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Much Ado About Nothing
Act 1, scene 1

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Entire Play

The primary plot of Much Ado About Nothing turns on the courtship and scandal involving young Hero and her suitor, Claudio, but…

Act 1, scene 1

The army of Don Pedro of Aragon arrives in Messina and is welcomed by Leonato, Messina’s governor. Benedick of Padua,…

Act 1, scene 2

Leonato is given a garbled account of the conversation between Don Pedro and Claudio, and is led to believe that…

Act 1, scene 3

Don John, Don Pedro’s brother, receives a true account of Don Pedro’s plan to woo Hero for Claudio. Resentful of…

Act 2, scene 1

Don Pedro and his soldiers, disguised in masks, dance with the ladies of Leonato’s household. While Don Pedro woos Hero,…

Act 2, scene 2

Don John and his henchman Borachio agree on a plan to disrupt the coming marriage: Borachio will convince Claudio that…

Act 2, scene 3

Leonato, Claudio, and Don Pedro stage a conversation for Benedick to overhear. They talk about Beatrice’s desperate love for Benedick,…

Act 3, scene 1

Beatrice is lured into overhearing a staged conversation between Hero and Ursula, a waiting gentlewoman, who talk about Benedick’s desperate…

Act 3, scene 2

Benedick appears with his beard shaved off and showing other signs of having fallen in love. When he exits with…

Act 3, scene 3

That night, Messina’s master constable, Dogberry, and his assistant, Verges, set the night watch, telling the watchmen to pay particular…

Act 3, scene 4

Early the next morning, Hero prepares for the wedding. Beatrice enters, suffering, she says, from a bad cold, but Hero…

Act 3, scene 5

Dogberry and Verges try to tell Leonato about the arrest of Borachio and Conrade, but they are so unintelligible that…

Act 4, scene 1

At the wedding, Claudio publicly denounces Hero as a lewd woman. He is supported in his story by Don Pedro…

Act 4, scene 2

Dogberry ineptly questions Borachio and Conrade about the deception of Claudio and Don Pedro. The Sexton has Borachio and Conrade…

Act 5, scene 1

Leonato and his brother tell Claudio and Don Pedro of Hero’s death, and attempt to challenge them to a duel….

Act 5, scene 2

Benedick tells Beatrice that he has challenged Claudio. They are summoned to Leonato’s house with the news that Hero’s innocence…

Act 5, scene 3

Claudio appears at Leonato’s family tomb, has a song sung for Hero, and hangs a scroll on the tomb.

Act 5, scene 4

Claudio and Don Pedro appear for the second wedding. The women enter masked. When Claudio takes the hand of Leonato’s…

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Scene 1
Enter Leonato, Governor of Messina, Hero his daughter,
and Beatrice his niece, with a Messenger.


LEONATO, with a letter I learn in this letter that Don
 Pedro of Aragon comes this night to Messina.
MESSENGER He is very near by this. He was not three
 leagues off when I left him.
LEONATO 5How many gentlemen have you lost in this
 action?
MESSENGER But few of any sort, and none of name.
LEONATO A victory is twice itself when the achiever
 brings home full numbers. I find here that Don
10 Pedro hath bestowed much honor on a young
 Florentine called Claudio.
MESSENGER Much deserved on his part, and equally
 remembered by Don Pedro. He hath borne himself
 beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure
15 of a lamb the feats of a lion. He hath indeed better
 bettered expectation than you must expect of me to
 tell you how.
LEONATO He hath an uncle here in Messina will be
 very much glad of it.
MESSENGER 20I have already delivered him letters, and
 there appears much joy in him, even so much that
 joy could not show itself modest enough without a
 badge of bitterness.
7

9
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

LEONATO Did he break out into tears?
MESSENGER 25In great measure.
LEONATO A kind overflow of kindness. There are no
 faces truer than those that are so washed. How
 much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at
 weeping!
BEATRICE 30I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned
 from the wars or no?
MESSENGER I know none of that name, lady. There
 was none such in the army of any sort.
LEONATO What is he that you ask for, niece?
HERO 35My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
MESSENGER O, he’s returned, and as pleasant as ever
 he was.
BEATRICE He set up his bills here in Messina and
 challenged Cupid at the flight, and my uncle’s Fool,
40 reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid and
 challenged him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how
 many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But
 how many hath he killed? For indeed I promised to
 eat all of his killing.
LEONATO 45Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too
 much, but he’ll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
MESSENGER He hath done good service, lady, in these
 wars.
BEATRICE You had musty victual, and he hath holp to
50 eat it. He is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an
 excellent stomach.
MESSENGER And a good soldier too, lady.
BEATRICE And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he
 to a lord?
MESSENGER 55A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed
 with all honorable virtues.
BEATRICE It is so indeed. He is no less than a stuffed
 man, but for the stuffing—well, we are all mortal.

