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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Hello, again. This week, you’re going to learn about one of Shakespeare’s most popular romantic comedies, Much Ado About Nothing. It’s a love story or, rather, a double love story, because it involves two couples who fall in love. But they spend a lot of time arguing with each other about things that don’t really matter. And they also spend a lot of time worrying about things that haven’t actually happened. The title, Much Ado About Nothing, basically means well, a lot of trouble about things that really aren’t that important. So, for example, if people are arguing a lot but they’re arguing about things that matter, you could say these arguments are “much ado about nothing.” The word, “ado,” is old fashioned.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds Although it was common in Shakespeare’s time, it isn’t generally used much now, except in the expression “much ado about nothing.” This shows how Shakespeare has had an enormous influence on the English language. A little word, ado, would probably have disappeared from the language completely. But we still know it, and we still say it today thanks to Shakespeare. As I said, the play is a double love story involving two couples. One couple is a woman called Beatrice and a man called Benedick. They provide much of the comedy in the play by being really horrible to each other. The other couple is a woman called Hero and her boyfriend, Claudio.

Skip to 1 minute and 49 seconds We’ll hear from actor Susan Hingley, who has played Hero in the play. In the next step, Susan will tell you the story of the play, and I’m sure you’ll begin to understand why it’s called “much ado about nothing.” As you listen, make notes about what happens to the main characters– Hero, Claudio, Beatrice, and Benedick.

Introduction to Week 4

Listen to Anthony introduce Week 4 where we’ll look at Much Ado About Nothing

  • What do you know about Much Ado About Nothing?
  • Have you ever seen it performed or studied it?

Share your ideas about the play with other learners.

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Shakespeare

British Council