Much Ado About Nothing


Act 5: Scenes 1 to 2

Summary: Act 5, Scene 1

Antonio attempts to comfort Leonato, worried that Leonato will kill himself with grief. Leonato is inconsolable. Finally, Antonio convinces his brother to at least share some of his rage with those who have caused it rather than bearing all the burden of it himself. Don Pedro and Claudio enter, preparing for their departure from Messina. Heatedly, Leonato and Antonio accuse them of having killed Hero with their slanders. Leonato challenges Claudio to a duel, which Claudio refuses in a dismissive way. Finally, the prince says he is sorry for Hero’s death but insists once more that he and Claudio had no part in causing it because everything they accused her of was “very full of proof.”

After the older men depart, Benedick enters. Claudio and Don Pedro attempt to joke with him in their usual fashion. They make mocking comments about Leonato and then start teasing him about Beatrice. Benedick responds coldly, refusing to join in their banter. In an aside to Claudio, he accuses him of being a villain and of having killed Hero with his slander. He challenges Claudio to a duel. At first, Claudio does not take the challenge seriously, but Benedick’s tone grows even more angry. Finally, Benedick tells Don Pedro that he must quit his company, that Don John has suspiciously fled from Messina, and that they are all responsible for the death of a “sweet and innocent lady.” After his exit, Claudio and Don Pedro both express some apprehension about the seriousness of Benedick’s challenge.

 Dogberry arrives with Conrade and Borachio in tow. He is looking for Leonato, to present the prisoners to his justice. Don Pedro wants to know what the criminals have done wrong. Borachio issues a full confession, explaining how he was paid by Don John to make it appear that he was making love to Hero at her bedchamber window. Claudio and the prince are stunned; suddenly, Claudio begins to grieve the death of Hero. Leonato and Antonio appear. Claudio begs Leonato to give him some penance for his...

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