Shakespeare Acts IV and V Discussion

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Shakespeare Acts IV and V Discussion

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12/8/2019 1:36:26 PM

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12/08/2019 23:59



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1     Double-spaced (225 words)

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online discussion question

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PROMPT: Much Ado About Nothing Acts 4 and 5 Choose one of the following prompts and write at least two paragraphs (200 words minimum) in response. Now that you have watched Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 film version of Much Ado About Nothing, you should have noticed some important differences between the film and the play. For example, Branagh has changed the setting of the play from the urban environs of Messina and moved the action out to the countryside. This is actually a very significant difference. Remember that Leonato is the Governor of Messina. Therefore what is happening with the marriage of his daughter also affects his political life, and his livelihood. That, of course, impacts everyone in his household from the servants on up. In what ways might moving the setting of the play away from the physical seat of political intrigue and power have on the tone of the performance? Branagh’s interpretation of the play depicts Hero and Claudio as very much in love. Do we know this from the text of the play itself? Note particularly how many lines Hero actually has in the first few acts and the concern Claudio himself expresses to the Prince about not wanting to seem too forward in his attentions to Hero (Act I). Of great interest is the fact that Branagh removes Act 3, scene 4 entirely from his movie. Reread that scene and think about why Branagh might want to do that. How does having that scene in the play change the way we view the wedding at the beginning of Act 4, and possibly the resolution of the play in Act 5. Some students find the request Beatrice makes of Benedick at the end of Act 4, scene 1 manipulative and unfair. Why does Shakespeare choose to have Benedick and Beatrice profess their love for one another now, of all times? Why does Beatrice ask Benedick to prove his love by killing Claudio?Think about this beyond the motive of revenge, and consider instead the culture of honor in which they are all living. Honor was the currency of the time in many practical ways. If a man lost his honor, he could not proceed in politics or business, if a woman lost her honor (her virginity) she could be killed by her father or male relative or, if she as lucky, sent to a nunnery for the rest of her life. What Claudio has done is very serious, as it could result in Hero’s death at her father’s hands. He and Don Pedro, a “pair of honorable men,” have chosen the most public and humiliating way in which to denounce Hero, and thus, Leonato, who has always been a gracious and generous host to them. Why do they not speak to Leonato in private rather than make such a spectacle? Are they as honorable as we thought? Is Beatrice’s request perhaps more reasonable than a modern audience might initially believe?

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