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

Ariosto sets the story in question an episode in his

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Ariosto sets the story in question, an episode in his larger romance, in Scotland, and recounts it from the perspective of the lady's maid Dalinda (analogous to the figure of Shakespeare's Margaret), who relates her own misguided part in the proceed- ings. Dalinda is a lover of the knight Polynesso, Duke of Alban. He in turn wishes to marry her mistress Genevra, daughter of the Scottish king, 'Because of her great state and hie condition', although he promises to love Dalinda still: 'notwithstanding wife and all the rest, / I should be sure that he would love me best' (Book 5, 13.3, 14.7-8; Bullough, 85). He persuades Dalinda to make his suit to her mistress on his behalf, and when it is spurned - Genevra unwaveringly loves the Italian knight Ariodante - Polynesso wishes to revenge himself upon her. Polynesso asks Dalinda to make love to him in her mistress's clothing and hair- style, under the pretext that it will serve as a therapeutic exorcism of his love for Genevra ('Thus I may passe my fancies foolish fit'), but really of course to deceive Ariodante (26.1; 88). Dalinda 5
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Introduction agrees, not knowing the true audience of her actions, and eager to resecure Polynesso's undivided attentions no matter how peculiar the means. Ariodante, when confronted with Polynesso's claim to having enjoyed Genevra's 'yvorie corps' (38.2; 91), stoutly defends his lady. However, while fearful for his life from one he intuits is 'this false Duke' (43.4; 92), he nonetheless goes to the appointed viewing place accompanied by his brother, Lurcanio. Ariodante witnesses Polynesso ascend to Genevra's room, and 'straight beleev'd against his owne behoofe, / Seeing her cloth[e]s that he had seene her face' (50.3—4; 94). Lurcanio dissuades Ariodante from suicide, and the latter departs the Scottish court and is soon reputed drowned. The brother subsequently accuses Genevra of unchastity and culpabil- ity for Ariodante's death. Though Genevra's father, the King of Scotland, attempts to get to the bottom of the matter by interview- ing her maids (an action which prompts Dalinda to warn Polynesso), he is nonetheless bound by Scottish law to sentence his daughter to death, unless a champion appears who can kill her accuser in a trial by combat, and thus prove her innocence. Polynesso packs off Dalinda to one of his castles (or so she thinks), with instructions to his men to murder her en route, a plight from which she is rescued by the knight Rinaldo, the principal hero of Ariosto's romance, now journeying through Scotland. She tells Rinaldo her tale, and he speeds to the court of Saint Andrews in time to prevent the combat between Lurcanio and an unknown knight, who, it turns out, is Ariodante in disguise. The lover had thought better of drowning himself, and decided to fight for his lady's honour even though he believed her guilty and the combat was against his own brother.
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