MODERN MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING PLOT SUMMARY
In the City of Messina, Leonato, his daughter Hero, and his niece Beatrice, welcome soldiers back from war. The leader of the party and the Prince of Aragon is Don Pedro. He is one of Leonato's close friends. He brings with him his illegitimate brother Don John, as well as the nobles Claudio and Benedick. Leonato greets the party warmly and offers to let them all stay at his mansion in Messina. Beatrice and Benedick being arguing, and it becomes clear that they are rivals of a sort when it comes to wit.
After the initial meeting, Claudio reveals to Benedick and Don Pedro that he has fallen in love with the beautiful and pure Hero. Benedick is not happy as he is proud of his bachelor status, but Don Pedro approves the match and promises to help Claudio get Hero. Don Pedro will woo Hero in his name, and then ask Leonato for her hand. Several servants overhear this conversation, and report back to their masters. Leonato's servant misheard the information, so Leonato believes it is Don Pedro himself who is in love with his daughter. Borachio, a servant of Don John, brings the correct news to him. Don John is bitter at his brother and jealous of all those who are happy in their station. Because of this, he vows to stop the couple from getting together.
That night at the dance, the men enter, masked, and pair off with the women. Don Pedro begins wooing Hero and Benedick dances with Beatrice, who insults him greatly. During the confusion, Don John tells Claudio that Don Pedro is planning on taking Hero for himself, and Claudio becomes sullen. When Benedick comes to give him the news that Hero is his, Claudio leaves. Everything is cleared up when Don Pedro and Leonato tell Claudio that the marriage has been arranged. Claudio is overjoyed, and he and Hero exchange words of love.
Seeing her cousin so happy, Beatrice becomes wistful and says that she will never find a husband. Don Pedro casually proposes to her, and she cleverly turns him down. Claudio and Hero set the wedding for a week away, and Don Pedro decides that he wants to get Beatrice and Benedick to fall in love with one another. Everyone agrees to help him, and they begin to plan. After the dance, Don John is upset that his plan failed. Borachio comes up with another plan to make Claudio think that Hero is not a virgin by staging a love scene in Hero's window.
The next day, Benedick hides in the garden while his friends talk. Knowing he is there, they talk about how Beatrice is madly in love with Benedick, but he is too proud to take her. Hearing this, Benedick vows to marry Beatrice. Hero and her maids also play the same trick on Beatrice, who vows to love Benedick. Both become lovesick for each other.
The night before the wedding, Borachio is seen with Margaret, Hero's maid, who is in Hero's clothing. Don John brings Don Pedro and Claudio to see Hero's "betrayal". Instantly falling for the deception, Claudio decides to shame Hero at the altar. That night, Borachio is bragging to another accomplice about his deception when two watchmen overhear and arrest him.
The next morning, the wedding begins. Before it starts, Dogberry, the leader of the city watch, comes to Leonato with news that there are two prisoners who need to be interrogated. Not understanding, Leonato sends Dogberry off to interrogate them himself and the ceremony starts. Claudio refuses to marry Hero and calls her a slut. Hero protests, but faints from the shock. Don Pedro and Claudio leave, and the rest gather around Hero. Friar Francis is sure that Hero is innocent and comes up with a plan to pretend Hero is dead until the plot is unraveled. Everyone agrees, and Hero is taken away. Alone, Beatrice and Benedick admit their love for one another. Beatrice asks Benedick to challenge Claudio to a duel, and he agrees.
The next day, word is spread that Hero is dead. Claudio and Don Pedro believe they were right until Borachio confesses everything. They beg Leonato to punish them. Leonato tells Claudio that he must marry his brother's daughter, who looks like Hero, and Claudio agrees. The second wedding ceremony begins, and all the women are masked. After Claudio vows to marry the unknown woman, Hero unveils herself to his shock. Benedick asks for Beatrice, and the two deny their love for one another before being found out by their friends. The wedding ceremony will be a double wedding, and there is celebration and dancing.
