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Facts in Much Ado About Nothing

Facts Examples in Much Ado About Nothing:

Act I - Scene I

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"four of his five wits ..."   (Act I - Scene I)

The five senses—sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell—were referred to in Shakespeare's time as the "outward wits."  This could also be a reference to the imagination, common wit, fantasy, estimation, and memory, known as the "inward wits."

"three leagues..."   (Act I - Scene I)

A league equals about three miles, so Don Pedro is about nine miles away.

"windy side..."   (Act II - Scene I)

To be on the "windy side of care" means to be out of care's way, or out of danger. This is a nautical allusion: the windy side is the windward side, which gives a ship enough wind to maneuver out of danger.

"I know her spirits are as coy and wild(35) As haggards of the rock...."   (Act III - Scene I)

Hero refers to hawks (haggards) that, like Beatrice, are almost impossible to domesticate.

"Where is but a humour or a worm.(25)..."   (Act III - Scene II)

During Shakespeare’s time, illnesses were thought to be caused by fluids or parasites. According to Humorism, a system of medicine considered to have been developed by the ancient Greeks, there were four different “humour[s]” (bodily fluids) that determined a person’s temperament and physical health: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. It was believed that an imbalance of these humours would result in illness. Being in love (especially unrequited love) was thought to produce an overabundance of black bile, which was associated with melancholy.

" She shall be buried with her face upwards...."   (Act III - Scene II)

People who are buried with the face upwards have died an acceptable Christian death, as distinguished from suicides, who are buried with the faces downwards.

"‘Light o’ love.'..."   (Act III - Scene IV)

“Light o’ love” is the name of an old dance tune. During Shakespeare’s time, “Light o’ love” was also used as an expression for the inconstant nature of love, or specifically as a noun to describe a woman who was fickle with love.

" Goodman Verges..."   (Act III - Scene V)

The title Goodman (also, yeoman) is for a man just below the level of gentlemen. Think of a property and business owner or artisan (like Shakespeare's father, a glove maker) in the middle class.

"Friar..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

A friar is a member of any certain religious orders, especially the four mendicant orders: the Augustinians, Dominicans, Franciscans, and Carmelites.

"it is proved already..."   (Act IV - Scene II)

As usual, Dogberry has things backward—usually, charges are brought on the basis of suspicion ("to be thought so shortly") and then the charges are proved.

"my Lord Lackbeard ..."   (Act V - Scene I)

As with his earlier use of boy to refer to Claudio, Benedick refers to Claudio's inability to grow a beard, implying that he is not manly enough.  In Shakespeare's time, most men wore beards, and boys looked forward to the time they could grow their first beard.

"Let me hear from you...."   (Act V - Scene I)

Duels are conducted very formally—when the challenge is issued, it must be formally accepted by the challenged party. 

"we have bucklers of our own...."   (Act V - Scene II)

A buckler was a small fencing shield that consisted of a round piece of wood with a small raised circle of iron. It was meant to catch the tip of one’s opponent’s sword. Beatrice uses this reference to make a bawdy joke that refers to female genitalia.

"I give thee the bucklers...."   (Act V - Scene II)

This is a saying that comes from fencing, meaning “I give up” or “I yield.” Bucklers were small round shields used for protection against a fencing sword.

"Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?..."   (Act V - Scene II)

The Elizabethan sonnet tradition evolved out of Petrarch's Italian sonnet. These were 14-line poems written in iambic pentameter in which a speaker would talk about her desire for an unattainable love object. Sonnet sequences, a collection of 150 sonnets that slowly told an unrequited love story, became popular in the 1580s with Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella. However, because of this popularity, many imitation writers were drawn to the form. This changed the popular opinion of sonnets as a high form of literature to something more common and formulaic, much like some modern day pop songs.

"carpet-mongers..."   (Act V - Scene II)

This is a sarcastic reference to knights who, instead of fighting, spent their time with the ladies, presumably kneeling on carpets while they sang their ladies' praises.  The phrase is synonymous with "ladies man."

"And yours as blunt as the fencer's foils..."   (Act V - Scene II)

When fencers practice, they use a foil with a blunt tip so as not to injure their opponents, so Margaret is telling Benedick that his wit is dull.

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