23 April 2022
Particular Place: Messina, Italy, In Much Ado About Nothing
Particular Place: Messina, Italy, in Much Ado About Nothing
Messina is the primary setting of the play Much Ado About Nothing by William
Shakespeare. The characters’ perceptions of the place differ depending on their social class,
occupations, and gender roles. The varying attitudes and understanding of the place also
define the play’s interactions, beliefs, and actions. For example, pettiness, jealousy, and
deception form a critical part of the leading characters’ interactions within Messina. These
attitudes and behavior are evident in Claudio and Leonato as their social classes, which is one
of the key elements defining Messina, differentiate their attitudes, and interaction in the
setting. Similarly, Beatrice’s gender and the challenges and opportunities for the unmarried
women in Messina shape her attitude towards the place. Conversely, the soldier’s occupation
defines their behavior and understanding of the aspects that make life enjoyable, further
binding them to the vulnerable situations of the unmarried women in Messina. Therefore,
Messina means a place of rest and enjoyment, boasting, honor, and celebration to the
soldiers, which are among the most critical aspects of the play.
Firstly, Messina means a place of rest and enjoyment to the soldiers returning from
war. Typically, trauma and stress characterize soldiers’ lives in battle, making the desire a
place to rest and forget their experiences, hence their love for Messina. According to
Shakespeare and Claire, Messina was a place of love and romance, something that the
soldiers yearned for in the aftermath of harrowing and non-erotic lives on the battlefield (94).
Unlike the rest of the population, the soldiers had every reason to approach Messina with a
stronger desire for women. The life of Claudio exemplifies the above phenomenon from the
perspective of lust and love. For example, his first feeling towards Hero after returning from
war was lust resulting from long years of absence from women and engaging in sex
(Shakespeare and Claire 101). However, he falls in love with time and begins to take the
relationship seriously. Claudio’s actions prove that Messina was a place for rest, love, and
romance for the soldiers.
The soldiers also view Messina as a place to show off. Ideally, the battleground
presents an actual wartime situation with little time to show off because one kills or be killed,
making it survival for the fittest. However, Messina is peaceful and welcomes and celebrates
the soldiers for exemplary work. Claudio’s return is characterized by pride and showing off to
attract the most refined woman in Messina (Shakespeare and Claire 104). The soldiers know
that women in the town fall for accomplished men and exploits the attitude to their
advantage. As a result, he wins the attention of the Hero. He falls in love, setting off a long
series of romantic events, including jealousy from fellow soldiers and the other female
characters in the play, including Benedick. The latter character dislikes Claudio primarily
because of his relationship with Hero and chooses to confide in Beatrice to rid himself of the
attitude (Shakespeare and Claire 109). Nonetheless, Beatrice uses this opportunity to assert
her authority, teasing and ridiculing people, including Claudio, the wartime hero Messina.
Therefore, to the soldiers, Messina was a place to brag and show off to win the attention of
beautiful, accomplished women.
Furthermore, Messina was a place of honor to the soldiers after winning the wars. One
of the most encouraging and appealing things in the life of a soldier is an honor because it
shows that the community appreciates and acknowledges their efforts. As a result, an honor
which is great respect received from the population and its administrators is one of the most
critical themes in the play much ado about nothing by Shakespeare. Among the soldiers who
were honored upon their return from war are Leonato, Benedick, Claudio, and Don Pedro. It
is noteworthy that the desire for the honor that only takes place at Messina makes them lead
to place despite coming from different locations. The poet posits that Count Claudio was “a
young Florentine,” whereas Signor Benedick was an “of Padua” (Shakespeare 188-189). The
honor was only done at Messina, and all of them had to get to the town first. These actions
prove that the soldiers viewed Messina as a place of honor.
Additionally, usually, people head home first to deliver the good news of victory upon
returning from war. Nevertheless, these soldiers deviated from the norm and headed straight
to Messina. The behavior shows that they view the town as a place for distraction from
family and war challenges. Besides, it offers them an opportunity to bond and relish their war
experiences with one another, something they would not find in their families and
hometowns. Shakespeare affirms that the joy among the soldiers as they entered the town and
the attractions they got from the women in the town was immeasurable, earning them both
friends and foes in Messina (193). These claims show that not everyone was happy with the
return of the soldiers to Messina since they usurped all attraction from the unmarried women
who were the center of action in the town. The love between Claudio and Hero summarizes
the jealousy and conflicting interests among the soldiers themselves and the rest of the
Messina residents. The move justifies the argument that Messina was more important to
soldiers than their hometowns and families.
In conclusion, Much Ado About Nothing, the play was set in Messina. The place
means different things to specific characters. However, to the soldiers, it is a place of rest,
fun, and love after their return from war. Ideally, people coming back from war need to forget
about the harrowing experience in battle. Claudio’s behavior and love affair with Hero
justifies this argument. The soldiers also view Messina as a place to brag and show off as
essential people. The approach earns them friends and enemies among the residents of the
town. Lastly, Messina is a place of honor for the soldiers. The perception is seen in their
choice of the town as the first stop before proceeding to their hometowns and families.