MODERN MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING CHARACTER ANALYSIS
The main female protagonist, Beatrice is Leonato's niece. She is close to her cousin, Hero, but her sharp tongue drives others away. She and Benedict are constantly bickering and insulting each other, and seem to enjoy it quite a bit. Secretly, they are in love with one another and their friends bring this love out in the open by deceiving them into thinking the other is madly in love. Beatrice is a particularly strong willed woman and is painfully aware of the lack of freedom that her gender limits her to. After Hero is accused, Beatrice wishes she were a man so that she could take revenge on Claudio. Despite her supposed hatred of men, she happily agrees to marry Benedick.
Where Beatrice is bold and witty, Hero is modest and gentle. Claudio falls in love with her at first sight because of her modest beauty, and Hero is certainly innocent and pure. After she is accused of betraying Claudio, Hero is in such shock that she faints. In order to save her reputation, Hero agrees to fake her own death. When the scandal is revealed Hero is metaphorically "reborn" and can finally marry Claudio.
The wealthiest man in Messina, Leonato is Hero's father and Beatrice's Uncle. He cares greatly for both girls, and would do anything to secure their happiness. Leonato is old friends with Don Pedro and is the one who invites the group to stay with him after the war is over. Despite his happiness throughout the play, Leonato loses all hope after Hero is accused of sleeping with another man. He is so stricken that he wishes Hero had died rather than live with the dishonor brought on the family. He is more than willing to let Hero be reunited with Claudio after everything is solved.
One of the most eligible bachelors in Italy, Benedick is intelligent and handsome. However, he proudly proclaims that he will never fall in love or get married. Benedick and Beatrice enjoy arguing, although Benedick does get his pride hurt at a few points by Beatrice's sharp tongue. After he hears that Beatrice is madly in love with him, though, he vows to love her back and becomes quite love-stricken. While at the beginning of the play Benedick's loyalty resides with Don Pedro and Claudio, by the end he is willing to challenge Claudio at Beatrice's request, showing that he has completely changed because of his time spent in Messina.
A young but distinguished member of Don Pedro's army, Claudio is close friends with both Don Pedro and Benedick. Upon coming to Messina, he falls in love with Hero at first site. Despite proclaiming his love for Hero, Claudio is quick to distrust both his friend Don Pedro and Hero without any proof but Don John's word. He cruelly leaves Hero at the alter after shaming her in public and thereby ruining her reputation permanently. After the scandal clears, however, Claudio is more than willing to accept any punishment Leonato thinks is fair.
The Prince of Aragon, Don Pedro is a wealthy man who is good friends with Leonato, Benedick and Claudio. Throughout the play, Don Pedro does his best to help his friends with whatever problems they have. It is Don Pedro who arranged the marriage between Hero and Claudio, and Don Pedro who came up with the plan to get Benedick and Beatrice to fall in love. Despite his happy demeanor, Don Pedro sometimes seems lonely.
Don John is Don Pedro's illegitimate brother. The two were in constant discord until Don Pedro overpowered Don John, who agreed to reconcile. Despite the supposed "reconciliation", Don John still wishes his brother ill. He is jealous not only of his brother but also of anyone who has respect or happiness in their life. Because of this, he does everything he can to prevent others from attaining the happiness he does not have. He schemes to break up Hero and Claudio. When his plan fails, he flees Messina and is later captured.
Borachio is one of Don John's loyal servants. He is cunning and willing to help Don John out with his villainous schemes. Borachio sets up the scene at the window with Margaret unknowingly playing Hero and is paid a thousand gold coins by Don John. When he brags about this to Conrade in the streets, the watchmen overhear and arrest both of them. After Borachio finds out that Hero has "died", he admits everything and willingly takes whatever punishment they decide on.
Don John's other loyal servant, Conrade is also willing to help him in anything he needs. While he had nothing to do with the deception, Conrade is arrested along with Borachio by the watchmen.
One of Hero's maid servants, Margaret is also lovers with Borachio. Because of this, Margaret is tricked into perform in the deception that leads to Hero being accused. It is later determined that she is innocent of knowingly helping Borachio and Don John. Margaret is the opposite of Hero, and talks about sex blatantly to her the day before her wedding.
Another of Hero's maid servants, Ursula acts as a messenger throughout most of the play. She also plays along with Hero's deception of Beatrice in the garden. She stays true to her word and does not reveal the scheme to Beatrice.
