The play Much Ado About Nothing uses the concept of making order from disorder in a variety of ways, through the writings of its infamous author, William Shakespeare. The comedy is founded on a societal view of marriage, courting, hierarchy and ‘noting’. In the play, there are several main sources of disorder, the outstanding one being Claudio and Don Pedro being deceived into thinking Hero is unfaithful. Alongside this, there is the disorder of Dogberry’s enquiry, and also of Beatrice and Benedick being tricked into believing they are in love with one another.
These three underlying disorders will be explained in this essay. This concept of contriving order from disorder is crucial to the core of this comedic play. Don John, the illegitimate brother of Don Pedro – therefore a resentful and villainous man- accompanied by his followers Borachio and Conrade, deceives Claudio and Don Pedro into believing that Hero is unfaithful. This is the central crisis of the play as a whole, bringing in Shakespeare’s all-important irony that the nobility must depend on the commoners to restore order.
This allows Dogberry, Verges, and the watchmen to bring about justice and clear Hero’s name, thus restoring the orderly world of Messina. In this central deception, Hero loses not only her prospect husband but also her father, and ironically must ‘die to live’ as Friar Francis states, to regain her honour as a marriageable young woman. This deception also rotates around Margaret’s humiliating disorder of being found as the woman pretending to be Hero, unbeknownst to her.
Order is contrived by Leonato’s harsh yet forgiving revenge, but firstly through the examination undertaken by Dogberry and his fellows. Dogberry’s examination is a true example of disorderliness. Shakespeare uses absurd malapropisms to expose Dogberry’s common education and status, and thus his inner disorder. However it is the strangely observant though somewhat unintelligent and pompous Dogberry that truly sees the fictitiousness of the deception and therefore it is Dogberry who is the only one able, with the help of the watchmen, to bring about order in the governing house of the nobility.
Shakespeare uses this irony to show the ignorance of the nobles and also their ability to jump to rash conclusions, like Claudio and Don Pedro who refused to listen to the words Hero had to say in her defence. Order is thus brought about in the examination through Dogberry’s uncanny ability to see the truth in the matter, and restore order not only in his own interview, but also in the initial deception. The third deception is of Beatrice and Benedick. The two, by words spoken by their friends and relations, are tricked into wondering if they are in love with the other.
This naturally causes a degree of affection between the two, and through this a certain degree of disorder. This disorder is the most easily solved, because though the two discover that they were tricked, they also discover that they indeed do love one another, and it is not the same courtly love shown by Hero and Claudio, but a deep and intimate relationship. Order is located through this discovery. This is the most satisfactory discernment of order from disorder in the play as a whole.
In conclusion, of the three deceptions in the comedy, order is found underneath disorder through the abilities of the commoners, and of ideal, common sense. This shows that the idea of making order from disorder is central to the themes and lessons of Much Ado About Nothing as a whole, using Shakespeare’s ironic sense of humour as a guide. The centrality of this idea is shown throughout the play, making it important to the extent of crucial. Indeed, if this idea were not so centred in the text, the play would not be so clever and therefore not so appealing as a whole.