In what ways has order been restored at the end of the play?
Don John, Borachio, and Conrade reverse the merrymaking at the beginning of Much Ado About Nothing. Don John asserts that he is “a plain-dealing villain” who wants to hurt his half-brother Don Pedro in any way he can. The villains trick Claudio into thinking that his fiancée Hero has been unfaithful to him. Don Pedro also falls for this scheme, joining Claudio in shaming Hero at their wedding. Hero’s father Leonato condemns her, but her cousin Beatrice swears that she is innocent. Beatrice’s love Benedick takes Hero’s side and challenges his friend Claudio to a duel. Order desperately needs to be restored for the play to conclude as a comedy.
Friar Francis suggests faking Hero’s death until more information is discovered, hoping that the news of her passing will inspire remorse in Claudio and Don Pedro. It doesn’t, but the ridiculous Constable Dogberry and his watchmen uncover the plot to humiliate Hero, Claudio, and Don Pedro. This discovery humbles the accusers. As penance, Claudio agrees to marry Hero’s imaginary cousin who supposedly resembles her, thus marrying Hero before realizing it really is her.
In the end, Claudio, Don Pedro, and Benedick are reunited as friends, and Claudio and Hero marry. Leonato sees that his daughter is innocent, Don John and his cronies are arrested, and Benedick and Beatrice, who have a history of quarreling, publicly admit their love for one another. Benedick concludes that “man is a giddy thing,” and the play ends in dancing rather than tears.