The following version of Much Ado About Nothing is
based on the text in the authoritative 1914 Oxford Edition of
Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig. The text numbers the
lines, including those with stage directions such as "Enter" and
"Exit." Annotations (notes and definitions) appear in boldface
surrounded by brackets.
Benedick: Young lord from
Padua, Italy, who thinks he despises Beatrice but really loves
her. He is friendly, has a quick and witty tongue, and generally
maintains an even temperament.
Beatrice: Niece of the
governor of Messina. She thinks she despises Benedick but really
loves him. Like Benedick, she has a quick and witty tongue.
Beatrice is loyal to her friends.
Leonato: Nobleman and
governor of Messina who is the uncle of Beatrice and the father of
Don Pedro: Prince of Aragon,
a region in northeastern Spain. He led his army to victory in a
war against his brother, Don John. Don Pedro is intelligent,
confidant, diplomatic, and gallant.
Claudio: Young lord from
Florence, Italy, who distinguished himself in the war against Don
John. Claudio falls in love with Leonato's daughter, Hero. He
seems knightly and pure, but his conversations suggest that his
attraction to Hero results partly from the fact that she will one
day become a wealthy heiress.
Don John: Don Pedro's bastard
brother, a wicked fellow who was defeated by Don Pedro. Although
Don John has far fewer lines than other characters, it is his
desire for revenge against his battlefield foe, Claudio, that
causes the deception, confusion, and mix-ups that drive the plot.
Hero: Leonato's prim, proper,
beautiful, gentle, and obedient daughter. She falls in love with
Claudio but becomes the innocent victim of a plot that turns
Claudio against her. She is the cousin of Beatrice.
Margaret: Hero's attendant.
She has a penchant for speaking risqué wisecracks and witticisms.
Margaret is the girlfriend of Borachio.
Ursula: Another of Hero's
Antonio: Leonato's brother.
Balthazar: Don Pedro's
Borachio: A comrade and
cat's-paw of Don John and the boyfriend of Margaret. He is a key
participant in Don's John's scheme to ruin Hero's reputation, he
Conrade: Comrade of Don John.
Friar Francis: Priest who
helps Hero regain her reputation.
Dogberry: Constable of
Messina. He is memorable as a comic character for his bumbling
manner and ludicrous malapropisms. A malapropism is the
unintentional misuse of a word as a result of confusing its
pronunciation with that of another word.
Verges: Headborough and
sidekick of Dogberry.
Hugh Oatcake, George Seacoal: The only two
of Dogberry's men who can read and write.
Sexton: Man who helps
Dogberry and his police force to expose the plot against Hero.
Boy: Errand boy for Benedick.
Minor Characters: Messengers,
Protagonists: Benedick and
Beatrice, arguably, because they are both real, hotblooded
characters who are far more interesting than the other protagonist
candidates, Claudio and Hero. The latter two are less animated,
rather shallow characters, who idealize courtly love.
Antagonists: Don John;
mix-ups and misconceptionsText
Text of Much Ado About Nothing
Annotations by Michael J. Cummings
Act 1, Scene 1: Before Leonato's
Act 1, Scene 2: A room in Leonato's
Act 1, Scene 3: Another room in
Act 2, Scene 1: A hall in Leonato's
Act 2, Scene 2: Another room in
Act 2, Scene 3: Leonato's garden.
Act 3, Scene 1: Leonato's garden.
Act 3, Scene 2: A room in Leonato's
Act 3, Scene 3: A street.
Act 3, Scene 4: A room in Leonato's
Act 3, Scene 5: Another room in
Act 4, Scene 1: The inside of a
Act 4, Scene 2: A prison.
Act 5, Scene 1: Before Leonato's
Act 5, Scene 2: Leonato's garden.
Act 5, Scene 3: The inside of a
Act 5, Scene 4: A room in Leonato's
Act 1, Scene 1
Before Leonato's house.
Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE and others, with a Messenger.
LEONATO: I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon [Aragon] comes this night to
MESSENGER: He is very near by this: he was not three leagues [9 miles, or 4.82 kilometers]
off when I left him.
LEONATO: How many gentlemen have you lost in this action [fighting]?
MESSENGER: But few of any sort, and none of name. [Only a few with a high rank, and none
from the nobility.]
LEONATO: A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings
home full numbers [all his men].
I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young
Florentine [native or resident of
Florence, Italy] called Claudio.
MESSENGER: 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
[Much deserved . . . you how:
Claudio certainly deserves praise, and Don Pedro will remember how
well he did. Though young, Claudio performed like a seasoned
veteran. He was a lamb who fought like a lion. In fact, he
performed so well that I lack words to describe his feats.]
LEONATO: He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much
glad of it.
MESSENGER: 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
[joy could . . . bitterness: His
uncle's joy was so great that he could not help weeping.]
LEONATO: Did he break out into tears?
MESSENGER: In great measure.
LEONATO: 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!
BEATRICE: I pray you is Signior Mountanto returned from the
wars or no?
[Mountanto: Montanto or montant, a
fencing term for an upward thrust of a sword. Signior Mountanto means Mr. Mountanto, a title that Beatrice uses to refer
to Benedick. It has a measure of ridicule in it. It is as if she
is calling him Mr. Big Shot.]
MESSENGER: I know none of that name, lady: there was none such
in the army of any
LEONATO: What is he that you ask for, niece?
HERO: My cousin means Signior Benedick of
MESSENGER: O! he is returned, and as pleasant as ever he
BEATRICE: 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.
set up . . . killing: He posted notices here in Messina
challenging Cupid to an archery contest. My uncle's jester took
up the challenge on behalf of Cupid but proposed that birdbolts
(blunted arrowheads) be used in the contest. Anyway, tell me how
many Benedick killed in battle and eaten? I promised him I would
eat everyone that he killed.]
LEONATO: Faith, niece, you tax [criticize] Signior Benedick too much; but he’ll be
meet with [do the same to]
you, I doubt it
[Cupid: In classical mythology,
the Roman name for the Greek god of love, Eros. Cupid was
despicted as an archer whose arrows "wounded" young men and
women with love.]
MESSENGER: He hath done good service, lady, in these
BEATRICE: You had musty victual [you must have eaten bad food], and he hath holp [has helped] to eat it: he is a
very valiant trencherman [eater];
he hath an excellent stomach.
MESSENGER: And a good soldier too, lady.
BEATRICE: And a good soldier to [compared to] a lady; but what is he to a
MESSENGER: A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed with all
BEATRICE: It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man;
but for the stuffing [but as to
the stuffing],—well, we are all mortal [well, we all have our faults].
