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The play is: Much ado about nothing.
Instructions: From the options given below, choose ONE prompt and write a multi-paragraph essay of 600+ words that responds to it. For how to cite the play in your text, follow the instructions on page 22, #12 of the class packet.
Make sure you are quoting from Shakespeare’s original text rather than from the contemporary English version.
Before submitting the Final Exam
Underline its thesis.
Edit, proofread, and spellcheck the draft.
Do a word count and indicate the number of words in parenthesis at the end of the paper.
Save the draft as LastnameFirstnameFinal. (Example: PerezCatalinaFinal)
Note: Even though essay titles do not go in quotation marks, please put my titles in quotation marks, as they are quotes from the play.
Option 1 (Hardest)–Beatrice: Lonely or Loner?
Actor Susan Fleetwood had this to say about Beatrice when she played the character in the 1990 Royal Shakespeare Company production:
Beatrice is life-giving, energetic, witty, intelligent, fun loving, but lonely. In playing her, I was conscious of her as the orphaned cousin, being on the outside of things in many ways. Yet her position in the household also allows her freedom to be outrageous in a way that Hero cannot be. Beatrice has an absolute hatred of the hypocrisy of the age, of all the sham nonsense and social hierarchy which aims to control. She has no patience with all the military hyperbole and bravado and is also detached from all the courtly ceremony and ritual.
Write an essay titled “Her spirits are as coy and wild,/As haggards of the rock” in which you argue EITHER that Beatrice is lonely OR that she is a loner (in the sense of individualistic) based on evidence from Shakespeare’s play. In your conclusion, explain how Benedick’s decision to side with Beatrice when she calls for Claudio’s death changes her future as a loner OR as a lonely woman.
Option 2 –Don John Has the Last Word
“I am not of many words,” admits the villainous Don John in Act 1. But what if you explained Much Ado about Nothing from his point of view? How would the sullen, dishonest, jealous Don John interpret the motivations and personalities of the main characters and the happenings of the play? Title your narrative essay “If I had my mouth, I would bite” and make sure your retelling is based on evidence from Shakespeare’s play.
Option 3 (Easiest)–Benedick’s Dilemma
When Hero faints after being falsely accused of being disloyal, Don Pedro, Claudio, and Don John exit the stage. This is a crucial moment of decision for Benedick–should he leave with his friends or stay? In an essay titled “Gallants, I am not as I have been,” discuss a) the reasons why Benedick must be tempted to leave, b) why he stays and c) what his decision tells you about his character. In your conclusion, explain whether Benedick’s decision to stay seems like a good idea by the end of the scene, since he has gained Beatrice’s love, but also vowed to kill his best friend (do NOT discuss the end of the play in your essay!).