Shakespeare, W - Much Ado About Nothing (Arden, 2006).pdf

Another woman than fenicia or even to commit a theft

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another woman than Fenicia, or even to commit a theft' (123). However, the greatest impact of Fenicia's funeral is upon Sir Girondo, who has become virtually suicidal not only for the loss of his beloved but for his dishonour in having been a cause of such harm. His contrition provides for the discovery of the deception. Consequently, a week after the funeral he confesses his sins to Sir Timbreo, and before her supposed tomb offers him both his poniard and his bared breast. Not to be outdone in chivalry, Sir Timbreo cites his own over-credulity as equally culpable, and the two men decide to clear Fenicia's name (Sir Timbreo only scolds Sir Girondo for not having disclosed his love to him, claiming that he would have 'preferred our friendship to my desire', 124). The repentant duo repair to Messer Lionato, who secures Sir Timbreo's promise to wed a woman of the latter's choosing. A year later Sir Timbreo willingly weds the much-improved Fenicia, who, like the phoenix after whom she is named, has been reborn through her trial. Sir Timbreo discovers her true identity before the marriage, but only after he recounts his love for the dead Fenicia. Sir Girondo weds her sister. 1 Shakespeare's transformations of his sources: the creation of a social world Ariosto and Bandello have been singled out as the most likely influences upon Shakespeare's play, the former for the particular means of the deception, and the latter for its obvious links of setting and names (Messer Lionato of Messina, King Piero of Aragon, etc.). The social universe of Bandello's novella is cer- tainly the more akin to Shakespeare's Messina. Rather than court intrigue or the accidental landscapes of romance, he chooses to set his story in the gossipy confines of a leisured household in 1 For a fuller treatment of the differences of play and source, see McEachern, 'Fathering'. 11
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Introduction a small town, places best suited to creating the sense of social proximity in which rumours are born and transmitted, in which the notable are much noted, mostly by each other. This sense of a provincial (if aristocratic) identity extends to the incongru- ously home-grown quality of Dogberry and his men (who, with their ostentatiously English names, may lend a comforting and plebeian familiarity to Messinese society, Messina being as remote as the moon to the majority of Shakespeare's audience). This sense of social proximity also accounts for the Watch's knowledge of and attention to their neighbour's doings ('I pray you watch about Signor Leonato's door, for the wedding being there tomorrow, there is a great coil tonight', 3.3.89-91). Shakespeare's portrait of communal and quotidian life - also conveyed by such details as the passing mention of Claudio's uncle (1.1.17), Benedick's trip to the barber (3.2.41-3), Margaret's account of the Duchess of Milan's wedding gown 'that they praise so' (3.4.15) - builds upon Bandello's implicit sense of the busy and close- knit Messinese society that rallies around the family of Messer Lionato and pressures Sir Timbreo to re-examine his convictions
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