Overall, Messina is a place of love, fun, enjoyment, honor, and show-off to the soldiers.
The Meaning of Messina to Leonato
Leonato’s perception of Messina is among the most classic themes of the play, much
ado about nothing by Shakespeare. The character is the governor of Messina, while Claudio
is the young Lord of Florence and one of the soldiers who returned to the town after a
victorious war. In addition, he is the first character to speak, and the setting of the story takes
place at his home. He is also the second in the hierarchy of Don Pedro. Regardless, society
treats him with reverence and respect. He is also Hero’s father, the character described as
sweet and kind throughout the book (Shakespeare & Humphreys 188). The love affair
between Hero and Claudio and her infidelity reveals the social class setting of the play. The
events that follow the above scenario are characterized by deception, hate, and schemes that
further show how social dimensions control the livelihoods of Messina residents. Overall, to
Leonato, Messina is a place of social class culture, respect, and honor.
The social class setting of the play is one of the ways through which the author
develops this theme. For example, the hierarchy system of governance in Messina sets the
royal family apart from the rest of the population. As a member of the royal family and
govern of the town, Leonato is among the main characters the author uses to develop the
theme of royalty and social class (Shakespeare & Humphreys 189). It is also because the fight
for Hero’s love took a social dimension when Claudio intended to marry her. It is noteworthy
that the two are from different social classes, with Hero being a royal family member while
Claudio represents the low class in society. His naivety and difficulty in defending himself
from ridicule prove his low social status. For example, he shies off and fails to respond to
Benedick’s direct criticism of his intention to marry Hero, a ruling family member
(Shakespeare & Humphreys 189). Besides, Claudio was mainly allowed to be close to Hero
because he belonged to a noble family, a young lord from port Florence and not because of
his war accomplishments. Thus, the theme of social class evident in the characters of
Leonato, Claudio, and Hero prove Leonato’s perception of Messina as a class-based social
Furthermore, although the external appearance of the various classes within the
setting of the play constantly depicts the stereotypes of the author’s time, he contradicts the
probable behaviors of these classes or groups. Shakespeare reveals through the character of
Leonato that despite the importance of power and privilege, the upper-class members cannot
rule successfully. Further, they rarely act honorably but use power to benefit while neglecting
the rest of the population. For example, while Leonato is the governor of the town, he
regularly acts selfishly, making him more susceptible to manipulation, proving his inadequate
leadership capacities. The same applies to Don Pedro, who holds the highest rank in Messina.
The inconsistency in Leonato’s behavior also shows his selfishness and deceptive attitude.
For example, in the beginning, he welcomes the soldiers to his home, making him appear as a
caring, protective leader. Yet, he does not associate with them in public, always preferring to
be in the company of the ruling class (Shakespeare & Humphreys 189). The behavior proves
that to Leonato, Messina is a place where first-class families reign supreme.
Leonato’s choice of her daughter Hero’s marriage partner also shows that he considers
the social class aspect critical to life in Medina. According to Shakespeare & Humphreys, the
character is hell-bent on ensuring that her daughter gets a suiter from the highest level of
society (191). He also tries to influence the marriage of her niece Bernice to achieve the same
goals but wonders whether there is a man from a high social class who can entertain her sharp
tongue. These inconsistent behavior patterns show that Leonato only associates with the low
class in society to assert his leadership and win their support. Yet, deeply he believes in
maintaining the gap between the low and high-class groups in Medina. In addition, Hero’s
infidelity and involvement with people from the low class in society introduce another aspect
of the social dimension in the play. According to Shakespeare & Humphreys, Leonato, the
governor, and Claudio, the young lord from port Florence, became angry with Hero after her
choice to break the social class code in her filial relationship (193). Therefore, Hero’s love
life and her father’s wishes for a suiter from a noble family prove that Leonato viewed
Messina as a socially defined society.
Conclusively, Leonato viewed Messina as a place where people from the high and
low social classes should not have the same opportunities. The notion is evident in his search
for Hero’s suitor, in which he holds that such a man must be from a high social class family.
The same happens with his niece, whose sharp tang challenges finding a man from such a
family. In addition, the leader acted inconsistently in dealing with people from low-class
backgrounds. For example, he readily welcomed the soldiers mainly from low-class
backgrounds into his house upon returning from war, yet he did not entertain them afterward.
Instead, he relates more with people from his social status. Further, he believes that honor is
the fundamental principle guiding Messina. Therefore, to Leonato, Messina was a place
where social class reigned supreme, where the high and low-class residents should not fall in
love or intermarry.
Shakespeare, William, and McEachern, Claire. Much Ado About Nothing. Arden
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