Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

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"As Merry As The Day Is Long"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Beatrice, the charmingly witty niece to Leonato, Governor of Messina, is determined never to marry. She says she "could not endure a husband with a beard on his face," and could have no use for an unbearded one unless it was to "make him (her) waiting-genltewoman." When she dies, she says, she will go to the gate of Hell but will be told to go to Heaven, for there is no place in Hell for maids. Then she continues:

BEATRICE. . . So deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter. For the heavens he shows me, where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the day is long.

"Benedick The Married Man"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Claudio, a young lord of Florence, and Benedick, a young lord of Padua, are discussing love and marriage. Claudio is falling in love with Hero, who he thinks is the greatest "jewel," the "sweetest lady that ever (he) looked on." Benedick, a witty self-styled woman-hater, confesses that he is glad that his mother was a woman, but he "will live a bachelor." Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon, tells Benedick that he will fall, "in time the savage bull doth bear the yoke." To this Benedick responds:

BENEDICKThe savage bull may, but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull's horns, and set them in my forehead; and let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as they write, here is good horse to hire, let them signify under my sign, here you may see Benedick the married man.

"Done To Death By Slanderous Tongues"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Hero, daughter of Leonato, Governor of Messina, is promised in marriage to Claudio, a young Florentine lord. However, Don John, the unhappy brother of Don Pedro, determines to frustrate the marriage. He plots with Borachio to cause Claudio to doubt Hero's honor. At the wedding ceremony, Don Pedro and Claudio denounce Hero, and she falls into a swoon. It is then given out that Hero is dead. Claudio visits the Leonato tomb and there reads from a scroll, which he then hangs up on the tomb:

CLAUDIODone to death by slanderous tongues,Was the Hero that here lies.Death, in guerdon of her wrongs,Gives her fame which never dies.So the life that died with shameLives in death with glorious fame.

"Everyone Can Master A Grief But He That Has It"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The principal comic device of this play is an elaborate intrigue in which Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato attempt to provoke romantic interest between Benedick and Beatrice, the mocking anti-lovers. By arrangement, each while eavesdropping overhears a declaration of the other's love, and each in turn feels an attraction for the other which he erstwhile has refused to admit to himself, let alone to others. One of the great comic moments comes with this public admission. After all, the jeerers at love have a reputation for barbed wit and cynical jests–directed especially at each other–and difficult indeed is the admission that they who were love's mockers are now love's victims. The comic anticipation is high, then, as Benedick comes on stage for the first time since the eavesdropping scene. His friends, primed for lighthearted taunting, wait to see how he will face down his...

(The entire section is 2,645 words.)