See how well you understand the text in Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare by playing this enjoyable GCSE English Literature quiz. Much Ado About Nothing was written over four hundred years ago. The form of English in which it is written is known as “Early Modern”, which makes it sound as though it ought to be easy. You will have noticed, of course, that this is not the case. Sometimes the spelling is rather different, sometimes the words are unfamiliar, and very often the jokes are not easily understood unless they are first explained. It is worth persevering, however. Much Ado About Nothing is full of delightfully clever play with words, especially between Beatrice and Benedick. Reading slowly, reading sections more than once and reading aloud will certainly help with comprehension.
This play really is about not very much at all. Two couples get married: one pair have to be tricked into it, another have to make two attempts before the wedding actually takes place. Otherwise, there is a fair amount of gossip, some dancing and an attempt by “evil” Don John to disrupt society. The play becomes somewhat stifling, however, as every character is watched and commented upon by the other characters.
As you would with any other text, pay close attention to the methods and techniques which have been used to convey meaning. Devote some time to analysing character, setting, plot, theme and dialogue. Your comprehension of the text works on several levels simultaneously. Consider the sequence of events, especially paying attention to scenes that you observe and scenes which are merely reported by characters. Do you almost feel as if you have witnessed the incident at Hero’s window, even though the audience only hears a second-hand account?
It is always useful to create a timeline of events, which will help you to picture the structure of the play. Events occur chronologically in this play and take place over very few days. The action is rather condensed. Creating act and scene summaries will help you remember and better understand the text.
Analysing beginnings and endings will be a great benefit to your understanding of the play. Consider possible reasons for the play beginning as it does. What do we learn in the first scene? What do you learn about previous events? Do we know anything about the characters and, if we do, how do we learn it? Are future events foreshadowed? How is this accomplished? Analyse individual acts and scenes in the same way. Undertaking detailed analysis of this sort will really increase your knowledge and understanding of the text!
Read the questions below on Much Ado About Nothing and test your knowledge and understanding of the text.