11
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

LEONATO You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is
60 a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and
 her. They never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit
 between them.
BEATRICE Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last
 conflict, four of his five wits went halting off, and
65 now is the whole man governed with one, so that if
 he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him
 bear it for a difference between himself and his
 horse, for it is all the wealth that he hath left to
 be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion
70 now? He hath every month a new sworn
 brother.
MESSENGER Is ’t possible?
BEATRICE Very easily possible. He wears his faith but
 as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the
75 next block.
MESSENGER I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your
 books.
BEATRICE No. An he were, I would burn my study. But
 I pray you, who is his companion? Is there no
80 young squarer now that will make a voyage with
 him to the devil?
MESSENGER He is most in the company of the right
 noble Claudio.
BEATRICE O Lord, he will hang upon him like a
85 disease! He is sooner caught than the pestilence,
 and the taker runs presently mad. God help the
 noble Claudio! If he have caught the Benedick, it
 will cost him a thousand pound ere he be cured.
MESSENGER I will hold friends with you, lady.
BEATRICE 90Do, good friend.
LEONATO You will never run mad, niece.
BEATRICE No, not till a hot January.
MESSENGER Don Pedro is approached.

13
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

Enter Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, with Claudio,
Benedick, Balthasar, and John the Bastard.


PRINCE Good Signior Leonato, are you come to meet
95 your trouble? The fashion of the world is to avoid
 cost, and you encounter it.
LEONATO Never came trouble to my house in the
 likeness of your Grace, for trouble being gone,
 comfort should remain, but when you depart from
100 me, sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave.
PRINCE You embrace your charge too willingly. Turning
 to Hero. 
I think this is your daughter.
LEONATO Her mother hath many times told me so.
BENEDICK Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?
LEONATO 105Signior Benedick, no, for then were you a
 child.
PRINCE You have it full, Benedick. We may guess by
 this what you are, being a man. Truly the lady
 fathers herself.—Be happy, lady, for you are like
110 an honorable father.
Leonato and the Prince move aside.
BENEDICK If Signior Leonato be her father, she would
 not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina,
 as like him as she is.
BEATRICE I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
115 Benedick, nobody marks you.
BENEDICK What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet
 living?
BEATRICE Is it possible disdain should die while she
 hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?
120 Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if you come
 in her presence.
BENEDICK Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain
 I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and
 I would I could find in my heart that I had not a
125 hard heart, for truly I love none.

15
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

BEATRICE A dear happiness to women. They would
 else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I
 thank God and my cold blood I am of your humor
 for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow
130 than a man swear he loves me.
BENEDICK God keep your Ladyship still in that mind,
 so some gentleman or other shall ’scape a predestinate
 scratched face.
BEATRICE Scratching could not make it worse an
135 ’twere such a face as yours were.
BENEDICK Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
BEATRICE A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of
 yours.
BENEDICK I would my horse had the speed of your
140 tongue and so good a continuer, but keep your
 way, i’ God’s name, I have done.
BEATRICE You always end with a jade’s trick. I know
 you of old.
Leonato and the Prince come forward.
PRINCE That is the sum of all, Leonato.—Signior
145 Claudio and Signior Benedick, my dear friend
 Leonato hath invited you all. I tell him we shall stay
 here at the least a month, and he heartily prays
 some occasion may detain us longer. I dare swear
 he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
LEONATO 150If you swear, my lord, you shall not be
 forsworn. To Don John. Let me bid you welcome,
 my lord, being reconciled to the Prince your brother,
 I owe you all duty.
DON JOHN I thank you. I am not of many words, but I
155 thank you.
LEONATO Please it your Grace lead on?
PRINCE Your hand, Leonato. We will go together.
All exit except Benedick and Claudio.
CLAUDIO Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of
 Signior Leonato?

17
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

BENEDICK 160I noted her not, but I looked on her.
CLAUDIO Is she not a modest young lady?
BENEDICK Do you question me as an honest man
 should do, for my simple true judgment? Or would
 you have me speak after my custom, as being a
165 professed tyrant to their sex?
CLAUDIO No, I pray thee, speak in sober judgment.
BENEDICK Why, i’ faith, methinks she’s too low for a
 high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too
 little for a great praise. Only this commendation I
170 can afford her, that were she other than she is, she
 were unhandsome, and being no other but as she is,
 I do not like her.
CLAUDIO Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell
 me truly how thou lik’st her.
BENEDICK 175Would you buy her that you enquire after
 her?
CLAUDIO Can the world buy such a jewel?
BENEDICK Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you
 this with a sad brow? Or do you play the flouting
180 jack, to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder and
 Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in what key shall a
 man take you to go in the song?
CLAUDIO In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever
 I looked on.
BENEDICK 185I can see yet without spectacles, and I see
 no such matter. There’s her cousin, an she were not
 possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in
 beauty as the first of May doth the last of December.
 But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have
190 you?
CLAUDIO I would scarce trust myself, though I had
 sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
BENEDICK Is ’t come to this? In faith, hath not the
 world one man but he will wear his cap with
195 suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore

19
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

 again? Go to, i’ faith, an thou wilt needs thrust
 thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it, and sigh
 away Sundays. Look, Don Pedro is returned to seek
 you.