LEONATO: You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind
of merry war betwixt [between]
Signior Benedick and her: they never meet but there’s a skirmish of
wit between them.
BEATRICE: Alas! he gets nothing by that [he always comes up short]. In
our last conflict four of his five wits went halting [limping] 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.
[if he have . . . brother: If he is
smart enough to keep himself warm, that's the only difference
between him and his horse. He has only enough intelligence left to
pass as a human being. Who's his best buddy now? Every month he
has a new sworn brother.]
MESSENGER: Is ’t possible?
BEATRICE: Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the
fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next
[he wears . . . block: His loyalty changes as fast as the fashion of
his hat. As soon as the hatmaker gets another wooden block to shape
a new hat, Benedick buys the hat.]
MESSENGER: I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books [not a favorite of yours in your book].
BEATRICE: No; an [if]
he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his
companion? Is there no young squarer [disputant; quarreler] now that will make [that is loyal enough to him to make]
a voyage with him to the devil?
MESSENGER: He is most in the company of the right noble
BEATRICE: O Lord! he [Claudio]
will hang upon him like a disease: he [Benedick] is sooner caught than the pestilence, and
the taker [infected person]
runs presently [goes immediately]
mad. God help the noble Claudio! if he have caught the Benedick, it
will cost him a thousand pound ere a’ [before he] be cured.
MESSENGER: I will hold friends with you, lady. [I will try to remain on your good
side, lady. (Because the messenger realizes that Beatrice has a
sharp and witty tongue, he won't do anything to arouse her ire.)]
BEATRICE: Do, good friend.
LEONATO: You will never run mad, niece. [You will never catch Benedick's
pestilence and go mad, niece.]
BEATRICE: No, not till a hot January.
MESSENGER: Don Pedro is approached.
Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHAZAR, and
DON PEDRO: Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your
trouble [the burden and expense of
hosting me and my men]: the fashion of the world is to
avoid cost [such trouble],
and you encounter [welcome]
LEONATO: Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of
your Grace, for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but when
you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness takes his
DON PEDRO: You embrace your charge [your burden] too
willingly. I think this is your daughter.
LEONATO: Her mother hath many times told me
BENEDICK: Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked
LEONATO: Signior Benedick, no; for then you were a
[Her mother hath . . . a child:
Leonato is joking when he says that his wife has assured him (line
44) that Hero was not fathered by another man. After Benedick
plays along in line 45, Leonato replies that Benedick could not
have been the father; for he was only a child when Hero was
DON PEDRO: You have it full, Benedick: we may guess by this
what you are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers herself. Be
happy, lady, for you are like an honourable
[You have . . . father: His answer
topped your question, Benedick. It showed what kind of man you are
with the ladies. But as for Hero, one can tell that she is
Leonato's daughter, for she looks so much like him. Be happy,
lady, that you look like your honorable father.]
BENEDICK: If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not have
his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she
BEATRICE: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
Benedick: nobody marks [notices;
listens to] you.
BENEDICK: What! my dear Lady Disdain, are you yet
BEATRICE: Is it possible Disdain should die while she hath
such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must
convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.
BENEDICK: Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am
loved of [by] all ladies,
only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had
not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none.
BEATRICE: A dear happiness to women: they would else [otherwise] have been troubled
with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of
your humour for that [I am
grateful that I also love no one]: I had rather hear my dog
bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.
BENEDICK: God keep your ladyship still in that mind; so some
gentleman or other shall ’scape a predestinate scratched
[God keep . . . face: May God
preserve your man-hating state of mind so that no gentleman will
get close enough to you to get a scratched face.]
BEATRICE: Scratching could not make it worse, an [if] ’twere such a face as yours
BENEDICK: Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher. [You'd make a good teacher for a
parrot, since you keep saying the same things over and over.]
BEATRICE: A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
[A bird that speaks what I say is
better than a beast that speaks what you say.]
BENEDICK: I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and
so good a continuer. [I wish my
horse had the speed and endurance of your tongue.] But keep
your way, i’ God’s name; I have done.
BEATRICE: You always end with a jade’s trick: I know you of
[jade: Old, worn-out horse.
Beatrice is saying that Benedick always ends their verbal jousting
by collapsing like a tired old horse.]
DON PEDRO: This is the sum of all, Leonato: Signior Claudio,
and Signior Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all. I
tell him we shall stay here at the least a month, and he heartily
prays some occasion may detain us longer: I dare swear he is no
hypocrite, but prays from his
LEONATO: If you swear, my lord, you shall not be
forsworn. [To DON JOHN.] Let me bid you welcome, my
lord: being reconciled to the prince your brother, I owe you all
DON JOHN: I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank
LEONATO: Please it your Grace lead on?
DON PEDRO: Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.
[Exeunt all but BENEDICK and CLAUDIO.
Stage direction indicating that two or more characters—or all
characters—leave the stage.]
CLAUDIO: Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior
BENEDICK: I noted her not; but I looked on
CLAUDIO: Is she not a modest young lady?
BENEDICK: Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for
my simple true judgment; or would you have me speak after my custom,
as being a professed tyrant to their sex?
CLAUDIO: No; I pray thee speak in sober
BENEDICK: Why, i’ faith, methinks she’s too low for a high
praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great
praise: only this commendation I can afford her, that were she other
than she is, she were unhandsome, and being no other but as she is,
I do not like
CLAUDIO: Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me
truly how thou likest her. [Now
don't joke around. Tell me what you really think of her.]
BENEDICK: Would you buy her, that you inquire after
CLAUDIO: Can the world buy such a jewel?
BENEDICK: Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this
with a sad brow, or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid
is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come, in what
key shall a man take you, to go in the song?
[But speak . . . song: Are you
being serious or just fooling around, like a knave, as if to tell
me that Cupid can spot a hare at some distance and that Vulcan is
a skilled carpenter? (In classical mythology, Cupid, the god of
love, was sometimes depicted in artworks as blindfolded; Vulcan
was the blacksmith god, not a carpenter.) So come on, tell me
what's on your mind.]
CLAUDIO: In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I
BENEDICK: I can see yet without spectacles and I see no such
matter: there’s her cousin [Beatrice]
an [if] she were not
possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty as the first of
May doth the last of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn
husband, have you?
