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Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing

4. Mock Death and Real Slander

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the mock death of Hero, contrasting it with mock deaths elsewhere in Shakespeare (Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Thaisa and Marina in Pericles, Ferdinand in The Tempest), and thinking about its impact in this play. In addition to this, we begin to think about some of the darker elements in the play, most notably when Beatrice demands that Benedick “Kill Claudio”—a moment of ‘tragic relief’, perhaps?


In this course, Professor John Lennard explores Shakespeare’s most urban comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. As we move through the course, we think about a number of issues, including: the setting of the play and its impact on the action; the potential meanings of “nothing” in the title; the characters of Beatrice and Benedick, their relationship with one another and what they reveal about the other older characters in the play; the mock death; and the characters of Don John and Dogberry.


Born in Bristol, and educated at Oxford and St Louis, Dr John Lennard has taught English, American, and Commonwealth Literature in Cambridge, London, and Jamaica over more than twenty years. He has written two widely used textbooks (on poetry and drama) and monographs on Shakespeare, Paul Scott, Nabokov, and Faulkner, as well as two collections of essays on contemporary genre writers in crime, science fiction and fantasy, and romance. Enthusiastic, discursive, widely knowledgeable, and a demon for punctuation (on which he has also published extensively), he has been a popular Summer School Course Leader and lecturer for the Institute of Continuing Education since 1992.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Lennard, J. (2018, August 15). Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing - Mock Death and Real Slander [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lennard, J. "Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing – Mock Death and Real Slander." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,