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Much Ado About Nothing
Act 2, 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, his brother, Hero his daughter, and
Beatrice his niece, with Ursula and Margaret.


LEONATO Was not Count John here at supper?
LEONATO’S BROTHER I saw him not.
BEATRICE How tartly that gentleman looks! I never
 can see him but I am heartburned an hour after.
HERO 5He is of a very melancholy disposition.
BEATRICE He were an excellent man that were made
 just in the midway between him and Benedick. The
 one is too like an image and says nothing, and the
 other too like my lady’s eldest son, evermore
10 tattling.
LEONATO Then half Signior Benedick’s tongue in
 Count John’s mouth, and half Count John’s melancholy
 in Signior Benedick’s face—
BEATRICE With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and
15 money enough in his purse, such a man would win
 any woman in the world if he could get her
 goodwill.
LEONATO By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a
 husband if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.
LEONATO’S BROTHER 20In faith, she’s too curst.
BEATRICE Too curst is more than curst. I shall lessen
 God’s sending that way, for it is said “God sends a
37

39
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ACT 2. SC. 1

 curst cow short horns,” but to a cow too curst, he
 sends none.
LEONATO 25So, by being too curst, God will send you no
 horns.
BEATRICE Just, if He send me no husband, for the
 which blessing I am at Him upon my knees every
 morning and evening. Lord, I could not endure a
30 husband with a beard on his face. I had rather lie in
 the woolen!
LEONATO You may light on a husband that hath no
 beard.
BEATRICE What should I do with him? Dress him in my
35 apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman?
 He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he
 that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is
 more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less
 than a man, I am not for him. Therefore I will even
40 take sixpence in earnest of the bearherd, and lead
 his apes into hell.
LEONATO Well then, go you into hell?
BEATRICE No, but to the gate, and there will the devil
 meet me like an old cuckold with horns on his
45 head, and say “Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you
 to heaven; here’s no place for you maids.” So deliver
 I up my apes and away to Saint Peter; for the
 heavens, he shows me where the bachelors sit, and
 there live we as merry as the day is long.
LEONATO’S BROTHER, to Hero 50Well, niece, I trust you
 will be ruled by your father.
BEATRICE Yes, faith, it is my cousin’s duty to make
 curtsy and say “Father, as it please you.” But yet for
 all that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or
55 else make another curtsy and say “Father, as it
 please me.”
LEONATO Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted
 with a husband.

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ACT 2. SC. 1

BEATRICE Not till God make men of some other metal
60 than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be
 overmastered with a piece of valiant dust? To make
 an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?
 No, uncle, I’ll none. Adam’s sons are my brethren,
 and truly I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.
LEONATO, to Hero 65Daughter, remember what I told
 you. If the Prince do solicit you in that kind, you
 know your answer.
BEATRICE The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you
 be not wooed in good time. If the Prince be too
70 important, tell him there is measure in everything,
 and so dance out the answer. For hear me, Hero,
 wooing, wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig, a
 measure, and a cinquepace. The first suit is hot and
 hasty like a Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; the
75 wedding, mannerly modest as a measure, full of
 state and ancientry; and then comes repentance,
 and with his bad legs falls into the cinquepace faster
 and faster till he sink into his grave.
LEONATO Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.
BEATRICE 80I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church
 by daylight.
LEONATO The revelers are entering, brother. Make
 good room.Leonato and his brother step aside.

Enter, with a Drum, Prince Pedro, Claudio, and
Benedick, Signior Antonio, and Balthasar, all in
masks, with Borachio and Don John.


PRINCE, to Hero Lady, will you walk a bout with your
85 friend?They begin to dance.
HERO So you walk softly, and look sweetly, and say
 nothing, I am yours for the walk, and especially
 when I walk away.
PRINCE With me in your company?
HERO 90I may say so when I please.

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ACT 2. SC. 1

PRINCE And when please you to say so?
HERO When I like your favor, for God defend the lute
 should be like the case.
PRINCE My visor is Philemon’s roof; within the house
95 is Jove.
HERO Why, then, your visor should be thatched.
PRINCE Speak low if you speak love.
They move aside;
Benedick and Margaret move forward.

