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Home : English : Shakespeare Study Guides : Much Ado About Nothing : Act I, scene i - Navigate Here -ContextPlot OverviewCharacter ListAnalysis of Major CharactersThemes, Motifs & Symbols--------------------Act I, scene iAct I, scenes iiiiiAct II, scene iAct II, scenes iiiiiAct III, scenes iiiAct III, scene iiiAct III, scenes ivvAct IV, scenes iiiAct V, scenes iiiAct V, scenes iiiiv--------------------Important Quotations ExplainedKey FactsStudy Questions & Essay TopicsQuizSuggestions for Further Reading READ ORIGINAL TEXT: Act I, Scene i
Act I, scene i
[A]nd 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."
(See Important Quotations Explained)
In the Italian town of Messina, the wealthy and kindly Leonato prepares to welcome home some soldier friends who are returning from a battle. These friends include Don Pedro of Aragon, a highly respected nobleman, and a brave young soldier named Claudio, who has won much honor in the fighting. Leonato's young daughter, Hero, and her cousin, Beatrice, accompany him. Beatrice asks about the health of another soldier in Don Pedro's army, a man named Signor Benedick. Beatrice cleverly mocks and insults Benedick. A messenger from Don Pedro defends Benedick as an honorable and virtuous man, but Leonato explains that Beatrice and Benedick carry on a "merry war" of wits with one another, trading jibes whenever they meet. Beatrice confirms this statement, noting that in their most recent conflict, "four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one" (I.i.5254).
Don Pedro arrives at Leonato's house with his two friends, Claudio and Benedick, and they are joyfully welcomed. Also accompanying Don Pedro is his quiet, sullen,