CLAUDIO: I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn to
the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
BENEDICK: Is ’t come to this, i’ faith? Hath not the world one
man but he will wear his cap with suspicion? [Isn't there one man left who will stay
single so that he won't have to wonder whether his wife has been
unfaithful?] Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score [of age sixty] again? Go to, i’
faith; an [if] thou wilt
needs thrust thy neck into a yoke [bar
attached to the necks of a team of oxen and hitched to a cart,
plow, etc.], wear the print [imprint of the yoke] of it, and sigh away Sundays.
Look! Don Pedro is returned to seek you.
Re-enter DON PEDRO.
DON PEDRO: What secret hath held you here, that you followed
BENEDICK: I would your Grace would constrain [force] me to
DON PEDRO: I charge [command]
thee on thy allegiance.
BENEDICK: You hear, Count Claudio: I can be secret as a dumb
man; I would have you think so; but on my allegiance, mark you this,
on my allegiance: he is in love. With who? now that is your Grace’s
part. Mark how short his answer is: with Hero, Leonato’s short
CLAUDIO: If this were so, so were it
BENEDICK: Like the old tale, my lord: "it is not so, not ’twas
not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be
CLAUDIO: If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it
should be otherwise.
DON PEDRO: Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well
CLAUDIO: You speak this to fetch me in, my lord. [You're trying to trick me, my lord.]
DON PEDRO: By my troth [truly],
I speak my thought.
CLAUDIO: And in faith, my lord, I spoke
BENEDICK: And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke
CLAUDIO: That I love her, I feel.
DON PEDRO: That she is worthy, I know.
BENEDICK: That I neither feel how she should be loved nor know
how she should be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out
of me: I will die in it at the stake.
[That I neither . . . stake: I find
it difficult to believe that she could be loved or could be
worthy. Set fire to me but I won't change my opinion. I would
rather die at the stake.]
DON PEDRO: Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite
of beauty. [You never did believe
that a woman's beauty could captivate a man.]
CLAUDIO: And never could maintain his part but in the force of
his will. [And never could stand
his ground with sound reason instead of bullying tactics.]
BENEDICK: That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she
brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks: but that I
will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an
invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me. Because I will not do
them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust
none; and the fine is,—for the which I may go the finer,—I will live
[but that I . . . bachelor:
But I will never put myself in the position of a husband whose
wife is unfaithful to him. Because I will never do women the
injustice of mistrusting any of them, I will give myself the right
of trusting none of them. The point is that I will go on living as
DON PEDRO: I shall see thee, ere [before] I die, look [turn] pale with love.
BENEDICK: With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord;
not with love: prove that ever I lose more blood with love than I
will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a
balladmaker’s pen, and hang me up at the door of a brothel-house for
the sign of blind Cupid.
[With anger . . . Cupid: I
may become pale with anger, sickness, or hunger—but never with
love. If you can prove that I look pale because of love
instead of drinking too much, pick out my eyes with a
balladmaker's pen and hang me up as a Cupid sign on the door of a
DON PEDRO: Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou
wilt prove a notable
[Well . . . argument: Well, if you
fail to live up to this vow, you will become a notable example of
men who surrendered to love.]
BENEDICK: If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot at
me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and
[If I do . . . Adam: Archers
sometimes placed a cat in a wicker basket or a barrel and used it
as a target. Adam is apparently a reference to the legendary
English archer, Adam Bell, who was believed to be as skillful an
archer as Robin Hood.]
DON PEDRO: Well, as time shall try:
"In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke."
["In time . . . yoke":
Quotation from The Spanish
Tragedy, by Thomas Kyd (1558-1594). The quotation says
that eventually even a savage bull is tamed. Benedick will also be
tamed, by love, Don Pedro maintains.]
BENEDICK: The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible
Benedick bear it [bear the burden
of love], pluck off the bull’s horns and set them in my
forehead; and let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as
they write, "Here is good horse to hire," let them signify under my
sign "Here you may see Benedick the married man."
[pluck off .
. . forehead: A husband whose wife was unfaithful was called a
cuckold. A cuckold was sometimes depicted in artworks as having
horns on his head. Benedick is saying here that if he married, his
wife's infidelity would make him a cuckold. He would then be
depicted in a painting as having horns.]
CLAUDIO: If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad
[your wife's infidelity would make
you go insane].
DON PEDRO: Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver [arrows] in Venice, thou wilt
quake for this shortly [you will
soon shake with the fever of love].
BENEDICK: I look for an earthquake too then.
DON PEDRO: Well, you will temporize with the hours. [Well, you are merely biding time until
love catches up with you.] In the meantime, good Signior
Benedick, repair [go] to
Leonato’s: commend me to him and tell him I will not fail him at
supper; for indeed he hath made great preparation.
BENEDICK: I have almost matter enough in me for such an
embassage; and so I commit you—
CLAUDIO: To the tuition of God: from my house, if I had
DON PEDRO: The sixth of July: your loving friend,
[lines 109-111: Benedick says he
will report Don Pedro's message to Leonato. Then he begins to say
good-bye as if concluding a letter ("and so I commit you—").
Claudio interrupts to complete Benedick's conclusion: "to the
tuition of God". ("I commit you to the tuition of God" was a way
of saying farewell, similar to "Go with God," "adieu," or "vaya
con dios." Literally, the words mean "I commit you to the
guardianship of God.") Don Pedro completes the imaginary letter by
adding the date and complimentary close.]
BENEDICK: Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your
discourse is sometime [sometimes]
guarded with fragments, and the guards are but slightly basted on
neither: ere [before] you
flout old ends any further, examine your conscience: and so I leave
[Nay . . . leave you: Don't mock
me. By the way, what you say sometimes contains fragments of wit
stitched together, but they pull apart too easily. Before you
stitch together any more fragments of old wit to mock someone, you
ought to take a look at yourselves to see who really deserves
CLAUDIO: My liege, your highness now may do me
[My liege . . . good: My lord, I
need your assistance.]
DON PEDRO: My love is thine to teach: teach it but
And thou shalt see how apt it is to
Any hard lesson that may do thee good.
[My love . . . good: My love is
yours to call upon. Just tell me how I can help you, and I will
CLAUDIO: Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
DON PEDRO: No child but Hero; she’s his only heir.
[Hath Leonato . . . heir: Claudio
asks whether Leonato has any son who will inherit his father's
money and property. Don Pedro answers that Hero is an only child
and is therefore the sole heir. It was not uncommon in the
Elizabethan Age for a young man to inquire about a young lady's
future financial assets before deciding to woo her.]
Dost thou affect [like]
CLAUDIO: O! my
When you went onward on this ended action,
I looked upon her with a soldier’s eye,
That lik’d, but had a rougher task in hand
Than to drive liking to the name of love;
[When you . . . of love: When we
went to war, I looked at her with a soldier's eye. I liked her but
was too preoccupied with preparing for battle to turn liking her
into loving her.]
