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Much Ado About Nothing
Act 2, scene 3

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Characters in the Play

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 3
Enter Benedick alone.

BENEDICK Boy!

Enter Boy.

BOY Signior?
BENEDICK In my chamber window lies a book. Bring it
 hither to me in the orchard.
BOY 5I am here already, sir.
BENEDICK I know that, but I would have thee hence
 and here again.Boy exits.
 I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much
 another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors
10 to love, will, after he hath laughed at such
 shallow follies in others, become the argument of
 his own scorn by falling in love—and such a man is
 Claudio. I have known when there was no music
 with him but the drum and the fife, and now had he
15 rather hear the tabor and the pipe; I have known
 when he would have walked ten mile afoot to see a
 good armor, and now will he lie ten nights awake
 carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont
 to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest

65
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

20 man and a soldier, and now is he turned orthography;
 his words are a very fantastical banquet, just so
 many strange dishes. May I be so converted and see
 with these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not. I will not
 be sworn but love may transform me to an oyster,
25 but I’ll take my oath on it, till he have made an
 oyster of me, he shall never make me such a fool.
 One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet
 I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all
 graces be in one woman, one woman shall not
30 come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s certain;
 wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen
 her; fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not
 near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good
 discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall
35 be of what color it please God. Ha! The Prince and
 Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbor.
He hides.

Enter Prince, Leonato, Claudio, and Balthasar
with music.


PRINCE Come, shall we hear this music?
CLAUDIO 
 Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,
 As hushed on purpose to grace harmony!
PRINCE, aside to Claudio 
40 See you where Benedick hath hid himself?
CLAUDIO, aside to Prince 
 O, very well my lord. The music ended,
 We’ll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.
PRINCE 
 Come, Balthasar, we’ll hear that song again.
BALTHASAR 
 O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
45 To slander music any more than once.

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ACT 2. SC. 3

PRINCE 
 It is the witness still of excellency
 To put a strange face on his own perfection.
 I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.
BALTHASAR 
 Because you talk of wooing, I will sing,
50 Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
 To her he thinks not worthy, yet he woos,
 Yet will he swear he loves.
PRINCE  Nay, pray thee, come,
 Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
55 Do it in notes.
BALTHASAR  Note this before my notes:
 There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.
PRINCE 
 Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks!
 Note notes, forsooth, and nothing.Music plays.
BENEDICK, aside 60Now, divine air! Now is his soul
 ravished. Is it not strange that sheeps’ guts should
 hale souls out of men’s bodies? Well, a horn for my
 money, when all’s done.
BALTHASAR sings 
 Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
65  Men were deceivers ever,
 One foot in sea and one on shore,
  To one thing constant never.
 Then sigh not so, but let them go,
  And be you blithe and bonny,
70 Converting all your sounds of woe
  Into Hey, nonny nonny.

 Sing no more ditties, sing no mo,
  Of dumps so dull and heavy.
 The fraud of men was ever so,
75  Since summer first was leavy.

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ACT 2. SC. 3

 Then sigh not so, but let them go,
  And be you blithe and bonny,
 Converting all your sounds of woe
  Into Hey, nonny nonny.

PRINCE 80By my troth, a good song.
BALTHASAR And an ill singer, my lord.
PRINCE Ha, no, no, faith, thou sing’st well enough for a
 shift.
BENEDICK, aside An he had been a dog that should
85 have howled thus, they would have hanged him. And
 I pray God his bad voice bode no mischief. I had as
 lief have heard the night raven, come what plague
 could have come after it.
PRINCE Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I pray
90 thee get us some excellent music, for tomorrow
 night we would have it at the Lady Hero’s chamber
 window.
BALTHASAR The best I can, my lord.
PRINCE Do so. Farewell.Balthasar exits.
95 Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of
 today, that your niece Beatrice was in love with
 Signior Benedick?
CLAUDIO O, ay. Aside to Prince. Stalk on, stalk on; the
 fowl sits.—I did never think that lady would have
100 loved any man.
LEONATO No, nor I neither, but most wonderful that
 she should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she
 hath in all outward behaviors seemed ever to
 abhor.
BENEDICK, aside 105Is ’t possible? Sits the wind in that
 corner?
LEONATO By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to
 think of it, but that she loves him with an enraged
 affection, it is past the infinite of thought.
PRINCE 110Maybe she doth but counterfeit.
CLAUDIO Faith, like enough.

71
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

LEONATO O God! Counterfeit? There was never counterfeit
 of passion came so near the life of passion as
 she discovers it.
PRINCE 115Why, what effects of passion shows she?
CLAUDIO, aside to Leonato Bait the hook well; this fish
 will bite.
LEONATO What effects, my lord? She will sit you—you
 heard my daughter tell you how.
CLAUDIO 120She did indeed.
PRINCE How, how I pray you? You amaze me. I would
 have thought her spirit had been invincible against
 all assaults of affection.
LEONATO I would have sworn it had, my lord, especially
125 against Benedick.
BENEDICK, aside I should think this a gull but that the
 white-bearded fellow speaks it. Knavery cannot,
 sure, hide himself in such reverence.
CLAUDIO, aside to Prince He hath ta’en th’ infection.
130 Hold it up.
PRINCE Hath she made her affection known to
 Benedick?
LEONATO No, and swears she never will. That’s her
 torment.
CLAUDIO 135’Tis true indeed, so your daughter says. “Shall
 I,” says she, “that have so oft encountered him with
 scorn, write to him that I love him?”
LEONATO This says she now when she is beginning to
 write to him, for she’ll be up twenty times a night,
140 and there will she sit in her smock till she have writ
 a sheet of paper. My daughter tells us all.
CLAUDIO Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember
 a pretty jest your daughter told us of.
LEONATO O, when she had writ it and was reading it
145 over, she found “Benedick” and “Beatrice” between
 the sheet?
CLAUDIO That.