BENEDICK, to Margaret Well, I would you did like me.
MARGARET So would not I for your own sake, for I have
100 many ill qualities.
BENEDICK Which is one?
MARGARET I say my prayers aloud.
BENEDICK I love you the better; the hearers may cry
 “Amen.”
MARGARET 105God match me with a good dancer.
They separate; Benedick moves aside;
Balthasar moves forward.

BALTHASAR Amen.
MARGARET And God keep him out of my sight when the
 dance is done. Answer, clerk.
BALTHASAR No more words. The clerk is answered.
They move aside;
Ursula and Antonio move forward.

URSULA 110I know you well enough. You are Signior
 Antonio.
ANTONIO At a word, I am not.
URSULA I know you by the waggling of your head.
ANTONIO To tell you true, I counterfeit him.
URSULA 115You could never do him so ill-well unless you
 were the very man. Here’s his dry hand up and
 down. You are he, you are he.
ANTONIO At a word, I am not.
URSULA Come, come, do you think I do not know you
120 by your excellent wit? Can virtue hide itself? Go to,

45
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ACT 2. SC. 1

 mum, you are he. Graces will appear, and there’s an
 end.
They move aside;
Benedick and Beatrice move forward.

BEATRICE Will you not tell me who told you so?
BENEDICK No, you shall pardon me.
BEATRICE 125Nor will you not tell me who you are?
BENEDICK Not now.
BEATRICE That I was disdainful, and that I had my
 good wit out of The Hundred Merry Tales! Well, this
 was Signior Benedick that said so.
BENEDICK 130What’s he?
BEATRICE I am sure you know him well enough.
BENEDICK Not I, believe me.
BEATRICE Did he never make you laugh?
BENEDICK I pray you, what is he?
BEATRICE 135Why, he is the Prince’s jester, a very dull
 fool; only his gift is in devising impossible slanders.
 None but libertines delight in him, and the commendation
 is not in his wit but in his villainy, for he
 both pleases men and angers them, and then they
140 laugh at him and beat him. I am sure he is in the
 fleet.I would he had boarded me.
BENEDICK When I know the gentleman, I’ll tell him
 what you say.
BEATRICE Do, do. He’ll but break a comparison or two
145 on me, which peradventure not marked or not
 laughed at strikes him into melancholy, and then
 there’s a partridge wing saved, for the fool will eat
 no supper that night. Music for the dance. We must
 follow the leaders.
BENEDICK 150In every good thing.
BEATRICE Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them
 at the next turning.
Dance. Then exit all except
Don John, Borachio, and Claudio.


47
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ACT 2. SC. 1

DON JOHN, to Borachio Sure my brother is amorous
 on Hero, and hath withdrawn her father to break
155 with him about it. The ladies follow her, and but one
 visor remains.
BORACHIO And that is Claudio. I know him by his
 bearing.
DON JOHN, to Claudio Are not you Signior Benedick?
CLAUDIO 160You know me well. I am he.
DON JOHN Signior, you are very near my brother in his
 love. He is enamored on Hero. I pray you dissuade
 him from her. She is no equal for his birth. You
 may do the part of an honest man in it.
CLAUDIO 165How know you he loves her?
DON JOHN I heard him swear his affection.
BORACHIO So did I too, and he swore he would marry
 her tonight.
DON JOHN Come, let us to the banquet.
They exit. Claudio remains.
CLAUDIO, unmasking 
170 Thus answer I in name of Benedick,
 But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
 ’Tis certain so. The Prince woos for himself.
 Friendship is constant in all other things
 Save in the office and affairs of love.
175 Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues.
 Let every eye negotiate for itself
 And trust no agent, for beauty is a witch
 Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
 This is an accident of hourly proof,
180 Which I mistrusted not. Farewell therefore, Hero.

Enter Benedick.

BENEDICK Count Claudio?
CLAUDIO Yea, the same.
BENEDICK Come, will you go with me?
CLAUDIO Whither?

