Much Ado About Nothing Book Summary

Much Ado About Nothing Summary & Quotes & Questions and Answers, it is a comedy by William Shakespeare thought to have been written in 1598 and 1599. The play was included in the First Folio, published in 1623.

The play is set in Messina and revolves around two romantic pairings that emerge when a group of soldiers arrives in the town. The first, between Claudio and Hero, is nearly scuppered by the accusations of the villain, Don John. The second, between Claudio's friend Benedick and Hero's cousin Beatrice, takes centre stage as the play continues, with both characters' wit and banter providing much of the humour.

Through "noting" (sounding like "nothing" and meaning gossip, rumour, overhearing), Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into believing that Hero is not a maiden (virgin). The title's play on words references the secrets and trickery that form the backbone of the play's comedy, intrigue, and action.

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Much Ado About Nothing Summary

Much Ado About Nothing Summary

Leonato, a kindly, respectable nobleman, lives in the idyllic Italian town of Messina. Leonato shares his house with his lovely young daughter, Hero, his playful, clever niece, Beatrice, and his elderly brother, Antonio (who is Beatrice's father). As the play begins, Leonato prepares to welcome some friends home from a war. The friends include Don Pedro, a prince who is a close friend of Leonato, and two fellow soldiers: Claudio, a well-respected young nobleman, and Benedick, a clever man who constantly makes witty jokes, often at the expense of his friends. Don John, Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother, is part of the crowd as well. Don John is sullen and bitter, and makes trouble for the others.

When the soldiers arrive at Leonato’s home, Claudio quickly falls in love with Hero. Meanwhile, Benedick and Beatrice resume the war of witty insults that they have carried on with each other in the past. Claudio and Hero pledge their love to one another and decide to be married. To pass the time in the week before the wedding, the lovers and their friends decide to play a game. They want to get Beatrice and Benedick, who are clearly meant for each other, to stop arguing and fall in love. Their tricks prove successful, and Beatrice and Benedick soon fall secretly in love with each other.

But Don John has decided to disrupt everyone’s happiness. He has his companion Borachio make love to Margaret, Hero’s serving woman, at Hero’s window in the darkness of the night, and he brings Don Pedro and Claudio to watch. Believing that he has seen Hero being unfaithful to him, the enraged Claudio humiliates Hero by suddenly accusing her of lechery on the day of their wedding and abandoning her at the altar. Hero’s stricken family members decide to pretend that she died suddenly of shock and grief and to hide her away while they wait for the truth about her innocence to come to light. In the aftermath of the rejection, Benedick and Beatrice finally confess their love to one another. Fortunately, the night watchmen overhear Borachio bragging about his crime. Dogberry and Verges, the heads of the local police, ultimately arrest both Borachio and Conrad, another of Don John’s followers. Everyone learns that Hero is really innocent, and Claudio, who believes she is dead, grieves for her.

Leonato tells Claudio that, as punishment, he wants Claudio to tell everybody in the city how innocent Hero was. He also wants Claudio to marry Leonato’s “niece”—a girl who, he says, looks much like the dead Hero. Claudio goes to church with the others, preparing to marry the mysterious, masked woman he thinks is Hero’s cousin. When Hero reveals herself as the masked woman, Claudio is overwhelmed with joy. Benedick then asks Beatrice if she will marry him, and after some arguing they agree. The joyful lovers all have a merry dance before they celebrate their double wedding.

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Much Ado About Nothing Quotes

  • “I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.”
  • “Let me be that I am and seek not to alter me.”
  • “I do love nothing in the world so well as you- is not that strange?”
  • “Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.”
  • “For which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?”
  • “He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man. He that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him.”
  • “When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.”
  • “I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.”
  • “There was a star danced, and under that was I born.”
  • “I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue.”
  • “Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.”
  • “Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady, as you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for
  • “I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes—and moreover, I will go with thee to thy uncle’s.”
  • “Love me!... Why?”
  • “Tax not so bad a voice to slander music any more than once.”
  • “For man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.”
  • “You are thought here to the most senseless and fit man for the job.”
  • “Is it not strange that sheep's guts could hail souls out of men's bodies?”
  • “Suffer love! A good ephitet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.”
  • “When you depart from me sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave.”

Much Ado About Nothing Characters

Benedick: Young, funny and locked into a love-hate relationship with Beatrice. He has been away fighting under Don Pedro, and upon his return to Messina, he vows never to marry. This slowly changes throughout the play — by the time he agrees to kill Claudio at the request of Beatrice, we know that he is committed to her. His sharpest weapon is his wit, but he meets his match with Beatrice.