But now I am return’d, and that
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying, I lik’d her ere I went to wars.
[But now . . . to wars: But now
that I have returned, all thoughts of war have vanished. What
occupies my mind are soft and delicate desires that prompt me to
acknowledge how beautiful young Hero is. How right I was to like
her before I went to war.]
DON PEDRO: Thou wilt be like a lover
And tire the hearer with a book of words.
[Thou . . . words: You will soon
act like a lover and tire your listeners with endless praise of
If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
And I will break with her, and with her father,
And thou shalt have her. Was ’t not to this end
That thou began’st to twist so fine a
[If thou . . . story: If you love
fair Hero, prize that love. Meanwhile, I will break the news to
Hero and her father so that you may court her. Wasn't this the
reason you told me of your feelings for her?]
CLAUDIO: How sweetly do you minister to
That know love’s grief by his complexion!
But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
I would have salv’d it with a longer treatise.
[How sweetly . . . treatise: How
kind it is of you to help me—you who understand the pangs of love
that I am experiencing. But I don't want you to think I am acting
too hastily in this matter. Maybe I should have given you a longer
explanation of why I love her.]
DON PEDRO: What need the bridge much broader than the
The fairest grant is the necessity.
[What need . . . necessity: There
is no need to lengthen a bridge that already spans the river. In
other words, you have already told me enough. The best thing I can
do for you now is to assist you, when the necessity of expressing
your feelings for Hero tug at you.]
Look, what will serve is fit: ’tis once, thou
And I will fit thee with the remedy.
[Look . . . remedy: Look, whatever
I can do to help will be appropriate. It was enough for me to hear
you say that you love Hero. All right, I will do what I can to get
the two of you together.]
I know we shall have revelling to-night:
I will assume thy part in some
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio;
And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heart,
And take her hearing prisoner with the force
And strong encounter of my amorous tale:
[And take . . . amorous tale:
And capture her attention with the power of a love story]
Then, after to her father will I
And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
In practice let us put it presently. [Exeunt.
[Then . . . presently: Then
afterward I will speak with her father about you and Hero, and she
shall be yours. Now let's put this plan in motion.]
Act 1, Scene 2
A room in Leonato's house.
Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, meeting.
LEONATO: How now, brother! Where is my cousin [nephew], your son? Hath he
provided this music [for the
ANTONIO: He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell
you strange news that you yet dreamt not of.
LEONATO: Are they good? [Is
it good news?]
ANTONIO: As the event stamps them: but they have a good cover;
they show well outward. [As the
event . . . outward: We won't know that until later. But at first
glance the news looks good.] The prince and Count Claudio,
walking in a thick-pleached alley [walkway
lined with intertwining branches or vines] in my orchard,
were thus much overheard by a man of mine: the prince discovered [revealed] to Claudio that he [Don Pedro] loved my niece your
daughter, and meant to acknowledge it this night in a dance; and, if
he found her accordant [receptive;
pleased], he meant to take the present time by the top and
instantly break with you of it [inform
you of it].
LEONATO: Hath the fellow any wit [intelligence] that told you this?
ANTONIO: A good sharp fellow: I will send for him; and
question him yourself.
LEONATO: No, no; we will hold it as a dream till it appear
itself: but I will acquaint my daughter withal [with everything], that she may
be the better prepared for an answer, if peradventure [by chance] this be true. Go
you, and tell her of it.
Enter ANTONIO'S son with a musician and attendants.
Cousins, you know what you have to do. O! I cry you mercy, friend;
go you with me, and I will use your skill. Good cousin, have a care
this busy time. [Exeunt.
Act 1, Scene 3
Another room in Leonato's house.
Enter DON JOHN and CONRADE.
CONRADE: What the good-year, my lord! why are you thus out of
measure sad? [What's going on, my
lord? Why are you so sad?]
DON JOHN: There is no measure in the occasion that breeds;
therefore the sadness is without limit. [What caused my sadness is boundless. Thus, my sadness is
CONRADE: You should hear [listen
DON JOHN: And when I have heard it, what blessing brings
CONRADE: If not a present remedy, at least a patient
sufferance [at least the strength
to bear it patiently].
DON JOHN: I wonder that thou, being,—as thou say’st thou
art,—born under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral medicine to a
mortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I
have cause, and smile at no man’s jests; eat when I have stomach,
and wait for no man’s leisure; sleep when I am drowsy, and tend on
no man’s business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no man in his
[I wonder . . . in his humour: I
wonder why you are preaching to me about how to cure my sadness
when you yourself were born under the influence of Saturn and
therefore tend to be melancholy. I cannot hide what I am—the
bastard brother of a prince. I am sad when I have cause and will
not smile at any man's jokes. I eat when I am hungry and will not
wait for the socially approved hour. When I am drowsy, I will
sleep and will not get up to attend to any man's business. I will
laugh when I am merry but will not flatter anyone.]
CONRADE: Yea; but you must not make the full show of this till
you may do it without controlment. You have of late stood out
against your brother, and he hath ta’en you newly into his grace;
where it is impossible you should take true root but by the fair
weather that you make yourself: it is needful that you frame the
season for your own harvest.
[Yea; but . . . harvest: I
understand. But you must restrain yourself until you are sure you
can do what you want without causing yourself problems. You
recently rebelled against your brother. Thankfully, though, he has
taken you back into his good graces. If you're having problems,
root yourself in the goodwill of your brother until the time is
right for you to act boldly.]
DON JOHN: I had rather be a canker [disease] in a hedge than a rose in his grace; and
it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a
carriage to rob love from any [I'd
rather be disdained by all than to bow to anyone]: in this,
though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not
be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a
muzzle and enfranchised with a clog [people trust me only when I wear a muzzle and have a
weight attached to my leg]; therefore I have decreed not to
sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my
liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime, let me be that I am,
and seek not to alter
CONRADE: Can you make no use of your discontent?
DON JOHN: I make all use of it, for I use it only. [Yes, I use it, for it is the only
thing I use.] Who comes here?
What news, Borachio?
BORACHIO: I came yonder from a great supper: the prince, your
brother, is royally entertained by Leonato; and I can give you
intelligence [a report] of
DON JOHN: Will it serve for any model to build mischief on?
What is he for a fool that betroths himself to
[Will it . . . unquietness: Will
this development provide me any opportunity to cause trouble? Who
is the fool who plans to marry a noisy woman?]
