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Much Ado About Nothing
Act 4, 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 Prince, John the Bastard, Leonato, Friar,
Claudio, Benedick, Hero, and Beatrice, with
Attendants.


LEONATO Come, Friar Francis, be brief, only to the
 plain form of marriage, and you shall recount their
 particular duties afterwards.
FRIAR, to Claudio You come hither, my lord, to marry
5 this lady?
CLAUDIO No.
LEONATO To be married to her.—Friar, you come to
 marry her.
FRIAR Lady, you come hither to be married to this
10 count?
HERO I do.
FRIAR If either of you know any inward impediment
 why you should not be conjoined, I charge you on
 your souls to utter it.
CLAUDIO 15Know you any, Hero?
HERO None, my lord.
FRIAR Know you any, count?
LEONATO I dare make his answer, none.
CLAUDIO O, what men dare do! What men may do!
20 What men daily do, not knowing what they do!
BENEDICK How now, interjections? Why, then, some
 be of laughing, as ah, ha, he!
123

125
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ACT 4. SC. 1

CLAUDIO 
 Stand thee by, friar.—Father, by your leave,
 Will you with free and unconstrainèd soul
25 Give me this maid, your daughter?
LEONATO 
 As freely, son, as God did give her me.
CLAUDIO 
 And what have I to give you back whose worth
 May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
PRINCE 
 Nothing, unless you render her again.
CLAUDIO 
30 Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.—
 There, Leonato, take her back again.
 Give not this rotten orange to your friend.
 She’s but the sign and semblance of her honor.
 Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
35 O, what authority and show of truth
 Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
 Comes not that blood as modest evidence
 To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
 All you that see her, that she were a maid,
40 By these exterior shows? But she is none.
 She knows the heat of a luxurious bed.
 Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.
LEONATO 
 What do you mean, my lord?
CLAUDIO  Not to be married,
45 Not to knit my soul to an approvèd wanton.
LEONATO 
 Dear my lord, if you in your own proof
 Have vanquished the resistance of her youth,
 And made defeat of her virginity—
CLAUDIO 
 I know what you would say: if I have known her,
50 You will say she did embrace me as a husband,

127
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ACT 4. SC. 1

 And so extenuate the forehand sin.
 No, Leonato,
 I never tempted her with word too large,
 But, as a brother to his sister, showed
55 Bashful sincerity and comely love.
HERO 
 And seemed I ever otherwise to you?
CLAUDIO 
 Out on thee, seeming! I will write against it.
 You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
 As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown.
60 But you are more intemperate in your blood
 Than Venus, or those pampered animals
 That rage in savage sensuality.
HERO 
 Is my lord well that he doth speak so wide?
LEONATO 
 Sweet prince, why speak not you?
PRINCE 65 What should I
 speak?
 I stand dishonored that have gone about
 To link my dear friend to a common stale.
LEONATO 
 Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?
DON JOHN 
70 Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.
BENEDICK This looks not like a nuptial.
HERO True! O God!
CLAUDIO Leonato, stand I here?
 Is this the Prince? Is this the Prince’s brother?
75 Is this face Hero’s? Are our eyes our own?
LEONATO 
 All this is so, but what of this, my lord?
CLAUDIO 
 Let me but move one question to your daughter,

129
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ACT 4. SC. 1

 And by that fatherly and kindly power
 That you have in her, bid her answer truly.
LEONATO 
80 I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.
HERO 
 O, God defend me, how am I beset!—
 What kind of catechizing call you this?
CLAUDIO 
 To make you answer truly to your name.
HERO 
 Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
85 With any just reproach?
CLAUDIO  Marry, that can Hero!
 Hero itself can blot out Hero’s virtue.
 What man was he talked with you yesternight
 Out at your window betwixt twelve and one?
90 Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.
HERO 
 I talked with no man at that hour, my lord.
PRINCE 
 Why, then, are you no maiden.—Leonato,
 I am sorry you must hear. Upon mine honor,
 Myself, my brother, and this grievèd count
95 Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night
 Talk with a ruffian at her chamber window,
 Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
 Confessed the vile encounters they have had
 A thousand times in secret.
DON JOHN 
100 Fie, fie, they are not to be named, my lord,
 Not to be spoke of!
 There is not chastity enough in language,
 Without offense, to utter them.—Thus, pretty lady,
 I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.
CLAUDIO 
105 O Hero, what a Hero hadst thou been

