I remember reading Much Ado About Nothing in the 8th grade. I don’t recall what activities I did to supplement the reading, or even the name of my English teacher. I do, however, reminisce about the story because it has an important theme that all 12-13 year olds could probably take a cue from: an element of civility, decorum and over all good manners. It also shows the binary between more complex or more simplistic speech, and how our preconceived good manners can channel the correct use of language.
Throughout the play, I feel that Benedick, Claudio and even Don Pedro use their words and language in a way that, although it may make the young women blush and it is extremely intricate, it still invokes the proper etiquette of the time. I was thinking of the transformation of Claudio as a prime case in how a person can change their language for whatever situation they’re in. For example, Benedick says of Claudio: “He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier, and now he has turned to orthography. His words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes.” (II.iii.16-19) Claudio used to choose a more direct approach in his speech, but after falling in love Hero he takes on a flowery tone. (Benedick even calls Claudio “Monsieur Love”.) (II.iii.31)
Isn’t this something that many adolescents can relate to? They are learning their society’s social graces, and are more capable of manipulating their spoken and written words than when they were younger. Of course, they are going to make mistakes, but they learn to differentiate their speech when they are speaking to friends, to loved ones, and to adults. I think that they can channel themselves into these characters, and can relate to both the bickering and the calm conversations.