BORACHIO: Marry [by the Virgin Mary], it is your
brother’s right hand.
DON JOHN: Who? the most exquisite Claudio?
BORACHIO: Even he.
DON JOHN: A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks
BORACHIO: Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of
DON JOHN: A very forward March-chick! [Why she's practically a child!]
How came you to this? [How did you
find this out?]
BORACHIO: Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was smoking a
musty room, comes me the prince and Claudio, hand in hand, in sad
conference: I whipt me behind the arras, and there heard it agreed
upon that the prince should woo Hero for himself, and having
obtained her, give her to Count Claudio.
[Being entertained . . . Count
Claudio: I was hired to perfume the rooms. While I was smoking up
one room with incense, Don Pedro and Claudio came by talking in
serious tones. So I quickly hid behind a tapestry and heard them
say that Don Pedro would woo Hero and then give her to Count
DON JOHN: Come, come; let us thither [let us go there]: this may
prove food to my displeasure [this
may be my opportunity to cause trouble]. That young
start-up [upstart] hath all
the glory of my overthrow [of
overthrowing me in my fight with my brother]: if I can
cross him any way, I bless myself every way. You are both sure, and
will assist me?
CONRADE, BORACHIO: To the death, my
DON JOHN: Let us to the great supper: their cheer is the
greater that I am subdued. Would the cook were of my mind! Shall we
go prove what’s to be done?
[Let's . . . done: Let's go to the
great supper. They are in high spirits because they have subdued
me. Too bad the cook doesn't think like me. If he did, he would
poison the food. Shall we go discover what's to be done?]
BORACHIO: We’ll wait upon your lordship. [Exeunt.
Act 2, Scene 1
A hall in Leonato's house.
Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and Others.
LEONATO: Was not Count John here at supper?
And. I saw him not.
BEATRICE: How tartly [sour]
that gentleman looks! I never can see him but I am heart-burned an
HERO: He is of a very melancholy disposition.
BEATRICE: He were an excellent man that were made just in the
mid-way between him and Benedick: the one is too like an image, and
says nothing; and the other too like my lady’s eldest son, evermore
[He were . . . tattling: An
excellent man would be midway between Don John and Benedick: the
one is like a statue and says nothing; the other is like my lady's
oldest son, who never stops talking.]
LEONATO: Then half Signior Benedick’s tongue in Count John’s
mouth, and half Count John’s melancholy in Signior Benedick’s
BEATRICE: With a good leg a spring in his step and a good foot
[with good looks and a spring in
his step], uncle, and money enough in his purse, such a man
would win any woman in the world, if a’ [he] could get her good will.
LEONATO: By my troth [truly],
niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband, if thou be so shrewd of [sharp with] thy
ANTONIO: In faith, she’s too curst [bad-tempered].
BEATRICE: Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God’s
sending that way; for it is said, ‘God sends a curst cow short
horns;’ but to a cow too curst he sends none.
[Too curst . . . none: To be too
bad-tempered is to be more than just bad-tempered. Therefore, God
won't punish me. As the old saying goes, "God sends a bad-tempered
cow short horns." But if I am too bad-tempered, God won't send me
any horns at all. (Horns may be a phallic symbol, representing the
LEONATO: So, by being too curst, God will send you no
BEATRICE: Just, if he send me no husband; for the which
blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and evening. Lord!
I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face: I had rather
lie in the woollen.
[Just . . . woollen: That's right.
And if God sends me no husband, I will be forever grateful. Lord!
I could not endure a husband with a beard. I'd rather sleep with a
LEONATO: You may light on a husband that hath no
BEATRICE: What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel
and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more
than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he
that is more than a youth is not for me; and he that is less than a
man, I am not for him: therefore I will even take sixpence in
earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his apes into hell.
[therefore I will . . . hell:
Therefore I would rather take a payment of sixpence from an animal
keeper and lead his apes into hell.]
LEONATO: Well then, go you into hell?
BEATRICE: No; but to the gate; and there will the devil meet
me, like an old cuckold [see pluck off], with horns on his head,
and say, "Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven; here’s no
place for you maids": so deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint
Peter for the heavens; he shows me where the bachelors sit, and
there live we as merry as the day is long.
ANTONIO: [To HERO.] Well, niece, I trust you will be
ruled by your father [your
father's choice of a husband].
BEATRICE: Yes, faith; it is my cousin’s duty to make curtsy,
and say, ‘Father, as it please you:’—but yet for all that, cousin,
let him be a handsome fellow, or else make another curtsy, and say,
‘Father, as it please
LEONATO: Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a
BEATRICE: Not till God make men of some other metal than
earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be over-mastered with a piece
of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward
marl [mixture of clay, minerals,
and other elements]? No, uncle, I’ll none: Adam’s sons are
my brethren; and truly, I hold it a sin to match in my
[Adam's sons . . . kindred: The
Bible (Genesis 2:7) says that Adam was made of the dust of the
earth. Therefore, Adam's sons—Cain, Abel, Seth, and the rest of
mankind—were also made of dust. Beatrice says that she will not
marry a man made of earth. She also says that Adam's sons are her
relatives and that it would be a sin to marry a relative.]
LEONATO: [To Hero.] Daughter, remember what I told you: if the
prince do solicit you in that kind [if
the prince asks to marry you], you know your
BEATRICE: The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be
not wooed in good time: if the prince be too important, tell him
there is measure in everything, and so dance out the answer. For,
hear me, Hero: wooing, wedding, and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, a
measure, and a cinque-pace: the first suit is hot and hasty, like a
Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest,
as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes
Repentance, and, with his bad legs, falls into the cinque-pace
faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.
[The fault . . . his grave:
Beatrice compares courtship to music. She tells Hero that the
prince must court her by keeping "good time"—the beat, the rhythm,
and so on. If he tries to speed things up—that is, if he tries to
hurry the romance—Hero should tell him he is going too fast,
Beatrice says. Beatrice then tells Hero that "wooing, wedding, and
repenting" are like a Scotch jig (a leaping and kicking dance) and
a cinque-pace (the first five steps of a stately dance). The first
dance, wooing, is "hot and hasty," like the Scotch jig. The second
dance, the wedding, is dignified and traditional, like the
cinque-pace. The third dance, repenting, is a hobble, with short,
quick steps that lead to the grave.]
LEONATO: Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly. [You understand things with superior
BEATRICE: I have a good eye, uncle: I can see a church by
daylight. [I can see what is easy
LEONATO: The revellers are entering, brother: make good
Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHAZAR, DON JOHN, BORACHIO,
MARGARET, URSULA, and Others, masked.
