Use of structure in Much Ado About Nothing

The play is set out in five acts. This is a typical structure that follows a pattern of building to a climax or important turning point – in this case, the rejection of Hero at the altar. The final act sees the truth come out, everyone reconciled and ends with happy marriages, music and dancing.

When writing about structure, think about:

  • How is the text put together?
  • What is significant about this?
  • How does it reflect the themes of the text?
  • What is the overall effect of the structure?

Evidence of the structure used

Build-up of tension

The tension begins in this play with the light-hearted fighting between Beatrice and Benedick. There is a hint of unpleasant deeds to follow when we meet the bad-tempered Don John in Act 1 and we watch his plot to undo Claudio unfurl. Alongside his evil trickery, there is the parallel, but well-intentioned, misleading of Beatrice and Benedick by their friends. As one couple are pulled apart, the other is drawn together. Each pair is the victim of nothing more than words and false appearances, which relates to the title of the play.

How to analyse structure

How important is the overall structure of this play?

  • The structure builds tension and keeps the audience engaged – we want to find out how everything will turn out.
  • It has parallel plots that mirror each other.
  • How does it reflect the themes of the text?
  • Everything is reconciled in the end, leaving the audience satisfied that all is again well in the world.