Illustration of Hero wearing a mask

Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

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Act 1, Scene 1 Summary

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Last Updated February 6, 2023.

Leonato, the governor of Messina, is informed that Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, and his lords Claudio and Benedick will soon arrive. 

Don Pedro arrives with Balthasar and Don John in tow.

Beatrice, Leonato’s niece, outduels Benedick in a lively battle of wits, during which he calls her “disdainful” and she calls him a “pernicious suitor.”

Leonato greets them all warmly and invites them to stay as guests. 

After everyone leaves except Claudio and Benedick, Claudio confesses his love for Hero, Leonato’s daughter, and a desire to marry her if she is modest.  

Benedick reveals his attraction to Beatrice but expresses doubt due to her fiery temperament.

Don Pedro returns in time to hear this conversation. He vouches for Hero's chastity and offers to arrange the marriage by wooing Hero while disguised as Claudio and then asking Leonato for her hand in marriage.

Benedick admits to both his misogyny and his hesitancy regarding marriage.

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Act 1, Scene 2 Summary