Summary of the Play
The play is set in and near the house of Leonato, governor of Messina, Sicily. Prince Don Pedro of Aragon with his favorite, Claudio, and Benedick, young cavalier of Padua, as well as Don John, the bastard brother of Don Pedro, come to Leonato's. Claudio instantly falls in love with Hero (her name means chaste), Leonato's only child, whom Don Pedro formally obtains for him. While they wait for the wedding day, they amuse themselves by gulling Benedick and Beatrice (Leonato's niece), verbal adversaries who share a merry wit and a contempt for conventional love, into believing that they are hopelessly in love with each other.
Meanwhile, Don John, an envious and mischief-making malcontent, plots to break the match between Claudio and Hero and employs Conrade and Borachio to assist him. After planting the suspicion in the minds of Claudio and the Prince that Hero is wanton, Don John confirms it by having Borachio talk to Hero's maid, Margaret, at the chamber window at midnight, as if she were Hero. Convinced by this hoax, Claudio and Don Pedro disgrace Hero before the altar at the wedding, rejecting her as unchaste. Shocked by the allegation, which her father readily accepts, Hero swoons away, and the priest, who believes in her innocence, intervenes. At his suggestion, she is secretly sent to her uncle's home and publicly reported dead in order to soften the hearts of her accusers as well as lessen the impact of gossip. Leonato is grief-stricken.
Benedick and Beatrice, their sharp wit blunted by the pain of the slander, honestly confess their love for each other before the same altar. Benedick proves his love by challenging his friend Claudio to a duel to requite the honor of Beatrice's cousin, Hero. Borachio, overheard by the watch as he boasts of his false meeting with Hero to Conrade, is taken into the custody of Constable Dogberry and clears Hero; but Don John has fled. Her innocence confirmed, her father, satisfied with Claudio's penitent demeanor, directs him to hang verses on her tomb that night and marry his niece, sight unseen, the next morning, which Claudio agrees to do in a double wedding with Beatrice and Benedict. He joyfully discovers that the masked lady he has promised to marry is Hero. The play ends with an account of Don John being detained by the local authorities.
Estimated Reading Time
Much Ado about Nothing was written to be performed before an audience, without intermission, in less than three hours. Allow your imagination full sway in a straight-through, first reading to grasp the plot and characters. This should take about three hours. To understand the play's nuances, reread it and take note of the usage of each word glossed at the bottom of the text. This should take about one hour per act. Observe how the syntax assigned to each character reveals their pattern of thought. Give yourself enough time to explore the play. While you enjoy the humor, language, and the composition, chuckle along with Shakespeare at our human vanities.
You can use audiotapes, available at libraries, to follow the text and hear the changing rhythms of verse and prose that this play is famous for. Video taped performances are also available. Study groups may easily read the piece aloud.
Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Don Pedro, prince of Arragon, arrives in Messina accompanied by his bastard brother, Don John, and his two friends, the young Italian noblemen Claudio and Benedick. Don Pedro had vanquished his brother in battle. Now, reconciled, the brothers plan to visit Leonato before returning to their homeland. On their arrival in Messina, young Claudio is immediately smitten by the lovely Hero, daughter of Leonato, the governor of Messina. To help his faithful young friend in his suit, Don Pedro assumes the guise of Claudio at a masked ball and woos Hero in Claudio’s name. Then he gains Leonato’s consent for Claudio and Hero to marry. Don John tries to cause trouble by persuading Claudio that Don Pedro means to betray him and keep Hero for himself, but the villain is foiled in his plot and Claudio remains faithful to Don Pedro.
Benedick, the other young follower of Don Pedro, is a confirmed and bitter bachelor who scorns all men willing to enter the married state. No less opposed to men and matrimony is Leonato’s niece, Beatrice. These two constantly spar with one another, each trying to show intellectual supremacy over the other. Don Pedro, with the help of Hero, Claudio, and Leonato, undertakes the seemingly impossible task of bringing Benedick and Beatrice together in matrimony in the seven days before the marriage of Hero and Claudio.