Enter Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon.

PRINCE 200What secret hath held you here that you followed
 not to Leonato’s?
BENEDICK I would your Grace would constrain me to
 tell.
PRINCE I charge thee on thy allegiance.
BENEDICK 205You hear, Count Claudio, I can be secret as
 a dumb man, I would have you think so, but on my
 allegiance—mark you this, on my allegiance—he
 is in love. With who? Now, that is your Grace’s part.
 Mark how short his answer is: with Hero, Leonato’s
210 short daughter.
CLAUDIO If this were so, so were it uttered.
BENEDICK Like the old tale, my lord: “It is not so, nor
 ’twas not so, but, indeed, God forbid it should be
 so.”
CLAUDIO 215If my passion change not shortly, God forbid
 it should be otherwise.
PRINCE Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well
 worthy.
CLAUDIO You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
PRINCE 220By my troth, I speak my thought.
CLAUDIO And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.
BENEDICK And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I
 spoke mine.
CLAUDIO That I love her, I feel.
PRINCE 225That she is worthy, I know.
BENEDICK That I neither feel how she should be loved
 nor know how she should be worthy is the opinion
 that fire cannot melt out of me. I will die in it at the
 stake.

21
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

PRINCE 230Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the
 despite of beauty.
CLAUDIO And never could maintain his part but in the
 force of his will.
BENEDICK That a woman conceived me, I thank her;
235 that she brought me up, I likewise give her most
 humble thanks. But that I will have a recheat
 winded in my forehead or hang my bugle in an
 invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me.
 Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust
240 any, I will do myself the right to trust none. And the
 fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a
 bachelor.
PRINCE I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
BENEDICK With anger, with sickness, or with hunger,
245 my lord, not with love. Prove that ever I lose more
 blood with love than I will get again with drinking,
 pick out mine eyes with a ballad-maker’s pen and
 hang me up at the door of a brothel house for the
 sign of blind Cupid.
PRINCE 250Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou
 wilt prove a notable argument.
BENEDICK If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and
 shoot at me, and he that hits me, let him be clapped
 on the shoulder and called Adam.
PRINCE 255Well, as time shall try.
 In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.
BENEDICK The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible
 Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull’s horns and set
 them in my forehead, and let me be vilely painted,
260 and in such great letters as they write “Here is good
 horse to hire” let them signify under my sign “Here
 you may see Benedick the married man.”
CLAUDIO If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be
 horn-mad.

23
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

PRINCE 265Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in
 Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.
BENEDICK I look for an earthquake too, then.
PRINCE Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the
 meantime, good Signior Benedick, repair to Leonato’s.
270 Commend me to him, and tell him I will not
 fail him at supper, for indeed he hath made great
 preparation.
BENEDICK I have almost matter enough in me for such
 an embassage, and so I commit you—
CLAUDIO 275To the tuition of God. From my house, if I had
 it—
PRINCE The sixth of July. Your loving friend,
 Benedick.
BENEDICK Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your
280 discourse is sometimes guarded with fragments,
 and the guards are but slightly basted on neither.
 Ere you flout old ends any further, examine your
 conscience. And so I leave you.He exits.
CLAUDIO 
 My liege, your Highness now may do me good.
PRINCE 
285 My love is thine to teach. Teach it but how,
 And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
 Any hard lesson that may do thee good.
CLAUDIO 
 Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
PRINCE 
 No child but Hero; she’s his only heir.
290 Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
CLAUDIO  O, my lord,
 When you went onward on this ended action,
 I looked upon her with a soldier’s eye,
 That liked, but had a rougher task in hand
295 Than to drive liking to the name of love.
 But now I am returned and that war thoughts

25
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
 Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
 All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
300 Saying I liked her ere I went to wars.
PRINCE 
 Thou wilt be like a lover presently
 And tire the hearer with a book of words.
 If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
 And I will break with her and with her father,
305 And thou shalt have her. Was ’t not to this end
 That thou began’st to twist so fine a story?
CLAUDIO 
 How sweetly you do minister to love,
 That know love’s grief by his complexion!
 But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
310 I would have salved it with a longer treatise.
PRINCE 
 What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
 The fairest grant is the necessity.
 Look what will serve is fit. ’Tis once, thou lovest,
 And I will fit thee with the remedy.
315 I know we shall have reveling tonight.
 I will assume thy part in some disguise
 And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
 And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heart
 And take her hearing prisoner with the force
320 And strong encounter of my amorous tale.
 Then after to her father will I break,
 And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
 In practice let us put it presently.
They exit.