Illustration of Hero wearing a mask

Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

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What makes Act 3, scene 3 of Much Ado About Nothing interesting?

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My favorite character of the play, Dogberry, is introduced in this scene.  Dogberry, as the town constable, is telling the night watchmen to be on the lookout for any mischief or trouble as they begin their nightly watch.  There is special concern since Prince Don Pedro is in town and the wedding of Hero, the governor's daughter, is to take place the next day. His challenge to the watchmen is very funny because of how Dogberry misuses the language.  For example, he uses the word "allegiance" in a way that it means the opposite of it's real meaning, he says "desartless" for "deserving", and he says "tolerable" when he means "intolerable".  Also, he tells the guards it is OK for them to fall asleep rather than talk and make noise, and if the drunks won't go home when asked, just to let them sober up first, then send them home.  He is not a man possessing good sense at all.  He is pure comedy whenever he appears in the play.  The other part of the scene isn't as funny, but it is highly important to the action of the play because Borachio tells Conrade about the deception he helped Don John carry out to dishonor Hero as a means of revenge against Claudio, Don Pedro's right-hand man.  The watchmen overhear this exchange and arrest both Borachio and Conrade thus giving proof later to Hero's innocence.

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