In the first two acts of "Much Ado About Nothing," many plot points are set up that remind me of "Twelfth Night." It seems that illusion, disguise, and trickery all play a big part in both of these works. However, this play left me pondering what role exactly deception will play, while Twelfth-Night seemed only to have one clear meaning behind it. The characters within these first two acts are so different that it gives us two completely different views of deceit.
The setting in these first two acts is perfect for the deceptions planned by the various characters. Everyone is attending a masquerade ball and cannot tell each other apart to begin with. Don Pedro sees this as a perfect opportunity to help the shy Claudio woo Hero. I found it interesting that in this part of the play, deception was being used for good, to help someone out. It left me curious about the message Shakespeare was trying to convey about disguise and deception. Maybe he was exploring it in a more light-hearted way than it was explored in Twelft-Night.
Or at least that's what I thought until reading further and deeper into Don John's character, who uses disguise and trickery for malicious and evil reasons.We learn in Act I scene iii of where Don John's mind is. He is resentful of his brother, Don Pedro, who had led a more fortunate life and who just recently started speaking with Don John again after not having a civil relationship. He tells Claudio of his unending sadness, saying that his sadness is "without limit" (ActI line 4). This sadness and jealousy fuel his evil plan of using disguise in order to ruin the newly forming relationships of others. The resentment of his brother is enough to make him seek the unhappiness of those around him, in an attempt to appease his own depression and anger.
I find it interesting that Shakespeare offers these two contrasting views on disguise in this play, although it left me a bit confused. I am interested in seeing where else the idea of deception goes as the play progresses. I believe that in all the confusion, it may get harder to distinguish between good and bad uses of disguise, or even to understand deception as simply one or the other.