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ACT 2. SC. 1

BENEDICK 185Even to the next willow, about your own
 business, county. What fashion will you wear the
 garland of? About your neck like an usurer’s chain?
 Or under your arm like a lieutenant’s scarf? You
 must wear it one way, for the Prince hath got your
190 Hero.
CLAUDIO I wish him joy of her.
BENEDICK Why, that’s spoken like an honest drover; so
 they sell bullocks. But did you think the Prince
 would have served you thus?
CLAUDIO 195I pray you, leave me.
BENEDICK Ho, now you strike like the blind man.
 ’Twas the boy that stole your meat, and you’ll beat
 the post.
CLAUDIO If it will not be, I’ll leave you.He exits.
BENEDICK 200Alas, poor hurt fowl, now will he creep into
 sedges. But that my Lady Beatrice should know
 me, and not know me! The Prince’s fool! Ha, it may
 be I go under that title because I am merry. Yea, but
 so I am apt to do myself wrong. I am not so reputed!
205 It is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice
 that puts the world into her person and so gives me
 out. Well, I’ll be revenged as I may.

Enter the Prince, Hero, and Leonato.

PRINCE Now, signior, where’s the Count? Did you see
 him?
BENEDICK 210Troth, my lord, I have played the part of
 Lady Fame. I found him here as melancholy as a
 lodge in a warren. I told him, and I think I told him
 true, that your Grace had got the goodwill of this
 young lady, and I offered him my company to a
215 willow tree, either to make him a garland, as being
 forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being worthy to
 be whipped.
PRINCE To be whipped? What’s his fault?

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ACT 2. SC. 1

BENEDICK The flat transgression of a schoolboy who,
220 being overjoyed with finding a bird’s nest, shows it
 his companion, and he steals it.
PRINCE Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The
 transgression is in the stealer.
BENEDICK Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been
225 made, and the garland too, for the garland he
 might have worn himself, and the rod he might
 have bestowed on you, who, as I take it, have stolen
 his bird’s nest.
PRINCE I will but teach them to sing and restore them
230 to the owner.
BENEDICK If their singing answer your saying, by my
 faith, you say honestly.
PRINCE The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you. The
 gentleman that danced with her told her she is
235 much wronged by you.
BENEDICK O, she misused me past the endurance of a
 block! An oak but with one green leaf on it would
 have answered her. My very visor began to assume
 life and scold with her. She told me, not thinking I
240 had been myself, that I was the Prince’s jester, that I
 was duller than a great thaw, huddling jest upon jest
 with such impossible conveyance upon me that I
 stood like a man at a mark with a whole army
 shooting at me. She speaks poniards, and every
245 word stabs. If her breath were as terrible as her
 terminations, there were no living near her; she
 would infect to the North Star. I would not marry
 her though she were endowed with all that Adam
 had left him before he transgressed. She would have
250 made Hercules have turned spit, yea, and have cleft
 his club to make the fire, too. Come, talk not of her.
 You shall find her the infernal Ate in good apparel. I
 would to God some scholar would conjure her, for
 certainly, while she is here, a man may live as quiet

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ACT 2. SC. 1

255 in hell as in a sanctuary, and people sin upon
 purpose because they would go thither. So indeed
 all disquiet, horror, and perturbation follows her.

Enter Claudio and Beatrice.

PRINCE Look, here she comes.
BENEDICK Will your Grace command me any service
260 to the world’s end? I will go on the slightest errand
 now to the Antipodes that you can devise to send
 me on. I will fetch you a toothpicker now from the
 furthest inch of Asia, bring you the length of Prester
 John’s foot, fetch you a hair off the great Cham’s
265 beard, do you any embassage to the Pygmies, rather
 than hold three words’ conference with this harpy.
 You have no employment for me?
PRINCE None but to desire your good company.
BENEDICK O God, sir, here’s a dish I love not! I cannot
270 endure my Lady Tongue.He exits.
PRINCE, to Beatrice Come, lady, come, you have lost
 the heart of Signior Benedick.
BEATRICE Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile, and I
 gave him use for it, a double heart for his single
275 one. Marry, once before he won it of me with false
 dice. Therefore your Grace may well say I have lost
 it.
PRINCE You have put him down, lady, you have put
 him down.
BEATRICE 280So I would not he should do me, my lord,
 lest I should prove the mother of fools. I have
 brought Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.
PRINCE Why, how now, count, wherefore are you sad?
CLAUDIO Not sad, my lord.
PRINCE 285How then, sick?
CLAUDIO Neither, my lord.
BEATRICE The Count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry,

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ACT 2. SC. 1

 nor well, but civil count, civil as an orange, and
 something of that jealous complexion.
PRINCE 290I’ faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true,
 though I’ll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is
 false.—Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name,
 and fair Hero is won. I have broke with her father
 and his goodwill obtained. Name the day of marriage,
295 and God give thee joy.
LEONATO Count, take of me my daughter, and with her
 my fortunes. His Grace hath made the match, and
 all grace say “Amen” to it.
BEATRICE Speak, count, ’tis your cue.
CLAUDIO 300Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were
 but little happy if I could say how much.—Lady, as
 you are mine, I am yours. I give away myself for you
 and dote upon the exchange.
BEATRICE Speak, cousin, or, if you cannot, stop his
305 mouth with a kiss and let not him speak neither.
PRINCE In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.
BEATRICE Yea, my lord. I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on
 the windy side of care. My cousin tells him in his ear
 that he is in her heart.
CLAUDIO 310And so she doth, cousin.
BEATRICE Good Lord for alliance! Thus goes everyone
 to the world but I, and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a
 corner and cry “Heigh-ho for a husband!”
PRINCE Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
BEATRICE 315I would rather have one of your father’s
 getting. Hath your Grace ne’er a brother like you?
 Your father got excellent husbands, if a maid could
 come by them.
PRINCE Will you have me, lady?
BEATRICE 320No, my lord, unless I might have another for
 working days. Your Grace is too costly to wear
 every day. But I beseech your Grace pardon me. I
 was born to speak all mirth and no matter.

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ACT 2. SC. 1

PRINCE Your silence most offends me, and to be merry
325 best becomes you, for out o’ question you were
 born in a merry hour.
BEATRICE No, sure, my lord, my mother cried, but then
 there was a star danced, and under that was I
 born.—Cousins, God give you joy!
LEONATO 330Niece, will you look to those things I told
 you of?
BEATRICE I cry you mercy, uncle.—By your Grace’s
 pardon.Beatrice exits.
PRINCE By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.
LEONATO 335There’s little of the melancholy element in
 her, my lord. She is never sad but when she sleeps,
 and not ever sad then, for I have heard my daughter
 say she hath often dreamt of unhappiness and
 waked herself with laughing.
PRINCE 340She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.
LEONATO O, by no means. She mocks all her wooers
 out of suit.
PRINCE She were an excellent wife for Benedick.
LEONATO O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week
345 married, they would talk themselves mad.
PRINCE County Claudio, when mean you to go to
 church?
CLAUDIO Tomorrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches
 till love have all his rites.
LEONATO 350Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence
 a just sevennight, and a time too brief, too, to have
 all things answer my mind.
PRINCE, to Claudio Come, you shake the head at so
 long a breathing, but I warrant thee, Claudio, the
355 time shall not go dully by us. I will in the interim
 undertake one of Hercules’ labors, which is to bring
 Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a
 mountain of affection, th’ one with th’ other. I
 would fain have it a match, and I doubt not but to

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ACT 2. SC. 2

360 fashion it, if you three will but minister such
 assistance as I shall give you direction.
LEONATO My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten
 nights’ watchings.
CLAUDIO And I, my lord.
PRINCE 365And you too, gentle Hero?
HERO I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my
 cousin to a good husband.
PRINCE And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband
 that I know. Thus far can I praise him: he is of
370 a noble strain, of approved valor, and confirmed
 honesty. I will teach you how to humor your
 cousin that she shall fall in love with Benedick.—
 And I, with your two helps, will so practice on
 Benedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his
375 queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice.
 If we can do this, Cupid is no longer an archer; his
 glory shall be ours, for we are the only love gods. Go
 in with me, and I will tell you my drift.
They exit.