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Lecture 9

ENGL 2P80 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Blind Experiment, Cuckold, Tangled

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Mathew Martin

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ENGL2P80 Much Ado About Nothing
Classied as a problem comedy.
Next Lecture: Talk about the Plays Genre
Plays Title:
oIn its primary sense the word nothing is a paradox – on the one hand
as a known the words function is to denote or point to something. On
the other hand what the word denotes is the absence of something, of
anything at all. The word nothing is a substantive that completely lacks
substance. The Much Ado is driven by the paradox of nothing – a series
of events where nothing seems to have a lot of substance indeed.
oWe can gain some precision in our analysis in the signicance of
nothing in the play and knowledge by examining the two meanings of
the word
16 century English Nothing pronounces as noting – observing or
remarking acts of perception or misperception.
The link between perception and knowledge is subject to
regular human manipulation – not an act of god or fairies
like MND, but an act of power and it has lasting and
troubling consequences. The ctional world of the play is
a shbowl world in which everyone looks and is looked at,
overhears and Is overheard, deceived and is deceived –
shifting relationships of cognitive superiority. Who knows
more than who is very important in the play. The cognitive
superiority is very transitory. The play is full of such
ironies and its nal irony is that the person who ultimately
does know and occupy the position of cognitive
superiority is dogberry.
2nd meaning – slang for female genitals – the object of
perception and the act of perception are deeply sexualised or
eroticised. And this is the case in Claudio’s attempt to know
Hero’s sexuality that triggers much ado about nothing which
constitutes the comedic action of the plot.
Cuckoldry – two the triangular relationship of knowledge created by
oWomen considered as property through which power, wealth and
privilege are transmitted. If they are, then for men, a lot depends on
their ability to secure the exclusivity to acquire this piece, their ability
to police their sexuality. Man who fails to police his wife or daughter’s
sexuality and control her chastity, then he fails as a man and is
dishonored. This is where cuckoldry comes in. One man cuckolds
another man when he sleeps with that mans wife. The man doing the
cuckolding is in a cognitively superior position than the man he has
cuckold. The man doing the cuckolding knows shes nothing, the man
being cuckolded does not. The man doing it knows that the husband is
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