The Merchant of Venice and Much Ado about Nothing are remarkable comedic plays written by William Shakespeare. Although they were separate plays with its own individual plots, they shared a lot of comparable concepts. The characters and plots had similar characteristics and endings, making it feel like Shakespeare wrote them using the same formula. But one common aspect that stood out the most was the theme of love. The plot was driven by the characters’ aspirations for each other, the problems that disrupted their relationship, and the fortunate events that brought them back together.
The main love interest in Much Ado about Nothing was between Claudio and Hero, while the one in Merchant of Vernice was between Bassonio and Portia. These couples were both brought together through love at first sight and they seemed destined for one another, but the process or nature of this was different. Claudio immediately fell in love with Hero when he saw her, and because of this Hero reflected congruent feelings. Not long after meeting, the couple pledged their love to one another and decided to be married. On the other hand, Portia was a wealthy heiress who was going to marry whoever picked the correct casket. Many people came from around the world to attempt to marry her because of her wealth, but unfortunately for them, they all chose the wrong one. This relieved Portia because this system was set up by her father, and in truth, she did not like any of the men who came by. After a while of stress and concern, she remembers Bassanio and hopes to marry him. This was because he had the background closest to her own, meaning they had similar characteristics and interests. When he arrived, he not only fell in love with her, but as if they were meant to be together, he picked the correct casket. Portia loved him back and knew that Bassanio was not here just because of her wealth. Despite of this, she had another requirement for Bassanio. To show his loyalty, had to keep her ring on his hands forever or else their marriage is over. The significance of these events tells us that they were destined for one another. In the town that Claudio returned to, there were numerous girls that he could’ve gone for, but by just a glance at her face, he knew he was in love. In the world of The Merchant of Venice, many men came, including a prince that Portia could’ve married. There were only 3 caskets to pick from, and considering the chances, it would be very unlikely for the men to not have picked the lead casket before Bassanio. This shows that it wasn’t luck that brought the couples together, but it was by fate and their undying love for one another.
However, when things seemed to be going well and that the couples were joyful, a turn of events ruin it. In Much Ado about Nothing, Don Pedro’s evil brother, Don John, plots against Claudio’s relationship. He leads his group of bad guys to fool Claudio to think that Hero cheated on him. This enraged Claudio, causing him to release his anger on the wedding day in front of all the guests and humiliate Hero. She was later said to have died from the shock of the horrific event. For Bassanio, the rough situation was quite different. Antonio, his best friend, was going to lose a pound of flesh because his investments were told to have been destroyed. When he goes to support Antonio, to his knowledge, he was separated from Portia. What he did not know was that Portia went with him, but was disguised as a man. When their lawyer, or Portia, helped them win the case and save Antonio from harm, Bassanio gave his ring as a gift. Because he was supposed to keep that ring on no matter the circumstance or else he is giving up his marriage, he basically gave up his relationship with Portia right in front of her, since the lawyer was her. At these points in the two plays, both men were deceived in various ways but had a common downfall. Their relationships were broken and they pretty much lost their partners. However, due to mercy and forgiveness, things would turn out for the better.
As the plot progressed, the heart-broken characters slowly healed their wounds. Claudio found out that Hero was innocent, and mourned for her because he thought she was dead. Feeling guilty, he made a deal with Leonato’s cousin. He was to marry his niece that looked very much like Hero. When the wedding day came, it was revealed to Claudio that Hero was still alive and that he was going to have another chance to marry her. This brought joy and optimism into Claudio because he was finally married to Hero. Similarly, in Much Ado about Nothing, when Bassanio returned home and tried to explain everything to Portia, Portia played little jokes on him, sarcastically questioning his decision to give away the ring when she had it. After a while, she revealed to Bassanio that the lawyer was actually her and displayed her care for the loving relationship by showing mercy and returning the ring, giving Bassanio another chance. This also enlightened Bassanio, meaning both the couples in the two plays ended with healthy relationships.
Shakespeare was known for making plays that were exciting and intriguing by filling them with romance. The details of the two plots were rather different, but the main idea or the bigger picture of them were quite similar. The characters fell in love in the beginning, disastrous events broke them apart, and fortunate events brought them back together. This shows us that people will undoubtedly run into difficult situations in life, but the problems and solutions to them will always be different for everyone. The common theme of love in these plays also teaches us that we should not take anything for granted and should show mercy to those who have made mistakes. By doing so, we would be able to avoid tough situations, or when they do occur, go through them with less destruction.
When we were told to write this piece, I realized how similar these two plays were. I didn’t really recognize it when we were watching the movie in class and going through the script, but it was quite clear afterward. This shows us Shakespeare’s famous writing style and how he doesn’t really change the plot. I was quite amazed by this and enjoyed discussing the similarities between these two remarkable plays.