Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing opens with the arrival of Don Pedro, Claudio, and Benedick to Leonato's court after their defeat of and reconciliation with Don Pedro's half-brother Don John. Leonato's daughter, Hero, and his niece, Beatrice, are also present. The first meeting of Benedick and Beatrice sets the tone for their relationship--quick-witted and bickering. After the ladies leave, Claudio confides that he is in love with Hero. Since Claudio is too shy to declare his love in person, Don Pedro volunteers to court Hero in his behalf. This will be simple since a masquerade party is scheduled for that night.
Leonato is misinformed that Don Pedro is in love with his daughter and will ask for her hand while Don John knows that he is only courting her in Claudio's name. Don John, always the villain, decides to stir up trouble by telling Claudio that Don Pedro really does plan to run away with Hero. Claudio, somewhat gullible, believes him and loses faith in Hero. Don Pedro sets the record straight and also devises a scheme to make a match of Beatrice and Benedick. To do this, he, Claudio, and Leonato stage a conversation within earshot of Benedick to convince him that Beatrice is madly in love with him. Benedick immediately believes the scene and sets off to woo Beatrice. Hero and her maid stage a similar scene for Beatrice, who is also taken in.
Meanwhile, Don John has devised a new scheme to break up Claudio's and Hero's impending wedding. Borachio will stand outside Hero's window while a servant, Margaret, will dress up in Hero's clothes and play her part. Their exchange will confirm to Claudio that Hero is not fit to be his wife. The plan works to a marvel and Claudio determines to discredit his bride publicly.
At the wedding, Claudio so insults Hero that she faints, causing Don Pedro and Claudio to believe that she is dead. Friar Francis tells Hero to remain "dead" until the muddle is cleared up. In the aftermath of the pseudo-wedding, Benedick and Beatrice declare their love for each other. Constable Dogberry and his officers apprehend Borachio and Conrade and through no fault of Dogberry's, it is discovered that they are the villains responsible for the "death" of Hero.
Leonato meanwhile tells Claudio that he will give him as a wife his niece (Hero in disguise). When Hero is presented to Claudio, he is told of Don John's scheme and all is forgiven. The play has a happy ending typical of comedies, as all the happy couples engage in a dance.
Don Pedro - A Prince of Arragon, he was duped into believing that Hero was unfaithful to Claudio.
Leonato - Governor of Messina and the father of Hero, he is liked and respected by his subjects.
Don John - He is Don Pedro's illegitimate brother and the villain of the play.
Claudio - As Lord of Florence, he is a friend to Don Pedro and betrothed to Hero.
Benedick - He is Lord of Padua. A friend of Don Pedro, he is engaged in a verbal battle with Beatrice. Benedick has sworn to never marry and mocks all men who are not bachelors.
Antonio - Leonato's brother, Antonio is rash and quick to judge, threatening Claudio and Don Pedro with physical harm.
Borachio - Borachio is Don John's doer of dirty deeds.
Dogberry - Dogberry is the town constable. An abuser of the English language, he discovers the villains through a series of accidents.
Friar Francis - He is the voice of reason in this comedy. He convinces Hero to pretend that she is dead while her reputation is cleared.
Hero - Hero is Leonato's daughter. She is the victim of Don John's misdeeds, but eventually finds happiness with Claudio.
Beatrice - She is Leonato's niece. She finds fault in all men, but falls in love with the quick-witted Benedick.
"Benedick, the married man."
Don Pedro Act V scene iv
"That he were here to write me down an !"
Dogberry Act IV scene ii
"Every one can master grief but he that has it."
Benedick Act III scene ii
"For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently."
Benedick Act V scene i
"Yet say I, he is in love."
Claudio Act III scene ii