves for Hero. Dutifully, two watchmen overhear Borachio bragging about his deceit. The head of police, Dogberry, arrests Borachio and the truth about Hero comes to light. 

Leonato  wants Claudio to tell everybody how innocent Hero was and to marry his“niece.” Masked, the niece appears, but quickly reveals herself to be the real Hero. Claudio becomes overwhelmed with joy. With everything cleared up, Hero reveals she is still living and still as innocent as on her original wedding day. In the end, we know there’s no real harm done in the relationship between Hero and Claudio.  Claudio is excused for having made an error in judgment. Everyone is happy that Hero can get married again and the joyful lovers dance merrily to celebrate. 


The entire play centers on a lot of misunderstandings.There is a whole lot of fuss about stuff that ultimately isn’t important. There is literally much ado about nothing.

In Shakespeare’s day, “nothing” was often pronounced the same way as “noting.” The play addresses this in many ways. “Noting” has countless meanings. It can mean “to take notice of” something, to eavesdrop, to observe, or to write something down. It is important to note, though, that the notings in the play aren’t always accurate. People tend to easily misunderstand. Thus, Shakespeare creates multiple subplots to show how the kinks that result from nothing/noting, keep the characters spinning.

Furthermore, “nothing” was also an Elizabethan slang term for the vagina. Therefore, the play could also be interpreted as, “Much Ado About Vagina.” They play revolves around women and this title shows what a central role they play; whether it is their relationships with men, the suspicion of their chastity, or even their lack of relationships with men. “Nothing,” could even be interpreted as “no thing,” meaning much ado about women that do not have a thing…. 

Hero’s Death

It is also important to note that Claudio’s powerful words accusing Hero of unchaste and disloyal acts cause her to fall down in apparent lifelessness. Leonato accentuates the direness of Hero’s state,. Friar Francis convinces Leonato of his daughter’s innocence,  but they maintain that she really has died, in order to punish Claudio and give Hero a respectable amount of time to regain her honor. Claudio performs all the actions of mourning Hero. Hero must symbolically die and be reborn pure again in order for Claudio to marry her a second time. Therefore, Hero’s false death is a social ritual designed to cleanse her name.


SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Much Ado About Nothing.” SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.

Shmoop Editorial Team. “Much Ado About Nothing Plot Analysis.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.