Worth was determined by their social status, and their social status determined how others regarded their word. Especially prominent during Shakespeare’s time and in Much Ado About Nothing, which he wrote. In the play, there are three separate classes that determine the worth of someone’s word. At the bottom of the ladder there is Dogberry, the watch men, Don John, and other nameless people. Their word is not considered very important and meaningful and is sometimes dismissed.
The middle of the class consists of Claudio, Benedick, Beatrice, and Hero. Lastly, the top of the social status mountain is Leanato and Don Pedro, and they have the most power of all of the characters. In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing the worth of someone’s word, weather it is meaningful, considered, or dismissed, depends on their social status. Dogberry and Don John represent the lowest tier or those whose word means the least to others and their word is frequently dismissed or ignored.
In act three Dogberry and the watch men catch Conrad and Borachio talking about how they deceived Claudio and Don Pedro by making them think someone was having sex with Hero but, instead it was with Maregret. The morning after they catch Conrad and Borachio, Dogberry and Verges go to Leanato to tell him about the information they have found and because of their class and ignorance Leanato dismisses them “Take their examination yourself and bring it me. “(3. 5. 47-48) he basically completely ignores them because he is busy.
Next, there is Don John, he is considered to be on the bottom because he is bastard. In the first scene Leanato meets Don John, Leanato knows who he is and does not care about him “Please it your Grace lead on? “(1. 1. 156) basically quote is Leanato saying do whatever you like I do not care’. Another example is durning the conversation between Dogberry, Verges and Leanato, when Dogberry is being incompetent and Leanato is busy because it is the days of the wedding.
But, during this conversation Leanato says, “Neighbors, you are tedious” (3. 5. 17) in this quote Leanato tells Verges and Dogberry very frankly that they are annoying him and that they should leave. Overall, the upper class sometimes subtly and sometimes very frankly but, most of the time they dismiss things the lower class says. There is also the middle tier of the three groups, this crowd consists of the two couples that are discussed in the story and their word is considered but not taken as law or one hundred percent truth.
First, there is when Leanato is yelling at Hero for ‘being unfaithful’ but, he wont listen to her at all besides, the fact the friar asks her for the truth and the group hears what she has to say and then they believe her. The reason they believe her is because of Benedick, he says that Claudio and Don Pedro must have been tricked by John the Bastard “their wisdoms be mislead in this, the practice of it lives in John the Bastard,”(4. 1. 197-198) this shows that the confirmation from another person validates their word therefore showing that their word alone is only considered but, not taken as truth.
Furthermore, when Hero and Claudio first show their love for each other Don Pedro and Beatrice are there, Beatrice says how she wont speak aloud but, she whispers that she loves him back,”My cousin tells him in his ear that he is in her heart”(2. 1. 308-309) Beatrice says this to Don John. After that Claudio says “and so she doth, cousin. “(2. 1. 310) he says this to confirm what she says as if it is a double check because the word of the middle class people needs to be double checked or confirmed.
Lastly, there is the group at the top of the ladder, the highest ranking people in the play are Don Pedro and Leanato and there word is very meaningful and has lots of power. To go with this Leanato gives away his only daughter to Claudio only because of the word of Don Pedro “Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won. I have broke with her father and his goodwill obtained. “(2. 1. 292-294) this shows how a man is willing to trust someone solely by the word of someone in the upper class or with high status like Don Pedro.
Also, there is when Don Pedro confirms what Claudio is saying when he accuses Hero of being unfaithful and the Prince backs up what Claudio is saying “Leanato, I am sorry you must hear. Upon my honor, myself, my brother, and this grieved count did see her, hear her, at that hour last night… “(4. 1. 92-95). In regards to with Leanato when he tells the Prince and Claudio that Hero is dead “Thou hast killed my child. “(5. 1. 88) he has no trouble convincing them because he has power and respect and they believe what he says. Considering this information it is clear that when people with power speak it is considered to be truth.
As one can see the status of someone dictates how much their word means and how much impact it has on others. With the lower class their word is dismissed. With the middle class others consider what they say but, don’t take it for one hundred percent truth. Lastly, the people holding the most power their word is considered to be truth. Overall, it is unreasonable to say that in Shakespeare’s time one class did not dictate the meaning of someone’s word, because clearly it did and someone social status greatly impacted they way people lived and socialized.