Antonio is Leonato's brother and supports Leonato after Hero is accused. He is reprimanded by Leonato for not taking the situation seriously enough, but later tells off Don Pedro and Claudio for their behavior. Antonio agrees to pretend to marry his daughter to Claudio and walks Hero down the aisle.
Dogberry and Verges
Dogberry and Verges are the leaders of the city watch of Messina. They are the only characters in the play who are of lower social rank, and it comes through in their speech. They are somewhat idiotic and do not have good logic. They constantly mess up words and repeat things in several different ways, providing a different type of humor from the witty nobles.
The friar who married Claudio and Hero. He believes that Hero is innocent and comes up with the plan to pretend Hero is dead in order to figure out who spread the rumors about her. His plan is successful, and he agrees to perform a double marriage between Claudio and Hero and Beatrice and Benedick.
EXCERPT FROM MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING IN PLAIN AND SIMPLE ENGLISH
Scene I Before LEONATO'S House.
[Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE and others, with a Messenger.]
I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Messina.
This letter says that Don Pedro of Arragon is coming to Messina tonight.
He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off when I left him.
He is very near this place: he was less than three leagues away when I left him.
How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
How many noblemen have you lost in combat?
But few of any sort, and none of name.
Only a few of any kind, and no famous ones.
A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio.
A victory is twice as good when the person who achieves victory brings home all the soldiers. I read here that Don Pedro has given much honor to a young Florentine called Claudio.
Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered by Don Pedro. He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion: he hath indeed better bettered expectation than you must expect of me to tell you how.
He deserves the honor, and this is well-remembered by Don Pedro. He has carried himself beyond what one would expect from someone his age, and though he seems like a lamb he has the accomplishments of a lion: he has indeed done a better job exceeding expectations than you can expect me to tell you how.
He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.
He has an uncle here in Messina that will be very much glad of it.
I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much that joy could not show itself modest enough without a badge of bitterness.
I have already delivered him letters, and he seems very pleased, so much so that he could not express it without what is usually a sign of sadness.
Did he break out into tears?
Did he burst into tears?
In great measure.
A great deal.
A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than those that are so washed; how much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!
A kind overflowing of kindness. There are no faces more honest than ones washed with tears; it is much better to cry from joy than enjoy others’ crying!
I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the wars or no?
Please tell me, is Sir Mountanto returned from the wars or no?
I know none of that name, lady: there was none such in the army of any sort.
I do not know anyone with that name, lady: there was no man of any kind named that in the army.
What is he that you ask for, niece?
Who is he you are asking after, my niece?
My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
My cousin means Sir Benedick of Padua.
O! he is returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.
Oh! He has returned, and he is as pleasant as he ever was.
He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.
He stayed here for a while in Messina and challenged Cupid at the escape; and my uncle's jester, reading the challenge, took Cupid's side, and challenged him in bird hunting. Please tell me, how many has he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many has he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all the birds he killed.
Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
My goodness, niece, you ask too much of Sir Benedick; but he'll be fair with you, I have no doubt.
He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
He has served us well, lady, in these wars.
You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it; he is a very valiant trencher-man; he hath an excellent stomach.
You had a lot of food, and he hopes to eat it; he is a big eater; he has an excellent stomach.
And a good soldier too, lady.
And he is a good soldier too, lady.
And a good soldier to a lady; but what is he to a lord?
He may be a good soldier to a lady; but what is he to a lord?
A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honourable virtues.
He is a lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honorable virtues.
It is so indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man; but for the stuffing,--well, we are all mortal.
That is true; he is no less than a stuffed man; but as for the stuffing - well, we are all human.
You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her; they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them.
Sir, you must not misunderstand my niece. There is a kind of friendly rivalry between Sir Benedick and her; they never meet without a battle of cleverness between them.
Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one! so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left to be known a reasonable creature. Who is his companion now? He hath every month a new sworn brother.
Unfortunately, he gets nothing out of it. In our last conflict four of his five senses left him, and now the whole man only has one! So if he has enough intelligence left to keep himself warm, let him keep it in order to make a difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth he has left to be known as a creature of reason. Who is his companion now? Every month he has a new best friend.