Don John, thwarted in his first attempt to cause disharmony, forms another plot. With the help of a servant, he...
(The entire section is 975 words.)
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Summary and Analysis
Preface to the Summary
Preface to the Summary:
Trying to follow the multiple, interwoven narrative lines of Much Ado About Nothing from this summary (or even the written text itself), may prove frustrating. To simplify matters, it is useful to observe that three distinct plots or schemes unfold within the play. For the sake of convenience, we can speak of "plot A" ("A" standing, perhaps, for "abbreviated"), "plot B" ("B" for "Beatrice and Benedick"), and "plot C" ("C" for "central"). In plot A, having learned that his good brother, Don Pedro, intends to court Hero at a masked ball on behalf of his young lieutenant, Claudio, the villain of the play, Don John schemes to convince Claudio that Don Pedro actually intends to have Hero for himself. This half-baked plot is abbreviated or aborted in Act II, coming to naught when all of the good characters agree on Claudio's proposal of marriage to Hero. Plot B develops immediately thereafter as the good characters in the play (including Don Pedro, Claudio, and Hero) form a benign conspiracy meant to bring Beatrice and Benedick to the marriage altar. This plan ultimately succeeds. Concurrently, the malcontent Don John and his principal henchman, Borachio, launch Plot C. They stage a romantic meeting between Borachio and Hero's serving-woman, Margaret, who play the parts of an unknown lover and Hero, to demonstrate Hero's infidelity to Claudio and Don Pedro. This leads to a very bad scene at the wedding chapel as...
(The entire section is 465 words.)
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Act I, Scene 1 Summary and Analysis
New Characters: Leonato: governor of Messina and father of Hero, a man of manners and hospitality, whose conventionality will be tested by the depth of his grief
Hero: Leonato's only child, a docile and conventional young woman, honored for her chastity
Beatrice: Leonato's spirited niece, gifted with a brilliant wit and interested in Benedick
Messenger: brings news of Prince Don Pedro's victory and approach to Messina
Don Pedro: prince of Aragon, who victoriously return from battle against his illegitimate brother for his throne; Leonato's guest during his stay in Messina and enjoys matchmaking
Claudio: young count, Don Pedro's courageous right-hand man, who seeks the hand of Hero; a man who relies on his outer senses, will be duped by Don John into shaming Hero
Benedick: quick-witted and spirited young count who, though an avowed misogynist, is attracted to Beatrice
Balthasar: musician, an attendant on Don Pedro
Don John: Don Pedro's malcontented , illegitimate brother who resents Don Pedro and Claudio and will do anything to cross them Much Ado About Nothing
The scene takes place before Leonato's house. The messenger informs Leonato that victorious Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, will arrive shortly with his favorite, Lord Claudio of Florence, who performed courageously in battle. Beatrice asks about Lord Benedick...
(The entire section is 832 words.)
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Act I, Scene 2 Summary and Analysis
New Character: Antonio: Leonato's brother
In Leonato's house, Antonio advises his brother that his servant overheard the prince, Don Pedro, tell Claudio that he loved Hero and that he would reveal this to her at the dance to be held at Leonato's house that night. And, if she found him suitable, he would request her hand from Leonato. Leonato asks Antonio to convey this information to Hero, so she can also prepare her answer should the report he has just heard be true.
Noting which can mean observing, overhearing, and musical notation) is an obvious pun in the title (Elizabethans pronounced nothing/noting alike) and is central to the major theme of this play: appearance versus reality. This theme is continued by having the conversation between Claudio and Don Pedro overheard by a servant, who repeats it to his master, Antonio, who repeats it to his brother, Leonato, who advises him to repeat it to his daughter, Hero, so she, a commoner, can prepare her response to the prince. This brief scene, written in prose, advises us of the speed with which news travels in Messina and complicates the plot with misinformation based on the servant's partial eavesdropping. Hearsay leads to a number of partings between the characters in this play. The word ado in the title may also be a pun on the French word for farewell, adieu, so common in usage that we find it in the dialogue...
