Much Ado About Nothing


Plot Summary

Leonato is the governor of a lovely, peaceful town called Messina, located in the south of Italy. At the beginning of the play, the friendly Leonato receives word that Prince Don Pedro of Arragon has finished his military action and is coming to stay with Leonato. The kindly older gentleman is delighted to hear about the visit from the prince and his company of soldiers, since they have stayed with Leonato in the past and it was enjoyable.

The other members of Leonato’s household include his beautiful, obedient daughter Hero, his quick-witted and independent-spirited niece Beatrice, and his brother Antonio. Leonato’s entire household welcomes the company of Don Pedro, including the prince’s recently defeated, brooding illegitimate brother Don John. The clever Beatrice immediately resumes an entertaining war of words with Don Pedro’s officer Signor Benedick, whom she knows from a previous encounter.

Don Pedro’s right-hand man, Count Claudio, confesses to the prince that he is in love with Hero and wants to marry her. The prince and Leonato soon give their blessings; Hero and Claudio are engaged. Benedick and Beatrice, respectively, declare themselves immune to love and marriage, each of them having harsh criticisms of the opposite sex. Clearly, Beatrice and Benedick are a match made in heaven. Don Pedro and the others—Claudio, Hero, and Leonato—conspire together in an innocent and amusing scheme to make Beatrice and Benedick fall in love with one another. Their plan works, and Benedick is on the verge of asking Leonato for Beatrice’s hand in marriage when the evil plotting of Don John suddenly throws a wrench into everyone’s plans.

Out of resentment toward Don Pedro and Claudio, Don John gets his crony Borachio to seduce Hero’s maid, Margaret. Borachio stages his seduction at a window near Hero’s bedroom and, in the darkness, it appears to Don Pedro and Claudio—who have been lured to look at the window by Don John—that Borachio is wooing a willing Hero. The next day, Claudio...

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