‘Much Ado About Nothing’ by William Shakespeare contains many aspects that anchor the Elizabethan conventions of comedy, but allows us to question whether the ending gratifies the audience and does it actually create a satisfactory dramatic catharsis? Aristotle first discussed the concept of catharsis. He believed that “the poet's aim is to produce pleasure in the spectator by eliciting from the representation the emotions of pity (for others) and fear (for oneself)”. I believe ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ creates a satisfactory dramatic catharsis by Shakespeare intertwining Elizabethan comedic conventions with other forms of comedy in order for characters to receive their cathartic, happy ending. We are able to say ‘Much Ado About Nothing’
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An example of this is “Be you constant in the accusations, and my cunning shall not shame me”. However, the fact there are multiple villains doesn’t conform to the comedic conventions, as a play would usually have only one main villain who causes continuous disruption. Shakespeare uses multiple villains to portray the convention of intertwining plots, which creates an enigma for the audience as they begin to question the various possible outcomes. Benedick says to Don Pedro and Claudio, “your brother the bastard is fled from Messina” which may connote that Don John was in fact the main villain, but also most intelligent as he appears to be the only villain that wasn’t prepared to get caught. The way Don John “fled” may resemble his character as Shakespeare made him a mysterious character that is “not of many words”, which further leaves the audience of an enigma, as they don’t know what his next plan could be.
However, in contrast, the audience are gratified with the cathartic ending as Borachio states, “The lady is dead upon mine and my master’s false accusation” allowing the two partners of Don John to take responsibility for the disruptions throughout the play. This leaves a potential sense of justice in relation to Conrade and Borachio as they are accepting what they did, which satisfies the audience as the villains received their punishment. This is further reinforced when Don John is “brought with armed men