Much Ado About Nothing


Act 5: Scenes 3 to 4

Summary: Act 5, Scene 3

Claudio and Don Pedro, with a few others, are keeping an all-night vigil at Hero’s grave. Claudio’s epitaph, which poetically declares Hero’s innocence and unfair death by “slanderous tongues,” is hung upon her tombstone. There is a song of mourning. As the sun begins to rise, Don Pedro calls an end to the vigil. He accompanies Claudio to Leonato’s house in preparation for today’s wedding ceremony, which Claudio hopes will be luckier for everyone than yesterday’s.

Summary: Act 5, Scene 4

At Leonato’s house, the friar addresses Hero, Beatrice, Benedick, Ursula, Margaret, Antonio and Leonato, reminding everyone of his confidence in Hero’s innocence. Leonato forgives Margaret for the unwitting role she played in Don John’s scheme. In preparation for the wedding, all the women cover their faces with veils, and Leonato reminds Antonio that he must present Hero as his own daughter. After the ladies exit, Benedick approaches the friar to request his services. He then obtains Leonato’s approval to marry Beatrice.

Don Pedro and Claudio enter. The veiled ladies are all brought in by Antonio, and Claudio renews his promise to marry Antonio’s daughter without having seen her face. Hero lifts her veil, and Claudio is overwhelmed with joy. Leonato reminds everyone that Hero was dead only as long as her slander lived. As the friar encourages the group to move toward the chapel, Benedick steps forward and asks which of the veiled women is Beatrice. She removes her veil and steps forward, but responds to Benedick’s questions about love with her usual sharp wit. They volley denials of love back and forth until Claudio and Hero step forward with written proof: poems in Beatrice’s and Benedick’s own handwriting, each declaring his or her love for the other. At last, Beatrice and Benedick agree to marry. Benedick calls for a celebratory dance before the ceremony.

A messenger brings word that Don John...

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