DON PEDRO: Lady, will you walk about with your friend [with
HERO: So [if] you
walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing, I am yours for the
walk; and especially when I walk
DON PEDRO: With me in your company?
HERO: I may say so, when I please.
DON PEDRO: And when please you to say so?
HERO: When I like your favour; for God defend the lute should
be like the case!
[When I . . . face: I will say so
if I like your face. I hope it isn't as ugly as the mask covering
DON PEDRO: My visor is Philemon’s roof; within the house is
[Philemon: In classical mythology,
a peasant of Phrygia (in present-day Turkey) who received a reward
after hosting in his humble home the disguised king of the gods.
The Romans called this god Jove, or Jupiter; the Greeks called him
HERO: Why, then, your visor should be thatch’d [as in thatched roof].
DON PEDRO: Speak low, if you speak love. [Takes her
BALTHAZAR: Well, I would you did like me.
MARGARET: So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many
ill qualities. [I wish you
wouldn't, for I have many bad qualities.]
BALTHAZAR: Which is
MARGARET: I say my prayers aloud.
BALTHAZAR: I love you the better; the hearers may cry
MARGARET: God match me with a good dancer!
MARGARET: And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is
done! Answer, clerk.
[Answer, clerk: Say amen again,
clerk. (In the Church of England, the pastor recited the prayers
and the parish clerk recited the responses.)]
BALTHAZAR: No more words: the clerk is answered.
URSULA: I know you well enough: you are Signior
ANTONIO: At a word, I am not.
URSULA: I know you by the waggling [shaking; wobbling] of your head.
ANTONIO: To tell you true, I counterfeit [pretend to be]
URSULA: You could never do him so ill-well, unless you were
the very man. Here’s his [he has
a] dry hand up and down: you are he, you are
ANTONIO: At a word, I am not.
URSULA: Come, come; do you think I do not know you by your
excellent wit? Can virtue hide itself? Go to, mum, you are he:
graces will appear, and there’s an end.
[Come . . . end: Ursula is mocking
Antonio when she says he can't hide his "excellent wit," for
Antonio has not exhibited any outstanding wit in his short
BEATRICE: Will you not tell me who told you so?
BENEDICK: No, you shall pardon
BEATRICE: Nor will you not tell me who you are?
BENEDICK: Not now.
BEATRICE: That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit
out of The Hundred Merry Tales.
Well, this was Signior Benedick that said so.
[That I was . . . said so: You
said that I was disdainful and that I took my jests out of The Hundred Merry
Tales. Well, only Signior
Benedick would say such things. (The Hundred Merry Tales was a book of jests and anecdotes
published in 1526.)]
BENEDICK: What’s he?
BEATRICE: I am sure you know him well
BENEDICK: Not I, believe me.
BEATRICE: Did he never make you laugh?
BENEDICK: I pray you, what [who]
BEATRICE: Why, he is the prince’s jester: a very dull fool;
only his gift [his only gift]
is in devising impossible slanders: none but libertines delight in
him; and the commendation is not in his wit, but in his villany [insulting manner]; for he both
pleases men and angers them, and then they laugh at him and beat
him. I am sure he is in the fleet [in
this room]: I would he had boarded me [I wish he had tried to attack me with
his insults! I'd show him a thing or two].
BENEDICK: When I know the gentleman, I’ll tell him what you
BEATRICE: Do, do: he’ll but break a comparison or two on me;
which, peradventure not marked or not laughed at, strikes him into
melancholy; and then there’s a partridge wing saved, for the fool
will eat no supper that night. [Music within.] We must
follow the leaders.
. . . that night: Do so. He'll make a jest or two about me. But,
because no one will laugh at him or pay attention to him, he
will become sad and depressed. Then he will lose his appetite,
so a partridge wing will be saved.]
BENEDICK: In every good thing.
[Music within: Stage direction
indicating that music is being played offstage.]
BEATRICE: Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at
the next turning. [Dance. Then exeunt
all but DON JOHN, BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO.
DON JOHN: Sure my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath
withdrawn her father to break [speak]
with him about it. The ladies follow her and but one visor [masked person]
BORACHIO: And that is Claudio: I know him by his
DON JOHN: Are you not Signior Benedick?
CLAUDIO: You know me well; I am he.
DON JOHN: Signior, you are very near my brother in his love:
he is enamoured on Hero; I pray you, dissuade him from her; she is
no equal for his birth [she is
below him in rank]: you may do the part of an honest man in
CLAUDIO: How know you he loves her?
DON JOHN: I heard him swear his
BORACHIO: So did I too; and he swore he would marry her
DON JOHN: Come, let us to the banquet. [Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO.
CLAUDIO: 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. [The prince has betrayed me by deciding
to woo Hero for himself.]
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love:
Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues [Everyone in love should speak for
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent [go-between];
for beauty is a
Against whose charms faith [loyalty
to a friend] melteth into blood [passion for the beloved].
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!
CLAUDIO: Yea, the same.
BENEDICK: Come, will you go with me?
CLAUDIO: Whither? [Where?]
BENEDICK: Even to the next willow [symbol of lost love], about your own business,
count. What fashion will you wear the garland of? [How will you wear the willow garland?]
About your neck, like a usurer’s chain [like the expensive chain of a moneylender]? or
under your arm, like a lieutenant’s scarf?[or draped across your chest like a lieutenant's scarf]
You must wear it one way, for the prince hath got your
CLAUDIO: I wish him joy of
BENEDICK: Why, that’s spoken like an honest drovier [cattle dealer or herdsman]: so
they sell bullocks [castrated
bulls]. But did you think the prince would have served you
CLAUDIO: I pray you, leave me.
BENEDICK: Ho! now you strike like the blind man: ’twas the boy
that stole your meat, and you’ll beat the post. [Someone wronged you, but you are
lashing out at me.]
CLAUDIO: If it will not be, I’ll leave you. [If you won't leave, I will.]
BENEDICK: Alas! poor hurt fowl. Now will he creep into sedges.
But, that my lady Beatrice should know me, and not know me! [As to Beatrice, she knew my identity
but pretended not to know me.] The prince’s fool [court jester]! Ha! it may be I
go under that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I am apt to do
myself wrong; I am not so reputed: it is the base though bitter
disposition of Beatrice that puts the world into her person, and so
gives me out. Well, I’ll be revenged as I
[Yea, but . . . as I may: However,
I do myself wrong. I am not the prince's court jester. It is the
bitter Beatrice who says that I am, pretending to speak for all
the world. Well, I'll get back at her.]