(The entire section is 253 words.)
Act I, Scene 3 Summary and Analysis
New Characters: Conrade: Don John's companion, who assumes the position of advisor
Borachio: Don John's companion, recently employed by Leonato, who will play a major role in the slander of Hero
We are still at Leonato's house. Conrade greets Don John, only to find him in a foul mood. When he attempts to reason Don John out of his misery; Don John takes a perverse and self-willed stance. Conrade advises Don John that he needs to bide his time, reminding him that he is too recently taken back in Don Pedro's good graces, after having confronted him in battle, before resuming his mischief. Don John insists on following his own course, stating that his plain-dealing villainy is more virtuous than flattery and reveals his bitterness at any expectation of humility on his part. As Conrade suggests that he make use of his discontent, Borachio enters to inform Don John that his brother is being entertained by Leonato and that, while employed at Leonato's, he overheard the prince tell Claudio that he will woo Hero for himself, then give her to him. Envious of Claudio's standing as the prince's right-hand man, Don John engages Conrade and Borachio to help him to destroy the count, and goes to the party.
The counterplot to the Hero-Claudio plot is introduced through the mean-spirited character of Don John, illegitimate heir to Prince Don Pedro's throne, revealed...
(The entire section is 381 words.)
Act II, Scene 1 Summary and Analysis
New Characters: Margaret and Ursula: waiting gentlewomen to Hero
While Leonato's household awaits the arrival of the maskers, Beatrice tells us that no man is her match and she advises Hero on how to answer the prince when he seeks her hand. The maskers arrive and we are treated to a variety of deceits as they dance. Don Pedro, pretending to be Claudio, takes Hero aside. Beatrice, pretending that she does not know that she is speaking with Benedick, uses the opportunity to call him a fool. All exit except Don John, Borachio, and Claudio.
Don John and Borachio purposefully mistake Claudio for Benedick and tell him that Don Pedro is in love with Hero and swore he would marry her that night. Claudio, believing their deception, is joined by Benedick who teases him about losing Hero. Claudio leaves and Benedick reflects on his conversation with Beatrice.
Don Pedro, Hero, and Leonato return. Don Pedro assures Benedick that his wooing was on Claudio's behalf. When Claudio and Beatrice return, Benedick exits to avoid Beatrice. Don Pedro announces that he has won Hero for Claudio, and Leonato concurs. When Beatrice leaves, Don Pedro observes that Beatrice would be an excellent wife for Benedick, and enlists Leonato, Claudio, and Hero to aid him in making a match.
The masquerade ball, fashionable in Tudor England, and the guessing game it engenders,...
(The entire section is 593 words.)
Act II, Scene 2 Summary and Analysis
Borachio tells Don John that he can cross the marriage of Claudio and Hero. Don John jumps at the opportunity. Borachio lays out his plan to have Margaret, Hero's waiting-gentlewoman, look out her mistress' window the night before the wedding and be mistaken for Hero, while he, Borachio, woos her. He directs Don John to tell Don Pedro that he has dishonored himself by arranging a marriage between Claudio and a common trollop, and then offer him proof of Hero's disloyalty by bringing him to witness the staged deceit. Don John accepts the plan and offers Borachio a fee of a thousand ducats.
Borachio, recently employed as a perfumer at Leonato's, is the directive force of this prose scene. Don John, disappointed that his ploy to break the friendship between Don Pedro and Claudio failed, willingly accepts Borachio's plan and direction to destroy the planned marriage of Claudio and Hero, which moves the counterplot forward and prepares the audience for the crisis to come.
