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Much Ado About Nothing - Setting
Where does the masked ball take place?

Much Ado About Nothing - Setting

This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at setting in Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. A fictional work’s setting includes the location and the time in which events take place. In a play, events which occur offstage will have an effect on characters, even though the audience only hears of these second-hand. Such offstage events constitute a key component of a play’s setting, and are known as context (although you should bear in mind the difference between the fictional context of a play’s setting and the author’s real-life context). Atmosphere is another key element of setting and in a play, it is usually a product of staging. Some playwrights explicitly describe the atmosphere they wish to be created onstage. In Much Ado About Nothing the atmosphere is created primarily through dialogue, the interaction between characters and the use of deceit and spying to gain information. Violence simmers beneath the light and sparkling dialogue.

Pay close attention to the setting of the text you are studying. This is an important step in your analysis. In what way does the world the characters inhabit affect the decisions made over the course of the plot? Much Ado About Nothing presents a gracious, restful environment, an idyllic setting in which Don Pedro, Claudio and Benedick may take a break from the business of war. Their arrival brings its own strains and stresses to this environment.

Geographical setting includes the country, region or city; the environment, whether this is urban or rural; any buildings or other places where events occur; and also the weather, season or time of day. Do events occur in the same place or in different locations? Is the play set in a specific time, or are such details left vague? Do any characters travel, or arrive from elsewhere? Are different settings contrasted with one another?

It can be useful sometimes to consider why texts are set in places other than where they were written. Many of Shakespeare’s plays, for example, are set in Catholic countries elsewhere in Europe, rather than in Protestant England. Can you think of any reasons why an author might choose to set a text in the same time, but in an exotic place? Does this change our understanding of the play?

Answer the questions below on setting in Much Ado About Nothing.

Which of the following serves as a stage for the characters?
The church
The room in which the ball takes place
Beatrice's chamber
Hero's window
Borachio and Margaret enact their performance in the window, while an audience watches. The orchard also serves as a stage, where the conspirators perform for their unsuspecting audiences. The audience of the play never sees the scenes which take place in Hero's window, but only hears them reported by others
On which island is Much Ado About Nothing set?
The play takes place in Messina, a city in Sicily
Which of the following scenes takes place at night?
Don Pedro arrives in Messina
The watchman apprehends Conrad and Borachio
Hero, Ursula and Beatrice prepare for Hero's wedding
Benedick overhears that Beatrice is in love with him
Dogberry sends the watchman out with a lantern as well as strict instructions regarding his duties. The secret conspiracies of Don John cannot bypass the watchful eyes of Messina, even when these belong to fools
Benedick asks to be sent to the furthest ends of the earth rather than spend time speaking with Beatrice. Which one of the following is a place he mentions?
The Antipodes
South Africa
Through reference to many legendary or semi-legendary people, he volunteers to go to Asia, to Mongolia, and to Ethiopia as well. The "Antipodes" literally means whatever place on Earth would be directly opposite to Benedick's location
The play contains several scenes in which someone is spying on another. Where is Beatrice when she overhears Ursula and Hero discussing Benedick's love for her?
At church
In an arbour
In her chamber
In Hero's chamber
Beatrice hides in an arbour covered in honeysuckle; the beautiful leisure garden is a stereotypical setting in which to discuss matters of love
When is the play set?
The twelfth century
The fifteenth century
The seventeenth century
At any point between late-medieval and Shakespeare's own time
Being part of the Kingdom of Aragon places the play at least in the late-medieval period, but the details are vague. Messina seems rather set apart from the rest of the world
Where does Hero "die"?
In her chamber
Just outside Messina
In Padua
In church
Hero "dies" when publicly shamed by Claudio and is "reborn" when brought to Claudio as her uncle Antonio's niece. The "rebirth" is followed by a return to the church
Where does the masked ball take place?
In a nearby palace
In a clearing of the woods
In Leonato's house
In Don Pedro's home
Don John's companion, Borachio, is employed to perfume the room in Leonato's house where the masked ball will take place. This is where he overhears Don Pedro's plan
From where do Don Pedro, Claudio and Benedick arrive?
From Florence
From Spain
From England
From victorious battle
Sicily was under the Crown of Aragon, Aragon being the part of Spain where Don Pedro is from. He and the other men have been fighting in a war, whose location is vague
Where is Benedick when he overhears Claudio and Don Pedro discussing Beatrice's love for him?
In Leonato's orchard
In Leonato's courtyard
In the forest
At church
Benedick hides himself in an arbour, not realising that Claudio and Don Pedro are fully aware of his presence
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Much Ado About Nothing

Author:  Sheri Smith

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