Re-enter DON PEDRO.
DON PEDRO: Now, signior, where’s the count? Did you see
BENEDICK: Troth [Truly],
my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame. [I have told him about a story going
around.] I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a
warren. [I found him here as
melancholy as a rabbit confined to his lonlely hole.] I
told him, and I think I told him true, that your Grace had got the
good will of this young lady; and I offered him my company to a
willow tree [and I offered to keep
him company while he was in the doldrums] either to make
him a garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being
worthy to be whipped.
DON PEDRO: To be whipped! What’s his fault?
BENEDICK: The flat transgression of a school-boy, who, being
overjoy’d with finding a bird’s nest, shows it his companion, and he
[The flat . . . steals it:
Benedick is saying that Claudio called Don Pedro's attention to
Hero's beauty. Then, when Don Pedro looked upon her beauty, he
stole Hero from Claudio.]
DON PEDRO: Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The
transgression is in the stealer. [Is
trust a sin? The sinner is the stealer.]
BENEDICK: Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made, and
the garland too; for the garland he might have worn himself, and the
rod he might have bestowed on you, who, as I take it, have stolen
his bird’s nest.
[Yet it . . . next: It would not
have been wrong to make Claudio a garland out of the willow
leaves, then use the branch to beat you. As I understand it, you
were the one who stole Hero from him.]
DON PEDRO: I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to
the owner. [I just want to teach
the birds in the nest to sing, and return the nest and the birds
to the owner.]
BENEDICK: If their singing answer your saying, by my faith,
you say honestly. [Well, if
you're saying that you want to "teach" Hero to love Claudio, I'll
believe you when she actually does so.]
DON PEDRO: The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the
gentleman that danced with her told her she is much wronged by
BENEDICK: O! she misused me past the endurance of a block [of wood]: an oak but with one
green leaf on it, would have answered her [a half-dead oak tree would have been provoked enough to
reply to her insults]: my very visor [mask] began to assume life and
scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been myself [not realizing who I was], that
I was the prince’s jester; that I was duller than a great thaw [duller than watching ice thaw];
huddling jest upon jest with such impossible conveyance [skill] upon me, that I stood
like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at me. She speaks
poniards [daggers], and
every word stabs: if her breath were as terrible as her terminations
[as terrible as the terms she used],
there were no living near her; she would infect to the north star. I
would not marry her, though she were endowed with all that Adam had
left him [endowed with paradise]
before he transgressed: she would have made Hercules have turned
spit [have made Hercules turn the
spit over a kitchen fire], yea, and have cleft [split] his club to make the
fire too. Come, talk not of her; you shall find her the infernal Ate
[Atë, goddess of ruin and mischief
in classical mythology] in good apparel. I would to God
some scholar [sorcerer]
would conjure her, for certainly, while she is here, a man may live
as quiet in hell as in a sanctuary; and people sin upon purpose
because they would go thither; so, indeed, all disquiet, horror and
perturbation follow her.
[people . . . thither: People
would sin on purpose to go to hell, knowing that she would not be
there to annoy them.]
Re-enter CLAUDIO, BEATRICE, HERO, and LEONATO.
DON PEDRO: Look! here she comes.
BENEDICK: Will your Grace command me any service to the
world’s end? I will go on the slightest errand now to the Antipodes
[opposite side of the world]
that you can devise to send me on; I will fetch you a toothpicker
now from the furthest inch of Asia; bring you the length of Prester
John’s foot; fetch you a hair off the Great Cham’s beard; do you any
embassage [mission] to the
Pigmies, rather than hold three words’ conference with this harpy.
You have no employment for me?
[Prester John: Legendary king of a Christian nation in Asia]
DON PEDRO: None, but to desire your good
[Great Cham: Title of the ruler
in Mongolia and certain other Asian countries in medieval times]
[harpy: In classical mythology,
a monster that was part woman and part bird of prey. Here,
Benedick is comparing Beatrice to a harpy.]
BENEDICK: O God, sir, here’s a dish I love not: I cannot
endure my Lady Tongue. [Exit.
[O, God . . . Tongue: Benedick
compares Beatrice to food—specifically to the tongue of
certain animals (such as cows, lambs, and pigs). Cooked and
seasoned tongue was considered a delicacy. Of course, when
Benedick says he cannot "endure my Lady Tongue," he is referring
to Beatrice's verbal assaults.]
DON PEDRO: Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of
BEATRICE: Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave
him use for it, a double heart for a single one: marry, once before
he won it of me with false dice, therefore your Grace may well say I
have lost it.
[Indeed . . . lost it: Indeed, my
lord, he lent me his heart for a while, and I gave it back to him
as a double heart—his heart and mine united.But he didn't accept
my offer, so I suppose I have lost his heart.]
DON PEDRO: You have put him down, lady, you have put him
BEATRICE: So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I
should prove the mother of fools. I have brought Count Claudio, whom
you sent me to
[So I would . . . fools: For my
part, I hope that he doesn't put me down (in a marriage bed) so
that I won't become the mother fools like him.]
DON PEDRO: Why, how now, count! wherefore [why] are you sad?
CLAUDIO: Not sad, my lord.
DON PEDRO: How then? Sick?
CLAUDIO: Neither, my lord.
BEATRICE: The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
well; but civil count, civil as an orange [Seville orange, which is yellow], and something of
DON PEDRO: I’ faith, lady, I think your blazon [description] to be true;
though, I’ll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit [idea] is false. Here, Claudio,
I have wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won; I have broke with [broken the news to] her father,
and, his good will obtained; name the day of marriage, and God give
LEONATO: Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my
fortunes: his Grace hath made the match, and all grace say Amen to
BEATRICE: Speak, count, ’tis your cue.
CLAUDIO: 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 you and dote upon the
BEATRICE: Speak, cousin [Hero];
or, if you cannot, stop his mouth with a kiss, and let not him speak
DON PEDRO: In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.
BEATRICE: Yea, my lord; I thank it [my heart], poor fool, it keeps on the windy side of
care [keeps away from distress].
My cousin tells him in his ear that he is in her heart.
CLAUDIO: And so she doth, cousin.
BEATRICE: Good Lord, for alliance! [Thank God for romantic alliances!] Thus goes every
one to the world but I, and I am sunburnt. [Everyone except me goes out to the
world, but I remain indoors because I am sunburnt.] I may
sit in a corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!
DON PEDRO: Lady Beatrice, I will get you
BEATRICE: I would rather have one of your father’s getting.
Hath your Grace ne’er a brother like you? Your father got excellent
husbands, if a maid could come by them.
