Much Ado About Nothing - Summary


Act I, scene I
A messenger brings word to Leonato that Don Pedro of Aragon is passing through Messina on his return from a victorious battle. Then Beatrice asks if Benedick is part of the company, but then hides her interest in the news. Shortly the company of Don Pedro, Claudio, and Benedick arrives and Beatrice and Benedick trade clever remarks with one another, both professing that love is only for fools. Meanwhile Claudio, attracted by Hero's beauty, thinks he is in love. He asks Benedick what he thinks of the lady, but Benedick only rails against marriage and womankind. Don Pedro, however, supports Claudio's interest in Hero, and tells him that he will speak to Hero and her father during the masked revels that evening.
Act I, scene II
A complication arises immediately when Antonio reports to Leonato that he overheard the Prince telling Claudio that he is in love with Hero. Leonato says that he'll wait to see what will happen.
Act I, scene III
Meanwhile Don John, Don Pedro's bastard brother, hides his hateful nature, waiting for the right moment to cause problems for his brother and Claudio, who he thinks has taken his place in his brother's affections. He hopes Claudio's desire to wed Hero will give him an occasion to cause some mischief.
Act II, scene I
Leonato and his daughter and niece are ready for the party to begin. While Beatrice complains that there is no man who can match her spirit, Hero obediently consents to her father's counsel to accept the Prince when he woos. All wear masks for the dance which leads to confusion and fun. Don Pedro talks to Hero privately while Benedick and Beatrice exchange insults. Meanwhile, Don John tries to cause trouble by telling Claudio that Pedro plans to wed Hero himself. Claudio thinks he has lost Hero and becomes very angry with Pedro. However, Pedro comes in to announce that he has completed the match between Hero and Claudio, and instantly Claudio's jealousy turns to joy. Now that the wedding is arranged, the Duke proposes a plan to get Beatrice and Benedick fall in love with one another.
Act II, scene II
Don John and Borachio hatch a scheme to thwart Claudio's marriage plans by making Hero seem unchaste. Borachio will arrange to meet with Margaret at Hero's window in the middle of the night. Thereby, he will fool the Duke and Claudio into believing that Hero is having an affair.
Act II, scene III
Benedick is in the garden lamenting how love has changed Claudio. He is no longer a simple, frank, natural soldier but a lover, concerned about fashion, manners, and poetry. Benedick reconfirms his resolve to have nothing to do with marriage. The woman he would surrender himself to must be fair, wise, and virtuous, and he hasn't met any woman like this.
He hides in an arbor when Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato approach. Having seen him, they begin their scheme to get Benedick and Beatrice romantically involved. They announce that Beatrice loves Benedick, but they express fear that Benedick will just make fun of the lady.
Benedick is completely fooled by their trick, and when he sees Beatrice coming to call him in to dinner, he is charmed of her. Although Beatrice is sharp in her speech, Benedick now hears words of love where before he heard only her insults.
Act III, scene I
Hero arranges for Beatrice to overhear a conversation about Benedick's love sickness and desire for Beatrice. Beatrice listens while Hero and her waiting lady pity about how Beatrice would only make fun of Benedick if she knew. Beatrice is taken in and has a complete change of heart; she vows to love Benedick if he will have her.
Act III, scene II
Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato tease Benedick saying he doesn't look like himself; he is pale and melancholy as well as clean and newly shaven. Finally when he can't stand their teasing anymore, Benedick asks to talk privately with Leonato.
Don John joins Don Pedro and Claudio and accuses Hero of being unfaithful. He says he wants to save Claudio from a dishonorable marriage, and he will take them that night to Hero's bedroom window where they will see her with a man on the night before her wedding. Claudio swears that if she is with a man, he will shame her at their wedding before the whole