A general doubt survives as to Shakespeare's knowledge and use of Italian. In spite of some admissions, there is a tendency to follow Richard Farmer's argument that Shakespeare got such knowledge from English textbooks or translations. For example, it is suggested that the Hero-Claudio story in Much Ado About Nothing comes not from Ariosto's Orlando Furioso but from the English translation by Sir John Harington or from one of the many English versions of the story.
Shakespeare's knowledge and use of Italian, however, can be illustrated and established by reference to cantos IV-VI of Orlando Furioso. These cantos provided Shakespeare with material not only for the Hero-Claudio theme in Much Ado, but also for King Lear and Othello. It was typical of him to conflate several sources in one play. Thus he combined the Hero-Claudio (Genevra-Ariodante) theme with other sources, such as Bandello, Whetstone, or Spenser.