Although William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing exemplified many different types of literary devices, the most prominent and significant of these was the continual pun on the word nothing. From the start, the title of the play foreshadowed that the concept of "nothing" played an essential role in the play's storyline. Shakespeare brilliantly manipulated the many meanings and various pronunciations of the word, thus creating elaborate wordplays with several different connotations. This continual pun on "nothing" was not limited a particular scene or act, but rather it was prominent throughout the play. Shakespeare continually makes plays on words his works, but In Much Ado About Nothing, none impacted the play as profoundly as his pun on "nothing." This pun fit in very well the atmosphere of the play, particularly in Benedick's and Beatrice's bickering. These witty exchanges signified to the audience that the characters were well educated and clever. Furthermore, they also contributed to the theme of misconception and misinterpretation that was essential to the action of the play. .
In Much Ado About Nothing, the word nothing possessed many different meanings. In order to fully understand the extent of Shakespeare's pun, the reader or audience member must consider that during the late sixteenth century, the word "nothing" would have been pronounced, "noting." In essence, Shakespeare used the pronunciation of "nothing" as a play on the concept of "noting". Shakespeare's was acutely aware of the similarity between the words note, nothing, and nothing. An example of this can be seen in Act II, scene iii: .
Don Pedro: Do it in notes.
Balthasar: Note this before my notes:.
There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.
Don Pedro: Why, these are very crotchets [whimsies] that he speaks - Note notes, forsooth, and nothing!" (II.iii.48-52).
In essence, Shakespeare's elaborate pun upon "nothing" and "noting" thrived upon the various interpretations of these words.