Love in Much Ado About Nothing

Symbol of a heart.

Love is a main idea in this play and is shown through the partnerships between Claudio and Hero, Benedick and Beatrice and also through the paternal love that Leonato shows for his daughter and niece.

Claudio's love for Hero is often regarded as superficial. He seems to fall in love with her because she fits the model of an ideal woman: modest, beautiful and obedient. Beatrice and Benedick, on the other hand, are each in denial of their love and need to be tricked by their friends into realising their true feelings. Ultimately their love seems more real and true.

In the end, both pairs are married and love is triumphant.

How is the theme of love shown in the play?

In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare shows the theme of love through:

  • Claudio falling in love with Hero
  • Benedick realising his love for Beatrice
  • Leonato's love for his daughter and niece

How does Shakespeare show this?EvidenceAnalysis
Claudio falls in love with HeroClaudio declares his love for Hero to Benedick."In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on." (Act 1 Scene 1) He is in love at first sight, showing that he is romantic and, it might be argued, superficial.
Benedick realises his love for BeatriceAfter eavesdropping on his friends in the orchard, Benedick decides he loves Beatrice."I do spy some marks of love in her." (Act 2 Scene 3) Although we see Benedick's softening towards Beatrice, his change of heart can be seen as arrogant. He hadn't noted any love in Beatrice until now.
Leonato loves his daughter and nieceLeonato wants his daughter and his niece to find suitable husbands."Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband." (Act 2 Scene 1) Although we find this attitude patronising in today's society, Leonato shows his love by wishing that his charges will be well-married.

Analysing the evidence

Question

How is love presented in Much Ado About Nothing?

  • Love is sometimes presented as superficial – Claudio falls in love with an ideal of a woman rather than the reality.
  • The love between Benedick and Beatrice seems to be hidden to themselves. Their friends have to trick them into realising their feelings.
  • Love is seen as protective as well as romantic through Leonato’s wish for his daughter and niece.

Explore the theme of love in this video