Act III, Scene 4 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 268

The scene is set in the sitting room adjacent to Hero's bedchamber. Hero sends Ursula to wake up Beatrice and tell her to come to the sitting room. Hero and Margaret discuss what she will wear. Beatrice arrives, sick, and tells Hero it is time to dress for the wedding. Margaret teasingly suggests to Beatrice that she take the herb, carduus benedictus, for her malady. Ursula returns to announce that the wedding party is ready to escort Hero to the church. The women hasten to the bed-chamber to dress her.

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This innocent prose scene, on the morning before the wedding, softens us to empathize with Hero. Margaret does not want Hero to wear a certain rebato, possibly the one she wore in the staged deceit the night before, but Hero lets us know she has a mind of her own by insisting on it, dismissing both Margaret and Beatrice as fools, and Margaret scandalizes Hero with her bawdy humor. This scene refreshes the fashion imagery and theme of outer appearance.

Beatrice's illness explains why she slept separately from Hero the night before; it also affords the ladies the opportunity to tease her about her new-found love. Margaret, fancying herself as good a wit as Beatrice, gets in a pointed stab when she advises Beatrice, "Get you some of this distilled carduus benedictus and lay it to your heart. It is the only thing for a qualm." And Hero quips, "There thou prick'st her with a thistle." The pun and double entendre is obvious. We, with the wedding party; await her as she runs off to dress.

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