Act III, Scene 5 Summary and Analysis
New Character: Messenger: calls Leonato to the wedding.
The scene takes place in the hail in Leonato's house. Dogberry and Verges visit Leonato just as he is about to leave for the wedding. They chatter, trying Leonato's patience. Finally they tell him that they apprehended two suspicious characters who they want to have examined that morning before him. Leonato instructs them to take the examination and bring it to him. Leonato leaves to give Hero in marriage. Dogberry instructs Verges to send for Francis Seacoal, the sexton, to write down the examination which they will take at the jail.
Shakespeare provides us with the most suspenseful moment of the play when Dogberry's tediousness and Leonato's impatience collide to prevent the disclosure of Don John's villainy before the wedding. Whatever the matter is, Leonato simply doesn't want to hear it. Ironically, he can't possibly imagine that anything these patronizing and tangential commoners could say would be of any interest to him. The dialogue is painfully funny:
Act III 65 Leonato: Neighbors, you are tedious.
Dogberry: It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor Duke's officers; but truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find in my heart to bestow it all of your worship.
Leonato: All thy tediousness on me, ah? Dogberry: Yea, an 'twere a thousand pound more than 'tis; for I hear as good exclamation on your worship as of any man in the city, and though I be but a poor man, I am glad to hear it. Leonato: I would fain know what you have to say.
Verges then tells him they've taken prisoners, but Dogberry, not to be upstaged, pursues another loquacious tangent and an exasperated Leonato tells Dogberry to examine the prisoners himself. This is Dogberry's triumph and, fortunately, he will have only the best, learned writer take his first interrogation and so these men, "honest as the skin between their brows," who have done their job and "comprehend [ed] vagrom men," are off to the jail to question Borachio and Conrade. Knowing that, eventually, the wrong perpetrated against Hero will be righted, we proceed to the wedding.