Much Ado About Nothing

From Academic Kids

Much Ado About Nothing is a play by William Shakespeare. Considered a comedy, it was most likely first performed in 1598 / 1599. The play's style shares many aspects with the modern romantic comedy; it remains one of Shakespeare's most enduringly popular plays on stage.

The five acts follow two pairs of lovers. Although the romance between Claudio and Hero ostensibly forms the main plot, the action is actually mostly concerned with their counterparts, Benedick and Beatrice, whose love-hate relationship develops in the course of the play.


Claudio and Benedick return from a successful military campaign, which they have fought in Don Pedro's company. They fought against Don John who tried to take them over. Leonato, the governor of Messina, welcomes them into his home. He also invites them to stay in Messina for one month and Don Pedro accepts the invitation. Claudio sets about winning the hand of Hero, Leonato's daughter. Meanwhile, Leonato's witty niece Beatrice "fights" a war of words with her longtime adversary, Benedick.

Claudio and Hero become engaged quickly and they, with others, decide to pass the time until the wedding tricking Benedick and Beatrice into falling in love with each other. Claudio, Leonato, and Don Pedro arrange for Benedick to eavesdrop on a conversation in which they discuss how Beatrice is pining away for him, after which Benedick resolves to "take pity" on Beatrice and love her in return. Hero and her maid, Ursula, carry on a similar conversation within earshot of Beatrice. Immediately, she resolves to be kinder to Benedick.

Don John, Don Pedro's illegitimate brother, wants to cause mischief by stopping the wedding. He decides to prove that Hero is unfaithful by convincing her servant Margaret to dress up in Hero's clothing and be seen with his henchman, Borachio, at Hero's chamber window. Claudio falls for the trick, accuses Hero in front of her father, family, and the friar, and refuses to marry her. Hero faints at the accusation. The friar advises that Hero be reported to have died until her name can be cleared.

Missing image
Claudio, deceived by Don John, accuses Hero by Marcus Stone

Left alone in the church, Benedick and Beatrice acknowledge their love for one another. Beatrice is convinced that Hero has been falsely accused, and extracts a promise from Benedick that he kill his friend Claudio for the harm he has done.

But before the duel can take place, Hero's name quickly becomes cleared. This is easier than it might appear, because on the night of Don John's trick, the local Watch apprehended Borachio and his ally Conrad. Despite the Watch's comical ineptness (their constable, Dogberry, is a master of malapropisms), they overheard the duo discussing their evil plans, and understand that Hero has been wronged. After hearing their evidence, Leonato is fully convinced of Hero's innocence.

Claudio begins to feel deep remorse over the "death" of his bride, and Leonato promises to marry him to a "niece" of his who looks exactly like Hero. Of course, the bride turns out to be Hero, alive and well. At the wedding, Beatrice and Benedick are back to their old trick of wittily denying their love, until Hero and Claudio produce love sonnets that Beatrice and Benedick had written to each other. The play ends in a joyous double wedding, capped by the announcement that Don John has been captured while trying to flee Messina.

There have been several film versions of Much Ado About Nothing, including one highly acclaimed version by Kenneth Branagh, set in Messina, Italy.

External links

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