Beatrice: In many ways, she is very similar to her lover, Benedick; she is locked into the same love-hate relationship, is quick-witted and never wants to marry. The events of the play soon reveal the vulnerable side beneath her “hardened” exterior. Once she is tricked into thinking that Benedick is in love with her, she soon reveals her sweet, sensitive side. However, it is hinted throughout the play that Beatrice was once in love with Benedick, but their relationship went sour: “I know you of old,” she scorns.

Claudio: One of Don Pedro’s men and a young lord of Florence. Although commended for his bravery in battle, Claudio is presented as young and naive. He is a difficult character to sympathize with because he is led purely by his courtly sense of honor. Throughout the play, he swings from love to despair to revenge too easily. In the first scene, he falls hopelessly in love with Hero (without even speaking to her!) and quickly takes revenge when he thinks he has been wronged by her. It is this character trait that enables the play’s central plot.

Hero: As the beautiful daughter of Leonato, she soon attracts the attention of Claudio, who instantly falls in love with her. She is the innocent victim in the play when she is slandered by Don John as part of his plan to crush Claudio. Her sweet, gentle nature highlights her piety and contrasts nicely with Beatrice.

Don Pedro: As the Prince of Aragon, Don Pedro is the most powerful character in the play, and he is happy to use his power to manipulate events — but only for the good of his soldiers and friends. Don Pedro takes it upon himself to get Benedick and Beatrice together and set up the marriage between Claudio and Hero. Although he is a force for good in the play, he is too quick to believe his villainous brother about Hero’s infidelity and is too quick to help Claudio to seek revenge. Interestingly, Don Pedro makes half-advances on both Hero and Beatrice in the play — perhaps this explains his sadness in the final scene when he is the only nobleman without a wife.

Don John: Referred to as “the bastard,” Don John is the illegitimate half-brother of Don Pedro. He is the villain of the play and needs little motivation to ruin the marriage of Claudio and Hero — in his own words, “I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain.” Before the play begins, Don John had been leading a rebellion against his brother — which is the battle Don Pedro and his men return triumphant from in the opening scene of the play. Although he claims to be “reconciled” to his brother, he secretly wants revenge for his defeat.

Leonato: He is the governor of Messina, father to Hero, uncle to Beatrice and host to Don Pedro and his men. His long friendship with Don Pedro doesn’t stop him from lambasting him when he sides with Claudio over his claims on Hero’s infidelity — he is probably the only character in the play with enough authority to give Don Pedro a piece of his mind. The honor of his family is very important to him, and he suffers greatly when Don John’s plan destroys this.

Antonio: Leonato’s brother and father figure to Beatrice. Although elderly, he is loyal to his brother no matter what the cost.

Questions about Much Ado About Nothing Plot

What is a short summary of Much Ado About Nothing? The primary plot of Much Ado About Nothing turns on the courtship and scandal involving young Hero and her suitor, Claudio, but the witty war of words between Claudio's friend Benedick and Hero's cousin Beatrice often takes center stage. Set in Messina, the play begins as Don Pedro's army returns after a victory.

What is the main message of the play Much Ado About Nothing? What is the moral of the story in Much Ado About Nothing? The moral of the play is that communication is important. Miscommunication and assumptions can and often do lead to tragedy.

What is the tragedy in Much Ado About Nothing? Claudio's suspicious and jealous nature leads him into the realm of a darker side of love. Tragedy seems to prevail as for a time Claudio believes Hero to be dead and is then informed that she is innocent of any wrong doing.

Why is it called Much Ado About Nothing? Taken literally, the title of this play implies that a lot of time and effort (much ado) is put into something insignificant (nothing). This is illustrated through the unfounded claims that Benedick and Beatrice love each other or in the accusation of Hero's infidelity.

Who suffers in Much Ado About Nothing? Hero. The beautiful young daughter of Leonato and the cousin of Beatrice. Hero is lovely, gentle, and kind. She falls in love with Claudio when he falls for her, but when Don John slanders her and Claudio rashly takes revenge, she suffers terribly.

What is the context of the story much ado? Much Ado About Nothing was written in 1598, but the story takes place sometime around the 16th century during the Italian Wars in Messina, Italy. Shakespeare's characters thus come from many different places in Europe and Italy, including Aragon, Padua, and Florence.

Who is the hero in Much Ado About Nothing? Hero is the innocent and obedient daughter of Leonato. She contrasts with the more outspoken and independent Beatrice and presents a conventional image of a suitable and desirable wife. Claudio describes her as a 'jewel' when he first meets her and praises her for being 'modest'.

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