Much Ado About Nothing Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing boasts one of Shakespeare’s most delightful heroines, most dancing wordplay, and the endearing spectacle of intellectual and social self-importance bested by the desire to love and be loved in return. It offers both the dancing wit of the “merry war” between the sexes, and a sobering vision of the costs of that combat for both men and women. Shakespeare dramatizes a social world in all of its vibrant particulars, in which characters are shaped by the relations between social convention and individual choice. This edition of the play offers in its introduction and commentary an extensive discussion of the materials that informed Shakespeare’s compositional choices, both those conventional sources and other contexts, from cuckold jokes to conduct books, which inform the ideas and identities of this play. Particular attention is devoted to Renaissance understandings of gender identity and social rank, as well as to the social valences of Shakespeare’s stylistic choices. A treatment of staging possibilities offers illustrations drawn from the earliest and recent theatrical practices, and a critical history examines the fate of the play in the changing trends of academic scholarship.