The plan hinges on Don John's ability to persuade Don Pedro that he has dishonored himself, and the coldness of Don John assures us that he will have no second thoughts about implementing this action. His offer of a large fee to Borachio ensures that Borachio will play his part well. Shakespeare emphasizes the sourness of this scene's note by placing it between two musical scenes. At this point the first movement of...
(The entire section is 263 words.)
Act II, Scene 3 Summary and Analysis
New Character: Boy: sent by Benedick to fetch a book
The scene takes place in Leonato's garden. Benedick reflects on love and marriage. He hides himself in the arbor when Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio enter. Pretending not to note his presence, they listen as Balthasar sings a song about the deceptions of men. Then they speak of Beatrice's love for Benedick, which they claim they learned from Hero. Benedick does not believe it to be a gull because Leonato is involved. They detail the depth of Beatrice's passion and frustration, fearful that she will harm herself because of it, then list her virtues. They agree that Benedick is too scornful to be told of the matter and exit. Reflecting on what he has just heard, Benedict acknowledges to himself his love for Beatrice. Beatrice, sent by Don Pedro to call Benedick to dinner, is perceived by Benedick in a new light as he looks for evidence of her affection for him.
The second movement of action, which propels this play into high comedy, begins now and continues through the first scene of Act IV. Highly theatrical, this is Benedick's chief scene in the play, the one his lines have been building toward and the one on which the validity of the rest of his actions depend. The phrasing of the soliloquies, well-written for stage delivery and the actor's memory, require a balanced performance with inventive stage business...
(The entire section is 793 words.)
Act III, Scene 1 Summary and Analysis
The scene takes place in the garden. Hero sets the trap for Beatrice by sending Margaret to tell Beatrice that she is the subject of Hero and Ursula's gossip. Beatrice appears instantly and follows them, hidden among the honeysuckle, to eavesdrop. Hero and Ursula speak of Benedick's unrequited love for Beatrice and Beatrice's disdainful scorn for Benedick. They speak of Benedick's virtues and Beatrice's faults, concluding that Beatrice is too self-endeared to be told of the matter. Hero, feigning exasperation, tells Ursula that she will devise some honest slander to poison Benedick's love for Beatrice and thereby save him from wasting away with love. Alone, reflecting on what she has just heard, Beatrice surrenders contempt and maiden pride, determined to accept Benedick's love.
A day has passed since the gulling of Benedick. This charming parallel scene is written wholly in verse, most of which is endstopped, and terminates with a 10-line stanza composed of quatrains and a couplet. We find the usually loquacious Beatrice quietly listening, and you can be sure that any skilled actress will find a variety of attitudes to express in this silence. Surprisingly, quiet and docile Hero mischievously leads the gull. Beatrice's soliloquy shows her lyric response to their conversation (107-16); it is short and to the point:
What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true? Stand I condemned for...
(The entire section is 386 words.)
Act III, Scene 2 Summary and Analysis
It is the night before the wedding. Don Pedro announces he will depart for Aragon right after the nuptials. He refuses Claudio's offer to accompany him. Don Pedro and Claudio observe a change in Benedick, including a shaved face and pristine habits of personal hygiene, and tease him about it. Benedick, unusually sober in demeanor, protests that he has a toothache. He invites Leonato to walk with him in order to enter into a short but private conversation. Don John enters. He tells Don Pedro and Claudio that Hero is disloyal and invites them to go with him to witness her chamber window entered that night at midnight. Claudio vows to shame Hero before the congregation if he witnesses such disloyalty that evening and Don Pedro vows to join him in disgracing Hero.
Although this prose scene opens in a relaxed manner, the pacing of the play is speeding up to propel us toward the crisis in Act IV. Claudio's prompt offer to leave with the prince, rather than stay for his honeymoon, indicates that he loves Hero as an image to be possessed rather than as a person to be explored. This does not surprise us since he kept his interest in her on the back burner until the war was over. We see a new and reflective Benedick, unwilling to play court jester and no longer completing Claudio and Don John's lines with witty rejoinders, hidden behind the excuse of a toothache. His memorable line from this scene is...
