Deception plays a huge role in the plot of Much Ado About Nothing, from the major dramas of Don John and Claudio’s love to the duping that led to the bringing together of Benedick and Beatrice. Although to many deceit has a negative connotation, in the play it all depends on the intentions of the trickers. The characters that misled Benedick and Beatrice, manipulating their arrogance and personality meant only to spread love and entertainment, which it certainly did – so that sort of deception was justified in the play.
Ursula’s words when deceiving Beatrice, “Doth not the gentleman deserve as full as fortunate a bed as ever Beatrice shall couch upon” have a light-hearted tone and promoting happiness is really the only motive. Don John’s villainy, however, is an entirely different matter. His schemes to dismantle Claudio and Hero’s relationship led to disastrous consequences and the public humiliation of an innocent young woman during her marriage ceremony.
These wrongs could only be righted with another deception: Hero’s death. It was only with her symbolic death and resurrection that her purity could be reinstated – it would “change slander to remorse”, the friar said – and her relationship with Claudio reconciled. However, deceit in non-evil circumstances isn’t hallowed unquestionably in Much Ado About Nothing, because we are made to query the necessity of some of this incessant trickery like the conversations of Beatrice and also Don Pedro at the masked ball. All in all, there are mixed messages about different sorts of deception in the play, and really it’s up to the individual what to take of those messages.