Much Ado About Nothing Character Review: Dogberry

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting last week. Life got in the way and I also saw Billy Joel.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Every serious drama needs a comedic break. Without it, the narrative could easily become emotionally heavy.

In Much Ado About Nothing, our comic relief is Dogberry. The local constable, he is responsible for the security of all who live in the area. But that does not mean that he is the most competent person for the job. Instead of leading his men and actively ensuring that all citizens and property are secure, he would rather provide the minimum amount of instructions possible and sleep on the job. Dogberry is also somewhat of a crime germophobe, preferring that his deputies catch the criminals, lest he is defiled by association.

When his men overhear that Don John is planning to use accuse Hero of cheating on her fiance, Claudio, they report what have heard. Knowing that this is his opportunity to impress his employer, Dogberry tries to explain to Leonato what has conspired. But he has both lousy timing and the inability to clearly make his case. Leonato dismisses him and prepares for the wedding that will not happen.

When Don John’s co-conspirators reveal the truth, Hero’s reputation is cleared and the criminals are brought to justice. Dogberry is honored for his work and move on with his life.

To sum it up: Dogberry is the release valve that the audience needs. Though his ability to do his job is reminiscent of the Keystone Cops, he is able to prove his worth by the end of the play. Even if we are laughing at him, knowing that the miscommunication between himself and Leonato turns this romantic comedy into a drama.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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