In Much Ado about Nothing, what is the epitaph/ funeral poem about?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing puts in contrast two sets of couples, Beatrice and Benedick, who engage in witty banters that indicate their distaste for one another and for love, when, unbeknowst to them, they are really falling in love with one another; the other couple, Hero and Claudio, are simpler in their relationship as they privately acknowledge their love for one another although they are rendered practically speechless by their emotion.

When the gullible Claudio is tricked into thinking that Hero has had "an amiable encounter (3.3.)" and been unfaithful to him, he launches into an invective against her at the altar on their wedding day, calling her "an approved wanton" and a "common stale [harlot]" (4.1). But, the friar who presides over the wedding is convinced of the innocence of Hero, so he suggests that the family fake Hero's death in order to extract a confession from the tricksters and remorse from Claudio. 

In Act V, then, the local Watch headed by Dogberry bring together the others involved and informs Claudio of the truth. As penance, then, Claudio is told to deliver a eulogy for Hero. Further, Leonato tells Claudio that he must marry his niece, and Claudio agrees. At the "funeral," Claudio hangs on Hero's tomb an epitaph. Then, at the wedding ceremony to the niece, Hero is unveiled to him.

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