(The entire section is 642 words.)
Act III, Scene 3 Summary and Analysis
New Characters: Dogberry: illiterate master constable, whose love of high--faluting words is only matched by his misuse of them, he exposes the slanderous deception, thereby saving Hero
Verges: headborough, or parish constable, Dogberry's elderly companion
First Watchman and Second Watchman (George Seacoal):
Dogberry's assistant, who providentially overhear Borachio describe the details of the deception perpetrated upon Hero
The scene takes place at night, on the street, to the side of the door of Leonato's house. Master Constable Dogberry, bearing a lantern, and his elder compartner, Verges, arrive with the watch. Dogberry gives them their charge, specifically instructing them to watch about Leonato's door because of the preparations for the marriage. Borachio staggers forth from Leonato's, followed by Conrade, into the drizzling rain. The watch overhear Borachio, his tongue liquor-loose, boast that he earned a thousand ducats for his villainy from Don John. Borachio then discourses upon fashion, calling it a deformed thief. Then he details how he wooed Margaret, by the name of Hero, while being observed by Don John, Don Pedro, and Claudio from the orchard and how, believing the deceit, Claudio vowed to shame Hero at the wedding before the congregation the next day. The watch immediately takes them into custody.
(The entire section is 1035 words.)
Act III, Scene 4 Summary and Analysis
The scene is set in the sitting room adjacent to Hero's bedchamber. Hero sends Ursula to wake up Beatrice and tell her to come to the sitting room. Hero and Margaret discuss what she will wear. Beatrice arrives, sick, and tells Hero it is time to dress for the wedding. Margaret teasingly suggests to Beatrice that she take the herb, carduus benedictus, for her malady. Ursula returns to announce that the wedding party is ready to escort Hero to the church. The women hasten to the bed-chamber to dress her.
This innocent prose scene, on the morning before the wedding, softens us to empathize with Hero. Margaret does not want Hero to wear a certain rebato, possibly the one she wore in the staged deceit the night before, but Hero lets us know she has a mind of her own by insisting on it, dismissing both Margaret and Beatrice as fools, and Margaret scandalizes Hero with her bawdy humor. This scene refreshes the fashion imagery and theme of outer appearance.
Beatrice's illness explains why she slept separately from Hero the night before; it also affords the ladies the opportunity to tease her about her new-found love. Margaret, fancying herself as good a wit as Beatrice, gets in a pointed stab when she advises Beatrice, "Get you some of this distilled carduus benedictus and lay it to your heart. It is the only thing for a qualm." And Hero quips, "There thou prick'st her with a thistle."...
(The entire section is 268 words.)
Act III, Scene 5 Summary and Analysis
New Character: Messenger: calls Leonato to the wedding.
The scene takes place in the hail in Leonato's house. Dogberry and Verges visit Leonato just as he is about to leave for the wedding. They chatter, trying Leonato's patience. Finally they tell him that they apprehended two suspicious characters who they want to have examined that morning before him. Leonato instructs them to take the examination and bring it to him. Leonato leaves to give Hero in marriage. Dogberry instructs Verges to send for Francis Seacoal, the sexton, to write down the examination which they will take at the jail.
Shakespeare provides us with the most suspenseful moment of the play when Dogberry's tediousness and Leonato's impatience collide to prevent the disclosure of Don John's villainy before the wedding. Whatever the matter is, Leonato simply doesn't want to hear it. Ironically, he can't possibly imagine that anything these patronizing and tangential commoners could say would be of any interest to him. The dialogue is painfully funny:
Act III 65 Leonato: Neighbors, you are tedious.
Dogberry: It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor Duke's officers; but truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find in my heart to bestow it all of your worship.
Leonato: All thy tediousness on me, ah? Dogberry: Yea, an 'twere a...
(The entire section is 366 words.)
