Don Pedro, the Prince of Arragon, and Leonato, Governor of Messina, plot to make Beatrice and Benedick fall in love. Don Pedro tells his friend Benedick, “I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love,” which Benedick staunchly denies: “With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord, not with love.” Benedick rails against women and marriage, just as Beatrice thanks god that she is not married because no man is for her.
While waiting for the marriage between Claudio and Hero, the prince proposes to play matchmaker. He knows how difficult it will be to unite the stubborn Beatrice and Benedick, for he compares it to “one of Hercules' labours.” Leonato immediately agrees, as do Claudio and Hero. Don Pedro decides to do this to have some fun and prevent boredom, because he cares about both Beatrice and Benedick, and perhaps because he enjoys and is used to having control over other people.
This plan involves talking about Beatrice’s “love” for Benedick in front of him, while pretending they are unaware of his presence. They discuss the pain she feels and how she will never reveal her affection for him. To top things off, they praise her and disparage Benedick. Hero and Ursula put on the same show for Beatrice. Their plot easily succeeds, sparking a romance between the two enemies turned lovers that lasts throughout the play, in spite of a few hiccups along the way.