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Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

LEONATO O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence,
 railed at herself that she should be so
150 immodest to write to one that she knew would flout
 her. “I measure him,” says she, “by my own spirit,
 for I should flout him if he writ to me, yea, though I
 love him, I should.”
CLAUDIO Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps,
155 sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses:
 “O sweet Benedick, God give me patience!”
LEONATO She doth indeed, my daughter says so, and
 the ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my
 daughter is sometimes afeared she will do a desperate
160 outrage to herself. It is very true.
PRINCE It were good that Benedick knew of it by some
 other, if she will not discover it.
CLAUDIO To what end? He would make but a sport of it
 and torment the poor lady worse.
PRINCE 165An he should, it were an alms to hang him.
 She’s an excellent sweet lady, and, out of all suspicion,
 she is virtuous.
CLAUDIO And she is exceeding wise.
PRINCE In everything but in loving Benedick.
LEONATO 170O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in
 so tender a body, we have ten proofs to one that
 blood hath the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have
 just cause, being her uncle and her guardian.
PRINCE I would she had bestowed this dotage on me. I
175 would have daffed all other respects and made her
 half myself. I pray you tell Benedick of it, and hear
 what he will say.
LEONATO Were it good, think you?
CLAUDIO Hero thinks surely she will die, for she says
180 she will die if he love her not, and she will die ere
 she make her love known, and she will die if he woo
 her rather than she will bate one breath of her
 accustomed crossness.

75
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

PRINCE She doth well. If she should make tender of
185 her love, ’tis very possible he’ll scorn it, for the man,
 as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.
CLAUDIO He is a very proper man.
PRINCE He hath indeed a good outward happiness.
CLAUDIO Before God, and in my mind, very wise.
PRINCE 190He doth indeed show some sparks that are like
 wit.
CLAUDIO And I take him to be valiant.
PRINCE As Hector, I assure you, and in the managing
 of quarrels you may say he is wise, for either he
195 avoids them with great discretion or undertakes
 them with a most Christianlike fear.
LEONATO If he do fear God, he must necessarily keep
 peace. If he break the peace, he ought to enter into
 a quarrel with fear and trembling.
PRINCE 200And so will he do, for the man doth fear God,
 howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests
 he will make. Well, I am sorry for your niece. Shall
 we go seek Benedick and tell him of her love?
CLAUDIO Never tell him, my lord, let her wear it out
205 with good counsel.
LEONATO Nay, that’s impossible; she may wear her
 heart out first.
PRINCE Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter.
 Let it cool the while. I love Benedick well, and I
210 could wish he would modestly examine himself to
 see how much he is unworthy so good a lady.
LEONATO My lord, will you walk? Dinner is ready.
Leonato, Prince, and Claudio begin to exit.
CLAUDIO, aside to Prince and Leonato If he do not
 dote on her upon this, I will never trust my
215 expectation.
PRINCE, aside to Leonato Let there be the same net
 spread for her, and that must your daughter and her
 gentlewomen carry. The sport will be when they

77
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

 hold one an opinion of another’s dotage, and no
220 such matter. That’s the scene that I would see,
 which will be merely a dumb show. Let us send her
 to call him in to dinner.
Prince, Leonato, and Claudio exit.
BENEDICK, coming forward This can be no trick. The
 conference was sadly borne; they have the truth of
225 this from Hero; they seem to pity the lady. It seems
 her affections have their full bent. Love me? Why, it
 must be requited! I hear how I am censured. They
 say I will bear myself proudly if I perceive the love
 come from her. They say, too, that she will rather
230 die than give any sign of affection. I did never think
 to marry. I must not seem proud. Happy are they
 that hear their detractions and can put them to
 mending. They say the lady is fair; ’tis a truth, I can
 bear them witness. And virtuous; ’tis so, I cannot
235 reprove it. And wise, but for loving me; by my troth,
 it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of
 her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her! I
 may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of
 wit broken on me because I have railed so long
240 against marriage, but doth not the appetite alter? A
 man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot
 endure in his age. Shall quips and sentences and
 these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the
 career of his humor? No! The world must be peopled.
245 When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not
 think I should live till I were married. Here comes
 Beatrice. By this day, she’s a fair lady. I do spy some
 marks of love in her.

Enter Beatrice.

BEATRICE Against my will, I am sent to bid you come
250 in to dinner.
BENEDICK Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.

79
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 2. SC. 3

BEATRICE I took no more pains for those thanks than
 you take pains to thank me. If it had been painful, I
 would not have come.
BENEDICK 255You take pleasure then in the message?
BEATRICE Yea, just so much as you may take upon a
 knife’s point and choke a daw withal. You have no
 stomach, signior. Fare you well.She exits.
BENEDICK Ha! “Against my will I am sent to bid you
260 come in to dinner.” There’s a double meaning in
 that. “I took no more pains for those thanks than
 you took pains to thank me.” That’s as much as to
 say “Any pains that I take for you is as easy as
 thanks.” If I do not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I
265 do not love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.
He exits.