Act IV Scene 1 Summary and Analysis
Friar Francis: priest at the nuptials of Claudio and Hero, who devises a plan to change the hearts of Claudio and Don Pedro and reverse the effects of the slander
Attendants: the bridal party
This scene takes place before the altar in the church. Claudio contemptuously rejects Hero as a proved wanton. Leonato assumes that Claudio took Hero's virginity, which Claudio denies. Leonato appeals to the prince but Don Pedro, echoed by his brother, Don John, confirms Claudio's accusation. Claudio interrogates Hero about the man he saw at her window the night before. Hero denies the encounter. Claudio vows to love no more. Leonato seeks to be killed. Hero swoons. Don John, Don Pedro, and Claudio storm out of the church. Leonato, unable to believe that the two princes and Claudio could lie, accepts the slander as true and declares that if Hero is not dead he will kill her himself, disowning her. After Friar Francis recognizes her innocence and Benedick intuits that Don Pedro and Claudio have been misled by Don John, the good father directs Leonato to hide Hero away, to announce that she died upon being accused and to hold public mourning for her to change slander to remorse and to soften the heart of Claudio.
Beatrice and Benedick, suddenly alone before the altar, confess their love for one another. Benedick bids her to ask him to do anything for her. Beatrice answers with...
(The entire section is 1366 words.)
Act IV, Scene 2 Summary and Analysis
Sexton (Francis Seacoal): town clerk, a learned writer who, taking down the examination of Borachio and Conrade, recognizes the importance of its contents and immediately delivers it to Leonato
This scene takes place at the jail. Dogberry, under the direction of the sexton, examines Borachio and Conrade. Speaking directly into Borachio's ear, Dogberry accuses him and Conrade of false knavery, which Borachio denies. The first watch and Seacoal testify that they heard Borachio confess to receiving a thousand ducats from Don John for slandering Hero. The sexton announces that Don John fled after Hero was accused and refused and that Hero, upon the grief of this, suddenly died. He directs the constable to bind the men and bring them to Leonato's and leaves immediately to show the examination to the governor. About to be bound, Conrade calls Dogberry an ass. Scandalized, Dogberry wants all to remember that he is an ass, although it will not be written down.
It is part of Shakespeare's genius to let the action of this play begin its fall with a new comic vision. Considered one of "the funniest scenes ever written" (Joseph Papp), this is where the final block of the play's action, which will resolve the polarized plots, begins.
Dogberry's opening line is, "Is our whole dissembly appeared?" We can imagine that he wears his very best...
(The entire section is 555 words.)
Act V, Scene 1 Summary and Analysis
The scene takes place in the street before the house of Leonato. Antonio tries to philosophize his brother, Leonato, out of his grief. Leonato says that his passion cannot be patched with proverbs and bids him to cease his counsel. Antonio advises him to make those who have harmed him suffer also, and Leonato vows to defend Hero's honor. At this point Claudio and Don Pedro cross their path. Both Leonato and Antonio challenge Claudio for the villainy of slandering Hero to death. Don Pedro tells them the charge against Hero was full of proof and refuses to listen further. Vowing that he will be heard, Leonato exits with his brother just as Benedick arrives.
Claudio and Don Pedro seek Benedick's wit to lift their spirits. Benedick challenges Claudio. Taking it as a jest, both Claudio and Don Pedro seek to enjoy their usual banter. Benedick tells Don Pedro that he must discontinue his company and repeats his challenge to Claudio. He informs them that Don John has fled Messina and that they killed an innocent lady. As Benedick exits, they realize that he is earnest. Don Pedro, in growing awareness, notes that his brother has fled.
The constables and the watch enter with Borachio and Conrade. Don Pedro recognizes them as his brother's men and asks Dogberry the nature of their offense. Finding Dogberry's answer too oblique to be understood, he questions Borachio. Borachio asks Don Pedro to let Count Claudio kill him and...
(The entire section is 1545 words.)
