What is a summary of Much Ado About Nothing?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies. Set in Italy, it focuses on two coupes, Hero and Claudio and Beatrice and Benedick. The former couple are sweet innocents, while the latter are more likely to fight than try to woo one another (in fact, both are in love with one another without knowing—or be willing to admit—it). The villain is Don John, the illegitimate brother of the Don Pedro, the amiable Prince of Aragon.

Ill-tempered, Don John comes between Hero and Claudio when he makes the latter believe the former has been untrue to him. Claudio slanders Hero in public. Aghast at Claudio's cruelty to her friend, Beatrice demands Benedick kill him. However, Claudio is Benedick's friend, and even though he is in love with Beatrice and craves her favor, Benedick hesitates initially.

In the end, they all arrange to have Hero fake her death, then "return to life" once Claudio proves remorseful. The play ends with both couples marrying, as comedies tend to do. There is also a subplot with the clownish constable Dogberry, who apprehends the villainous Don John despite his foolishness and hot air.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A one page summary of Shakespeare's wonderful comedy can be found here: http://www.enotes.com/muchado/36454

More detailed discussions of each act can be found in the study guide as well.

If you want a shorter summary, the play is a comedy about the trials that two couples go through as they get together. Claudio falls instantly for Hero, but John breaks them up with lies and it takes the whole play for them to get back together. Beatrice and Benedict fight instantly, and it takes tricks by outsiders to get them to fall for one another, which they do. So, two couples, both lovers, both tricked by outsiders, both end happily.


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial