Abridged Much Ado About Nothing/#1/Background/Act 1, Scene 1.1

Three soldiers, Don Pedro of Aragon, known here as
Prince, and two of his men, Benedick and Claudio, are welcomed to Messina by
the city’s governor, Leonato.  Messina is
a port city in Sicily.  Leonato is
accompanied by his daughter, Hero, and his niece, Beatrice.  Don Pedro and his men are returning to Sicily
following a successful military “action.”
Count Claudio was the hero of the military campaign, and is a naïve and
classy young man.  Benedict, on the other
hand, sees himself as a ladies-man.  Beatrice asks about him, noting that at an
earlier time he had distributed flyers, challenging Cupid to an archery duel, and
claiming that he’s better than Cupid at winning women’s hearts. Beatrice and
Benedick had had an earlier relationship, she having said “He once before won
the heart of me with false dice.”  Leonato
chides her, saying “Faith, niece, you criticize Signior Benedick too
much.”  Beatrice replies “He is no less
than a stuffed man.”  Beatrice is
feisty.  Hero is a knock-out.  The Prince turns to Hero, saying “I think
this is your daughter.”  Leonato replies
“Her mother hath many times told me so.”
Leonato, Hero and the Prince move aside.
Benedick and Beatrice swap insults, she saying “Benedick, nobody marks
you.”  He comes back “What, my dear Lady
Disdain!  Are you yet living?”  Leonato and the Prince re-enter.  Prince says “Leonato has invited us to stay
here at least a month, and he heartily prays some occasion may detain us

Abridged Much Ado About Nothing/#2/Love/Act 1, Scene 1.2

Claudio and Benedick are on stage, Claudio saying
“Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?”  Benedick says “I noted her not, but I looked
on her.”  He then belittles her, “being a
professed tyrant to their sex,” he says.
Benedick asks “I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have
you?”  Claudio replies “I would scarce
trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.”  Benedick asks “Is ‘t come to this?”  Prince enters.  Benedick tells him “Count Claudio is in
love.”  In spite of Benedick’s protests,
Prince says “Amen, if you love her, for the lady is very well worthy.”  Claudio says “That I love her, I feel.”  The Prince is firm, saying “That she is
worthy, I know.”  Talking of marriage,
Benedick says “I will die in it at the stake.”
Prince replies “Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of
beauty.”  Benedick says if I ever fall in
love “hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot at me.”  We learn that Leonato has invited the Prince
to his home for a dinner party that night. Benedick exits. Claudio says to the
Prince “My liege, your Highness now may do me good.”  Prince says “My love is thine to teach.”
Claudio asks him “hath Leonato any son, my lord?”  Prince replies “No child but Hero.”  Claudio says, before “we went on to this
ended action, I looked upon her with a soldier’s eye, but now that my war thoughts
are vacant, my delicate desires turn to fair young Hero.”  Prince, planning to attend the dinner party,
tells him “if thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it, I will reveal your love to
her and with her father, and thou shalt have her.”  He tells Claudio “I know we shall have
reveling tonight.  I will assume thy part
in some disguise and tell fair Hero I am Claudio, and take her hearing prisoner
with the force and strong encounter of my amorous tale. Then afterward, I will
speak with her father, and she shall be thine.”

Abridged Much Ado About Nothing/#3/Retribution/Act 1, Scenes 2-3

Leonato and his older brother Anthony, known here as
Leonato’s Brother, are on stage having a conversation.  The older brother, having received some
misinformation, tells Leonato that “The Prince and Claudio were overheard by a
servant of mine.  The Prince revealed to
Claudio that he loved my niece your daughter and meant to acknowledge it this
night in a dance, and if he found her accordant, he meant to take the present
time to break with you of it.”  Leonato
replies “we will hold it as a dream till it appear itself.  But I will acquaint my daughter withal.  Go you and tell her of it.”  They exit.
Don John enters.  Don John is the
Prince’s brother.  He’s upset and wants
to get even with both his brother and Claudio, having lost to them in the
recent military “action.”  Conrade, Don
John’s buddy, asks him “why are you thus out of measure, sad.”  Don John says “my sadness is without
limit.  I cannot hide what I am.” Conrade
says “You have recently been opposed by your brother, and he hath ta’en you
newly into his grace.”  He then tells Don
John to use this time to get even.
Borachio enters.  Borachio, like
Conrade, is also Don John’s buddy.
Borachio tells him that “I overheard it agreed upon that the Prince
should woo Hero for himself, and having obtained her, give her to Count
Claudio.”  Don John replies “If I can
thwart him any way, I bless myself every way.
Let us to the great supper.  Their
cheer is the greater that I am subdued.”

Abridged Much Ado About Nothing/#4/Tricks/Act 2, Scene 1.1

Leonato’s dinner party has begun.  Leonato, Hero and Beatrice are present.  The Prince, Claudio and Benedick enter, all
in masks.  The masked Prince asks Hero to
dance.  They talk around each other. They
step aside.  A masked Benedick and Beatrice
move forward. She asks “Will you not tell me who you are?”  He says “Not now.”  She says “Signior Benedick said I was
disdainful.”  He says “What’s he?”  She says “He is the Prince’s jester, a very
dull fool.  He both pleases men and
angers them, and then they laugh at him.”
He says “When I know the gentleman, I’ll tell him what you say.”  She says “Do, do.”  They step aside.  Borachio says to Don John “And that is
Claudio.  I know him by his
bearing.”  Don John says to a masked
Claudio “Are you not Signior Benedick?”
Claudio says “I am he.”  Don John
says “Signior, my brother is enamored on Hero.
I pray you dissuade him from her.”
Claudio replies “How know you he loves her?”  Don John tells him “I heard him swear his
affection.”  Borachio jumps in, saying
“So did I too, and he swore he would marry her tonight.”  They exit.
Claudio remains and takes off his mask.
He says “Thus answer I in name of Benedick, but hear these ill news with
the ears of Claudio.  ‘Tis certain so,
the Prince woos for himself.  Farewell
therefore, Hero.”  Benedick enters,
saying “the Prince hath got your Hero.”
Claudio replies “I wish him joy of her.”
Benedick says “Did you think the Prince would have served you
thus?”  Claudio says “I pray you, leave
me.”  Claudio exits.  Benedick replays in his mind the comments
Beatrice made about him when he was masked and they were dancing.  He says “Well, I’ll be revenged as I
may.”  The Prince enters.

Abridged Much Ado About Nothing/#5/Reconcilation/Act 2, Scene 1.2

The dinner party continues.  The Prince asks Benedick “where’s the
Count?  Did you see him?”  Benedick says “I told him that your Grace had
got the goodwill of this young lady,” and that he left, and that he’s sad.  The Prince tells him he’ll straighten things
out.  The Prince tells Benedick “The Lady
Beatrice hath a quarrel to you.  The
gentleman that danced with her told her she is much wronged by you.”  Benedick says “O, she misused me past the
endurance of a block!”  He continues his
despairing comments about Beatrice.  Claudio
and Beatrice enter. Benedick says “I cannot endure my Lady Tongue.”  He exits.
The Prince says to Beatrice “You have put him down, lady.”  She says “if I would not I should prove the
mother of fools.”  The Prince turns to
Claudio and asks “Count, wherefore are you sad?”  Claudio says “Not sad, my lord.”  The Prince then says “Here, Claudio, I have
wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won.
I have broached with her father and his goodwill obtained.  Name the day of marriage, and God give thee
joy.”  Leonato adds “Count, take of me my
daughter, and with her my fortunes.”
Claudio is speechless.  He finally
says, “Lady, as you are mine, I am yours.”
Beatrice exits. The Prince says “She were an excellent wife for
Benedick.”  Leonato notes that “if they
were but a week married, they would talk themselves mad.”  Prince asks Claudio “when mean you to go the
church?”  Claudio says “Tomorrow, my
lord.”  Leonato says “Not till Monday, my
dear son, which is hence just a week.”
The Prince says to Claudio “I will in the interim undertake one of
Hercules’ labors, which is to bring Benedick and Beatrice into a mountain of
affection, th’ one with th’ other.”
Leonato, Hero and Claudio agree to help the Prince, who has asked them
to “minister such assistance as I shall give you direction.”  Prince ends the conversation, saying “And
Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that I know.”

Abridged Much Ado About Nothing/#6/Treachery/Act 2, Scene 2

Don John and Borachio did attend the “great supper” and
had agreed to be “subdued.”  The two of
them are on stage.  Don John says “The
Count Claudio shall marry the daughter of Leonato.”  Borachio adds “Yea, my lord, but I can cross
it.”  Don John says “How?  Show me how.”
Borachio says “I am in favor of Margaret, the gentlewoman to Hero.”  Don John says “I remember.”  Borachio says she will do as I ask.  He says the plan will “misuse the Prince, vex
Claudio, undo Hero, and kill Leonato.
Look you for any other issue?”
Don John essentially says what can I do to help?  The plan is to arrange to have the Prince and
Claudio beneath Hero’s chamber window the night before the wedding.  Borachio says that in Hero’s chamber, behind
thin curtains, Prince and Claudio will “hear me call Margaret ‘Hero,’ and hear
Margaret term me ‘Borachio.’  I shall
fashion that Hero shall be absent.  There
shall appear such seeming truth of Hero’s disloyalty that suspicion shall be
called certainty and all the preparation overthrown.”  Don John says “I will grow this to what
adverse issue it can. Thy fee is a thousand ducats.”  They exit.

Abridged Much Ado About Nothing/#7/Trickery/Act 2, Scene 3

Benedick is alone on stage, talking to himself about
love, noting what a fool Claudio has become, having been such a good
soldier.  He dreams of over-the-top
characteristics required in a woman, or “a woman will not come in my
grace.”  The Prince, Claudio and Leonato
enter.  Benedick hides “in the arbor.”  Aside, Prince says to Claudio “see you where
Benedick hath hid himself?”  Claudio,
aside, says “O, very well, my lord.”  The
plan is to trick Benedick.  Prince asks
Leonato “Did you tell me that your niece Beatrice was in love with
Benedick?”  Leonato says “Well, she
should dote on Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviors seems ever to abhor.”  The Prince says “Maybe she doth but
counterfeit.”  Claudio encourages them,
saying “’Tis true indeed, so your daughter says she should write to him that she
loves him.”  He says “she gets down on
her knees, weeps, sobs, tears her hair, curses ‘O sweet Benedick, God give me
patience.”  Leonato says “She does
indeed, my daughter says so.  It is very
true.”  Claudio says “To what end?  He would make but a sport of it and torment
the poor lady worse.”  They say “she is
virtuous; she is exceeding wise; O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so
tender a body.”  Prince says “I would she
had bestowed this dotage on me.”  Claudio
says “Hero thinks surely she will die, for she says she will die if he loves
her not, and she will die before she makes her love known.”  To add to the trickery, they then offer
comments that flatter Benedick.  Prince
says “Shall we go seek Benedick and tell him of her love?”  Claudio and Leonato say “Never tell
him.”  Prince says “I wish he would
examine himself to see how much he is unworthy so good a lady.”  They begin to exit.  The Prince says aside to Leonato “Let there
be the same net spread for her.  Let us
send her to call him in to dinner.” They exit.
Benedick comes forward.  He says
“This can be no trick.  They have the
truth of this from Hero; they have seen the pity of the lady.  Love me?
Why, it must be requited! The world must be peopled.”  Beatrice enters, saying “Against my will, I
am sent to bid you come in to dinner.”  Benedick
says “Fair Beatrice, I thank you.”  She
exits.  He says to himself “Ha!  ‘Against my will I am sent to bid you come to
dinner.’  There’s a double meaning in

Abridged Much Ado About Nothing/#8/Trickery/Act 3, Scene 1

Hero has two gentlewomen, Margaret and Ursula.  Hero tells Margaret “to find my cousin
Beatrice and whisper to her that Ursula and I are to walk in the orchard and
our whole discourse is all of her.  Say
thou overheardst us.  Bid her to hid in
the honeysuckle bower to listen to our purpose.”  She exits.
Hero turns to Ursula saying “Our talk must only be of Benedick.”  Beatrice enters and hides in the bower.  Hero and Ursula walk near the bower.  Hero says “No, truly, Ursula, she is too
disdainful.”  Ursula replies “But are you
sure that Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?”
Hero says “So says the Prince and my new-trothed lord.  O, god of love!  Nature never framed a woman’s heart of
prouder stuff than that of Beatrice.  Her
wit values itself so highly that to her all matter else seems weak.  She cannot love, she is so
self-endeared.”  Ursula says “It were not
good she knew his love, lest she’ll make sport at it.”  Hero says “Why, you speak truth.  But who dare tell her so?”  She goes on to say “If I should speak, she
would mock me into air.  O, she would
laugh me out of myself.  Therefore let
Benedick consume away in sighs, waste inwardly.”  Ursula says “Yet tell her of it.”  Hero comes back with “No, counsel Benedick to
fight against his passion.”  Determined
Ursula says “Signior Benedick, for shape, for bearing, argument, and valor,
goes foremost in report through Italy.”
Hero says “Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.”  Ursula changes the subject, saying “When are
you married, Madam?”  Hero replies “Why,
every day, tomorrow.”  They move away
from the bower.  Aside to Hero, Ursula
says “She’s trapped, I warrant you.  We
have caught her.”  Beatrice comes
forward.  She says “Can this be
true?  Stand I condemned for pride and
scorn so much?  Benedick, love on; I will
requite thee, taming my wild heart to thy loving hand.”

Abridged Much Ado About Nothing/#9/Deception/Act 3, Scene 2

Prince, Claudio, Benedick and Leonato are on stage.  Benedick says “Gallants, I am not as I have
been.”  Claudio says “I hope he be in
love.”  The skeptical Prince says “There
is no appearance of fancy in him.”
Leonato says “Indeed he looks younger than he did, by the loss of a
beard.”  Claudio says “That’s as much as
to say, the sweet youth’s in love.”  The
Prince says “Conclude, he is in love.”
Benedick asks Leonato to step aside, saying “I have words to speak to
you, which these hobby-horses must not hear.”
Benedick and Leonato exit.  Don
John enters and says to Prince “I would speak with you.  Yet Claudio may hear, for what I would speak
of concerns him.”  Don John says to
Claudio “Means your Lordship to be married tomorrow?”  Prince says “You know he does.”  Don John then says “I know not that, when he
knows what I know.”  Prince asks “What’s
the matter?”  Don John says “I came to
tell you; the lady is disloyal. Leonato’s Hero, your Hero, every man’s
Hero.”  Claudio says “Disloyal?”  Don John says to Claudio “Go but with me
tonight, you shall see her chamber window entered, even the night before her
wedding.  If you love her then, tomorrow
wed her.  If you dare not trust that you
see, confess not that you know.”  Claudio
says “If I see anything tonight why I should not marry her, there will I shame
her.”  Don John says “I will disparage
her no further till you are my witnesses.
Bear it coldly but till midnight, and let the issue show itself.”

Abridged Much Ado About Nothing/#10/Detention/Act 3, Scene 3

Dogberry is the Master Constable in Messina, and Verges
is his assistant.  Dogberry instructs his
senior watchman to “comprehend all vagrant men; you are to bid any man halt, in
the Prince’s name.  If you meet the
Prince in the night, you may halt him.”
Seacoal, the senior watchman, says “Well, masters, we hear our charge.”  Borachio and Conrade enter. Seacoal aside says
“Peace, stir not.”  It is a dark
night.  Borachio says “Conrade, I
say!”  Conrade says “Here, man, I am at
thy elbow.”  Borachio says “Stand thee
close. I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.  Didst thou not hear somebody?”  Conrade says “No, ‘twas the vane on the
house.”  Borachio says “Know that I have
tonight wooed Margaret by the name of Hero.
She leans me out at her mistress’ chamber window, bids me a thousand
times goodnight.  I tell this tale
vilely.  I should tell thee how the
Prince, Claudio and my master, Don John, saw afar off in the orchard this
amiable encounter.”  Conrade asks
“Thought they Margaret was Hero?”
Borachio says “Two of them did, the Prince and Claudio.  Away went Claudio enraged.”  The First Watchman says “We charge you in the
Prince’s name, halt.”  Seacoal says “Call
up the right Master Constable.”  Dogberry
says to Borachio and Conrade “Masters, we charge you, let us obey you to go
with us.”  Borachio says “We are like to
prove a goodly commodity.”  They exit.