What is the difference between Leonato and Antonio?

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Noelle Matteson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Antonio is a minor but amusing character in Much Ado About Nothing. He comes across as hastier and more playful than his brother Leonato. He is the one who first reports Claudio’s interest in Leonato’s daughter Hero. Leonato assumes this is just gossip, but Antonio seems certain of his servant’s ability to spy. He sees no reason not to jump to conclusions, and he turns out to be right about Claudio’s feelings.

At a masked dance, Antonio teases Ursula about his identity, swearing that he is not Antonio, in spite of her continued attempts to call him out. When Leonato grieves at Hero’s slander, Antonio urges him to not take it so hard. They even argue after Antonio accuses him of being childish, Leonato replying, “I will be flesh and blood; / For there was never yet philosopher / That could endure the toothache patiently.”

Antonio suggests turning his anger away from himself and onto those who slandered Hero. Apparently, Antonio expresses grief more outwardly because when Claudio and Don Pedro arrive, he dresses them down and threatens them with violence. They are not intimidated by this much older man, but Antonio doesn’t let that stop him. He calls them, “Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops!” and accuses them of having a worse bark than bite. Leonato vainly tries to calm his brother. Leonato and Antonio have a fairly believable sibling relationship, and the two are subtly differentiated as characters.

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Much Ado About Nothing

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