Act V, Scene 2 Summary and Analysis
Benedick and Margaret meet outside Leonato's house. He bids her to call Beatrice to him and unsuccessfully attempts a sonnet. Beatrice complies with his request immediately. When Benedick toyfully marks (notes) that she comes when bidden, she bids him to tell her what has passed between he and Claudio. Benedick reports that Claudio undergoes his challenge. A witty interchange ensues as each seeks the other to tell the virtues for which they are loved and concludes with Benedick's declaration that they are "too wise to woo peaceably." Ursula appears to call them to Leonato's, with the news that Hero has been cleared, Don Pedro and Claudio were absolved, and Don John declared the villain.
The double entendres between Benedick and Margaret that open this short prose scene serve to entertain us. This charming scene is technically important as part of the falling action of the play and prepares us for its solution and denouement as we await the findings of Leonato's judicial examination. This is Benedick's first: breath of air since the chapel scene earlier in the morning, and his first opportunity to bask in the knowledge that his love for Beatrice is requited. He sings, no matter how pitifully, William Elderton's ditty, "The God of love/That: sits above/And knows me/ And knows me," which is sure to draw a chuckle from the audience as he attempts sonnet-writing and concludes (30-41):
(The entire section is 363 words.)
Act V, Scene 3 Summary and Analysis
Claudio and Don Pedro, accompanied by a party of lords and musicians, arrive at the monument of Leonato to perform a public mourning for Hero. Claudio reads an epitaph which declares her innocence and then hangs it up at her tomb. Balthasar sings a hymn to Diana, patroness of chastity, entreating her to forgive Hero's slanderers. Claudio vows to do the rite yearly. At dawn the mourners leave, each going their separate way. Claudio and Don Pedro will change their garments and go to Leonato's for the wedding.
The redemption scene, with its epitaph, song, and dialogue, is wholly in rhyme with the exception of the first two lines. At midnight our penitents arrive at Leonato's monument and withdraw into a world of contrition as they enter the damp tomb to experience the spiritual medicine of Friar Francis' restorative, accompanied by a silent black-robed procession with flickering tapers.
Claudio reads the epitaph to Hero, "done to death by slanderous tongues," that he has written (which requires deep-felt delivery to work), hangs up the scroll for public scrutiny, and calls for the dirge (12-21):
Pardon, goddess of the night, Those that slew thy virgin knight; For the which, with songs of woe, Round about her tomb they go. Midnight, assist our moan; Help us to sigh and groan, Heavily, heavily. Graves, yawn and yield your dead, Till death be uttered, Heavily, heavily....
(The entire section is 333 words.)
Act V, Scene 4 Summary and Analysis
This scene takes place in the hall in Leonato's house. Musicians are seated in the gallery. Hero, the prince, and Claudio have been declared innocent, and Margaret in some fault for the slander. Benedick is relieved that he need no longer keep Claudio under his challenge. Leonato directs Hero and the other ladies to withdraw and return, masked, when he sends for them. He directs Antonio to play the father of the bride. When Benedick asks Leonato for Beatrice's hand in marriage and Leonato exposes the double gull, Benedick, though nonplussed at Leonato's answer, reaffirms his request and receives Leonato's blessing.
Prince Don Pedro and Claudio arrive with attendants. Claudio answers in the affirmative when asked by Leonato if he will marry his niece. While Antonio summons Hero and the ladies, Claudio attempts to tease Benedick. Benedick briskly dismisses Claudio with an insult to his heritage. Antonio returns with Hero and the ladies, who are masked. Claudio swears before the friar that he will marry Antonio's masked daughter. When Hero lifts her veil, he and Don Pedro are amazed. Leonato explains that she was dead only as long as her slander lived, which the friar promises to explain. Benedick asks the friar which of the ladies is Beatrice. Unmasking, she coyly steps forth from the line of women. Benedick asks Beatrice if she loves him and she responds "no more than reason," which he echoes, and when Beatrice asks Benedick...
(The entire section is 1390 words.)