131
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ACT 4. SC. 1

 If half thy outward graces had been placed
 About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!
 But fare thee well, most foul, most fair. Farewell,
 Thou pure impiety and impious purity.
110 For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love
 And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,
 To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
 And never shall it more be gracious.
LEONATO 
 Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me?
Hero falls.
BEATRICE 
115 Why, how now, cousin, wherefore sink you down?
DON JOHN 
 Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
 Smother her spirits up.
Claudio, Prince, and Don John exit.
BENEDICK 
 How doth the lady?
BEATRICE  Dead, I think.—Help, uncle!—
120 Hero, why Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!
LEONATO 
 O Fate, take not away thy heavy hand!
 Death is the fairest cover for her shame
 That may be wished for.
BEATRICE How now, cousin Hero?Hero stirs.
FRIAR, to Hero 125Have comfort, lady.
LEONATO, to Hero 
 Dost thou look up?
FRIAR  Yea, wherefore should she not?
LEONATO 
 Wherefore? Why, doth not every earthly thing
 Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
130 The story that is printed in her blood?—
 Do not live, Hero, do not ope thine eyes,
 For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,

133
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ACT 4. SC. 1

 Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
 Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
135 Strike at thy life. Grieved I I had but one?
 Chid I for that at frugal Nature’s frame?
 O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
 Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
 Why had I not with charitable hand
140 Took up a beggar’s issue at my gates,
 Who, smirchèd thus, and mired with infamy,
 I might have said “No part of it is mine;
 This shame derives itself from unknown loins”?
 But mine, and mine I loved, and mine I praised,
145 And mine that I was proud on, mine so much
 That I myself was to myself not mine,
 Valuing of her—why she, O she, is fall’n
 Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
 Hath drops too few to wash her clean again,
150 And salt too little which may season give
 To her foul tainted flesh!
BENEDICK  Sir, sir, be patient.
 For my part, I am so attired in wonder
 I know not what to say.
BEATRICE 
155 O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
BENEDICK 
 Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
BEATRICE 
 No, truly not, although until last night
 I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
LEONATO 
 Confirmed, confirmed! O, that is stronger made
160 Which was before barred up with ribs of iron!
 Would the two princes lie and Claudio lie,
 Who loved her so that, speaking of her foulness,
 Washed it with tears? Hence from her. Let her die!
FRIAR Hear me a little,

135
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ACT 4. SC. 1

165 For I have only silent been so long,
 And given way unto this course of fortune,
 By noting of the lady. I have marked
 A thousand blushing apparitions
 To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames
170 In angel whiteness beat away those blushes,
 And in her eye there hath appeared a fire
 To burn the errors that these princes hold
 Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool,
 Trust not my reading nor my observations,
175 Which with experimental seal doth warrant
 The tenor of my book; trust not my age,
 My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
 If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
 Under some biting error.
LEONATO 180 Friar, it cannot be.
 Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left
 Is that she will not add to her damnation
 A sin of perjury. She not denies it.
 Why seek’st thou then to cover with excuse
185 That which appears in proper nakedness?
FRIAR 
 Lady, what man is he you are accused of?
HERO 
 They know that do accuse me. I know none.
 If I know more of any man alive
 Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
190 Let all my sins lack mercy!—O my father,
 Prove you that any man with me conversed
 At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
 Maintained the change of words with any creature,
 Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death!
FRIAR 
195 There is some strange misprision in the princes.
BENEDICK 
 Two of them have the very bent of honor,

137
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ACT 4. SC. 1

 And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
 The practice of it lives in John the Bastard,
 Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.
LEONATO 
200 I know not. If they speak but truth of her,
 These hands shall tear her. If they wrong her honor,
 The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
 Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
 Nor age so eat up my invention,
205 Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
 Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
 But they shall find, awaked in such a kind,
 Both strength of limb and policy of mind,
 Ability in means and choice of friends,
210 To quit me of them throughly.
FRIAR  Pause awhile,
 And let my counsel sway you in this case.
 Your daughter here the princes left for dead.
 Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
215 And publish it that she is dead indeed.
 Maintain a mourning ostentation,
 And on your family’s old monument
 Hang mournful epitaphs and do all rites
 That appertain unto a burial.
LEONATO 
220 What shall become of this? What will this do?
FRIAR 
 Marry, this well carried shall on her behalf
 Change slander to remorse. That is some good.
 But not for that dream I on this strange course,
 But on this travail look for greater birth.
225 She, dying, as it must be so maintained,
 Upon the instant that she was accused,
 Shall be lamented, pitied, and excused
 Of every hearer. For it so falls out
 That what we have we prize not to the worth

