Illustration of Hero wearing a mask

Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

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Much Ado About Nothing Characters

The main characters in Much Ado About Nothing are Don Pedro, Claudio, Hero, Leonato, Benedick, Beatrice, and Don John.

  • Don Pedro is the Prince of Arragon, who visits Leonato's estate after defeating his half-brother Don John in battle.
  • Claudio is Don Pedro's friend, who falls in love with Hero.
  • Hero is a virtuous woman falsely accused of cheating on Claudio.
  • Leonato is the Governor of Messina.
  • Benedick is Don Pedro's friend who is tricked into falling in love with Beatrice.
  • Beatrice is a bitter woman who is tricked into falling in love with Benedick.
  • Don John is Don Pedro's duplicitous brother. He frames Hero.

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List of Characters

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Don Pedro—Prince of Aragon, courtly and conventional. Fearful of his reputation, he is easily duped by his brother's deception. He enjoys matchmaking.

Leonato—Governor of Messina and father of Hero, whose conventionality is tested by the depth of his grief

Antonio—Leonato's older brother, who tries to philosophize his brother out of his grief, only to find his own anger stirred.

Benedick—Brave, quick-witted and spirited young lord of Padua and a professed misogynist, who will prove his love for Beatrice in a most serious manner

Beatrice—Leona Leonato's niece, whose spirited and merry wit is more than a match for Benedick, and who will, in the end, accept his love and marry him.

Claudio—Young lord of Florence, who, easily swayed by outer appearances, revengefully denounces Hero as a wanton on their wedding day.

Hero—Leonato's daughter; a chaste and docile maiden, wronged by Don John's slander

Margaret and Ursula—Both gentlewomen attending Hero, Margaret is unwittingly employed in Don John's plot to slander Hero.

Don John—Don Pedro's illegitimate brother; an envious and mischief-making malcontent and author of the slander against Hero.

Borachio and Conrade—Followers of Don John who assist him in his slander; Borachio is a drunkard.

Dogberry—Illiterate master constable, whose love of high-faluting words is only matched by his misuse of them, exposes the slanderous deception, thereby saving Hero.

Verges—Headborough, or parish constable, Dogberry's elderly companion.

Sexton (Francis Seacoal)—Learned town clerk, recorder of the examination of Conrade and Borachio, who will see past Dogberry's bumbling and alert Leonato that his daughter's slanderer has been apprehended.

First Watchman and Second Watchman (George Seacoal)—Dogberry's assistants, who providentially overhear Borachio describe the details of the deception perpetrated upon Hero.

Balthasar—Singer attending Don Pedro, whose out-of-key love song sets the tone of the play.

Friar Francis—Priest at the nuptials of Claudio and Hero, who devises a plan to change the hearts of Claudio and Don Pedro and reverse the effects of the slander perpetrated by Don John.

Messenger to Leonato—Announcer of the arrival of Don Pedro and his companions.

Another Messenger—Calls Leonato to the wedding; alerts Leonato that Don John has been taken.

Attendants, Musicians, Members of the Watch, Antonio's Son and Other Kinsmen—Members of the community.

Characters Discussed

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Don Pedro

Don Pedro (PEH-droh), the prince of Aragon. A victorious leader, he has respect and affection for his follower Claudio, for whom he asks the hand of Hero. Deceived like Claudio into thinking Hero false, he angrily shares in the painful repudiation of her at the altar. On learning of her innocence, he is deeply penitent.

Don John

Don John, the bastard brother of Don Pedro. A malcontent and a defeated rebel, he broods on possible revenge and decides to strike Don Pedro through his favorite, Claudio. He arranges to have Don Pedro and Claudio witness what they think is a love scene between Hero and Borachio. When his evil plot is exposed, he shows his guilt by flight. He is a rather ineffectual villain, though his plot almost has tragic consequences.


Claudio (KLOH-dee-oh), a young lord of Florence. A conventional hero of the sort no longer appealing to theater audiences, he behaves in an unforgivable manner to Hero when he thinks she is faithless; however, she—and apparently the Elizabethan audience—forgives him. He is properly repentant when he learns of her innocence, and he is rewarded by being allowed to marry her.


Benedick (BEHN-eh-dihk), a witty young woman-hater. A voluble and attractive young man, he steals the leading role from Claudio. He spends much of his time exchanging sharp remarks with Beatrice. After being tricked by the prince and Claudio into believing that Beatrice is in love with him, he becomes devoted to her. After Claudio’s rejection of Hero, Benedick challenges him, but the duel never takes place. His witty encounters with Beatrice end in marriage.


Hero (HEE-roh), the daughter of Leonato. A pure and gentle girl, and extremely sensitive, she is stunned by the false accusation delivered against her and by Claudio’s harsh repudiation of her in the church. Her swooning is reported by Leonato as death. Her character contains humor and generosity. She forgives Claudio when he repents.


Beatrice (BEE-ah-trihs), Hero’s cousin. Although sprightly and witty, she has a serious side. Her loyal devotion to Hero permits no doubt of her cousin to enter her mind. She turns to her former antagonist, Benedick, for help when Hero is slandered and insists that he kill his friend Claudio. When all is clear and forgiven, she agrees to marry Benedick, but with the face-saving declaration that she does so for pity only.


Leonato (lee-oh-NAH-toh), the governor of Messina, Hero’s father. A good old man, he welcomes Claudio as a prospective son-in-law. He is shocked by the devastating treatment of his daughter at her wedding. Deeply angry with the prince and Claudio, he at first considers trying to kill them but later consents to Friar Francis’ plan to humble them. When Hero is vindicated, he forgives them and allows the delayed marriage to take place.


Conrade (KON-rad), a tale-bearing, unpleasant follower of Don John.


Borachio (boh-RAH-kee-oh), another of Don John’s followers. He is responsible for the idea of rousing Claudio’s jealousy by making him think Hero has received a lover at her bedroom window. He persuades Margaret to wear Hero’s gown and pretend to be Hero. His telling Conrade of his exploit is overheard by the watch and leads to the vindication of Hero. Borachio is much disgruntled at being overreached by the stupid members of the watch; however, he confesses and clears Margaret of any willful complicity in his plot.

Friar Francis

Friar Francis, a kindly, scheming cleric. He recommends that Hero pretend to be dead. His plan is successful in bringing about the repentance of Don Pedro and Claudio and in preparing the way for the happy ending.


Dogberry, a self-important constable. Pompous, verbose, and full of verbal inaccuracies, he fails to communicate properly with Leonato; hence, he does not prevent Hero’s humiliation, though his watchmen already have uncovered the villains.


Verges (VUR-jehs), a headborough. An elderly, bumbling man and a great admirer of his superior, the constable, he seconds the latter in all matters.


Margaret, the innocent betrayer of her mistress, Hero. She does not understand Borachio’s plot and therefore is exonerated, escaping punishment.


Ursula (UR-sew-luh), a gentlewoman attending Hero. She is one of the plotters who trick the sharp-tongued Beatrice into falling in love with Benedick.

First Watchman

First Watchman and

Second Watchman

Second Watchman, plain, simple-minded men. Overhearing Borachio’s boastful confession to Conrade, they apprehend both and take them before the constable, thereby overthrowing clever malice and radically changing the course of events.


Antonio, Leonato’s brother. He plays the role of father to Leonato’s supposed niece (actually Hero), whom Claudio agrees to marry in place of his lost Hero.


Balthasar (BAL-theh-zahr), an attendant to Don Pedro.

A sexton

A sexton, who serves as recorder for Dogberry and the watch during the examination of Conrade and Borachio.

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