At a Glance
- Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon, who visits Leonato's estate after defeating his half-brother Don John in battle.
- Claudio, Don Pedro's friend, who immediately falls in love with Hero, Leonato's daughter.
- Hero, a virtuous woman falsely accused of cheating on Claudio on the eve of their wedding.
- Leonato, Governor of Messina, who gives consent for Hero to marry Claudio.
- Benedick, Don Pedro's friend, a confirmed bachelor tricked into falling in love with Beatrice.
- Beatrice, a bitter woman who doesn't believe in marriage and is tricked into falling in love with the equally witty Benedick.
- Don John, Don Pedro's duplicitous brother, who frames Hero on the eve of her wedding.
- Borachio, Don John's accomplice.
- Margaret, Hero's maid, who meets Borachio on Hero's balcony.
List of Characters
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.
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, 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.
(The entire section is 1,196 words.)