139
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ACT 4. SC. 1

230 Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,
 Why then we rack the value, then we find
 The virtue that possession would not show us
 Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio.
 When he shall hear she died upon his words,
235 Th’ idea of her life shall sweetly creep
 Into his study of imagination,
 And every lovely organ of her life
 Shall come appareled in more precious habit,
 More moving, delicate, and full of life,
240 Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
 Than when she lived indeed. Then shall he mourn,
 If ever love had interest in his liver,
 And wish he had not so accused her,
 No, though he thought his accusation true.
245 Let this be so, and doubt not but success
 Will fashion the event in better shape
 Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
 But if all aim but this be leveled false,
 The supposition of the lady’s death
250 Will quench the wonder of her infamy.
 And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,
 As best befits her wounded reputation,
 In some reclusive and religious life,
 Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.
BENEDICK 
255 Signior Leonato, let the Friar advise you.
 And though you know my inwardness and love
 Is very much unto the Prince and Claudio,
 Yet, by mine honor, I will deal in this
 As secretly and justly as your soul
260 Should with your body.
LEONATO  Being that I flow in grief,
 The smallest twine may lead me.
FRIAR 
 ’Tis well consented. Presently away,

141
Much Ado About Nothing
ACT 4. SC. 1

  For to strange sores strangely they strain the
265  cure.—
 Come, lady, die to live. This wedding day
  Perhaps is but prolonged. Have patience and
  endure.
All but Beatrice and Benedick exit.
BENEDICK Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?
BEATRICE 270Yea, and I will weep a while longer.
BENEDICK I will not desire that.
BEATRICE You have no reason. I do it freely.
BENEDICK Surely I do believe your fair cousin is
 wronged.
BEATRICE 275Ah, how much might the man deserve of me
 that would right her!
BENEDICK Is there any way to show such friendship?
BEATRICE A very even way, but no such friend.
BENEDICK May a man do it?
BEATRICE 280It is a man’s office, but not yours.
BENEDICK I do love nothing in the world so well as
 you. Is not that strange?
BEATRICE As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
 possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you,
285 but believe me not, and yet I lie not; I confess
 nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my
 cousin.
BENEDICK By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me!
BEATRICE Do not swear and eat it.
BENEDICK 290I will swear by it that you love me, and I will
 make him eat it that says I love not you.
BEATRICE Will you not eat your word?
BENEDICK With no sauce that can be devised to it. I
 protest I love thee.
BEATRICE 295Why then, God forgive me.
BENEDICK What offense, sweet Beatrice?
BEATRICE You have stayed me in a happy hour. I was
 about to protest I loved you.

143
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ACT 4. SC. 1

BENEDICK And do it with all thy heart.
BEATRICE 300I love you with so much of my heart that
 none is left to protest.
BENEDICK Come, bid me do anything for thee.
BEATRICE Kill Claudio.
BENEDICK Ha! Not for the wide world.
BEATRICE 305You kill me to deny it. Farewell.
She begins to exit.
BENEDICK Tarry, sweet Beatrice.
BEATRICE I am gone, though I am here. There is no
 love in you. Nay, I pray you let me go.
BENEDICK Beatrice—
BEATRICE 310In faith, I will go.
BENEDICK We’ll be friends first.
BEATRICE You dare easier be friends with me than
 fight with mine enemy.
BENEDICK Is Claudio thine enemy?
BEATRICE 315Is he not approved in the height a villain
 that hath slandered, scorned, dishonored my kinswoman?
 O, that I were a man! What, bear her in
 hand until they come to take hands, and then, with
 public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated
320 rancor—O God, that I were a man! I would eat his
 heart in the marketplace.
BENEDICK Hear me, Beatrice—
BEATRICE Talk with a man out at a window! A proper
 saying.
BENEDICK 325Nay, but Beatrice—
BEATRICE Sweet Hero, she is wronged, she is slandered,
 she is undone.
BENEDICK Beat—
BEATRICE Princes and counties! Surely a princely testimony,
330 a goodly count, Count Comfect, a sweet
 gallant, surely! O, that I were a man for his sake! Or
 that I had any friend would be a man for my sake!
 But manhood is melted into curtsies, valor into

145
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ACT 4. SC. 2

 compliment, and men are only turned into tongue,
335 and trim ones, too. He is now as valiant as Hercules
 that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a man
 with wishing; therefore I will die a woman with
 grieving.
BENEDICK Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love
340 thee.
BEATRICE Use it for my love some other way than
 swearing by it.
BENEDICK Think you in your soul the Count Claudio
 hath wronged Hero?
BEATRICE 345Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.
BENEDICK Enough, I am engaged. I will challenge
 him. I will kiss your hand, and so I leave you. By
 this hand, Claudio shall render me a dear account.
 As you hear of me, so think of me. Go comfort your
350 cousin. I must say she is dead, and so farewell.
They exit.