When we last wrote about Much Ado About Nothing, we were using the concordance in our discussion of the concept of “noting” or pointing out something or taking notice.
You know, listening.
Which got me to thinking: is the use of other listening terms (list, listen, hear) as pervasive here as it was with “note”?
The answer is pretty much “yes.”
For “hear,” only the tragedy Coriolanus has more uses with 53. Much Ado has 41; the nearest comedy is The Merry Wives of Windsor with just over half that, 23 uses.
For the past tense “heard,” no play uses the word more than 18 times (tragedies Coriolanus and Othello). In the comedies, The Taming of the Shrew has 13 uses in 9 speeches. Much Ado, however, does have 11 uses in as many speeches; so you could make the argument that this play’s of the word is just as pervasive.
As for the gerund “hearing,” Much Ado has only one usage, while other comedies and plays of other genres have as many as eight uses.
For the verb “list,” quite a few plays use it, but only sparingly. Much Ado uses it twice in one speech by Margaret, to lead the comedies. Taming uses it many times as a verb, but only once to mean “to listen.” In other genres, Hamlet leads with five uses in three speeches.
And for the full verb “listen,” no play has more than two uses and Much Ado has one.
All of this tells me that this concept of “noting” and listening is crucial to Much Ado.