[I would . . . by them: I would
rather have a husband picked out by your father. Do you have a
brother like you? Your father's sons would make ideal husbands, if
a young lady could catch up with them.]
DON PEDRO: Will you have me, lady?
BEATRICE: No, my lord, unless I might have another for working
days: your Grace is too costly to wear every day. But, I beseech
your Grace, pardon me; I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.
[No, my lord . . . matter: No, my
lord, unless I could have another for workdays. You are like
Sunday clothes, which are too expensive to wear during the week.
But please pardon my words, your Grace. I was born to speak with a
merry tongue, not a serious one.]
DON PEDRO: Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best
becomes you; for, out of question [without
question], you were born in a merry hour.
BEATRICE: No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there
was a star danced, and under that was I born. Cousins, God give you
LEONATO: Niece, will you look to those things I told you
BEATRICE: I cry you mercy, uncle. By your Grace’s pardon. [Oh, forgive me, uncle. I'll do it now.
Please pardon me, your Grace.] [Exit.
DON PEDRO: By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.
LEONATO: There’s little of the melancholy element in her, my
lord: she is never sad but when she sleeps; and not ever sad then,
for I have heard my daughter say, she hath often dreamed of
unhappiness and waked herself with laughing.
DON PEDRO: She cannot endure to hear tell of a
LEONATO: O! by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of
DON PEDRO: She were an excellent wife for
LEONATO: O Lord! my lord, if they were but a week married,
they would talk themselves mad.
DON PEDRO: Count Claudio, when mean you to go to church [when will the wedding take place]?
CLAUDIO: To-morrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches till love
have all his
LEONATO: Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just
seven-night [only a week];
and a time too brief too, to have all things answer my mind [to consider all the questions I have
on this matter].
DON PEDRO: Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing [an interval]; but, I warrant
thee, Claudio, the time shall not go dully by us. I will in the
interim undertake one of Hercules’ labours, which is, to bring
Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection
the one with the other. I would fain [gladly; happily] have it a match ; and I doubt not
but to fashion it, if you three will but minister such assistance as
I shall give you direction.
LEONATO: My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights’
watchings [though it would cost me
ten sleepless nights].
CLAUDIO: And I, my lord.
DON PEDRO: And you too, gentle
HERO: I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin
to a good husband.
DON PEDRO: And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that
I know. [And Benedick does have
merits.] Thus far can I praise him; he is of a noble
strain, of approved valour, and confirmed honesty. I will teach you
how to humour your cousin, that she shall fall in love with
Benedick; and I, with your two helps [with your two helpers], will so practise on
Benedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his queasy stomach,
he shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this, Cupid is no
longer an archer: his glory shall be ours, for we are the only
love-gods. Go in with me, and I will tell you my drift. [Exeunt.
[If we can do . . . drift: If we
can do this, we will be doing Cupid's work, for we are gods of
love. Go with me, and I will tell you my plan.]
Act 2, Scene 2
Another room in Leonato's house.
Enter DON JOHN and BORACHIO.
DON JOHN: It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the daughter
BORACHIO: Yea, my lord; but I can cross [block; prevent] it.
DON JOHN: Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be
medicinable [agreeable] to
me: I am sick in displeasure to him, and whatsoever comes athwart
his affection ranges evenly with mine [whatever sabotages his plans is fine with me]. How
canst thou cross this
BORACHIO: Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly [so secretly] that no dishonesty
shall appear in me.
DON JOHN: Show me briefly how.
BORACHIO: I think I told your lordship, a year since [ago], how much I am in the
favour of Margaret, the waiting-gentlewoman to Hero.
DON JOHN: I remember.
BORACHIO: I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night,
appoint her to look out at her lady’s
[I can . . . window: I can get her
to look out of her lady's chamber window at any time during the
DON JOHN: What life is in that, to be the death of this
BORACHIO: The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to
the prince your brother; spare not to tell him, that he hath wronged
his honour in marrying the renowned Claudio,—whose estimation do you
mightily hold up,—to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.
[Go you . . . Hero: Go to Don
Pedro and tell him he has compromised his honor by arranging the
marriage of Claudio to a prostitute.]
DON JOHN: What proof shall I make of that? [What proof can I offer that Hero is a
BORACHIO: Proof enough to misuse [deceive] the prince, to vex Claudio, to undo Hero,
and kill Leonato. Look you for any other issue [Is there something else you want done]?
DON JOHN: Only to despite them, I will endeavour any thing. [To get back at them, I will try
BORACHIO: Go, then; find me a meet hour [the right time] to draw Don
Pedro and the Count Claudio alone: tell them that you know that Hero
loves me; intend a kind of zeal [devotion;
dedication; concern] both to the prince and Claudio, as—in
love of your brother’s honour, who hath made this match, and his
reputation, who is thus like to be cozened with the semblance of a
maid [to be deceived into thinking
that Hero is an innocent virgin],—that you have discovered
thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial: offer them
instances [examples of her
behavior], which shall bear no less likelihood than to see
me at her chamber-window, hear me call Margaret Hero; hear Margaret
term me Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night before
the intended wedding: for in the meantime I will so fashion the
matter that Hero shall be absent; and there shall appear such
seeming truth of Hero’s disloyalty, that jealousy shall be called
assurance, and all the preparation [for
the wedding] overthrown.
DON JOHN: Grow this to what adverse issue it can [After you put the finishing touches on
the plan], I will put it in practice. Be cunning in the
working this, and thy fee is a thousand ducats [coins of gold or silver].
BORACHIO: Be you constant [persistent]
in the accusation, and my cunning shall not shame me.
DON JOHN: I will presently go learn their day of
Act 2, Scene 3
Enter a Boy.
BENEDICK: In my chamber-window lies a book; bring it hither [here] to me in the
Boy. I am here already, sir.
BENEDICK: I know that; but I would have thee hence [have you go to the chamber],
and here again. [Exit Boy.] I do much wonder that one
man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his
behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow
follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling
in love: and such a man is Claudio. I have known, when there was no
music with him but the drum and the fife [wind instrument used in wartime]; and now had he
rather hear the tabor [small drum]
and the pipe [wind instrument used
for parties and other amusements]: I have known, when he
would have walked ten mile afoot to see a good armour [suit of armor]; and now will he
lie ten nights awake, carving the fashion of [designing] a new doublet [close-fitting jacket]. He was
wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a
soldier; and now is he turned orthographer [one who studies words and their
positions in sentences]; his words are a very fantastical
banquet, just so many strange dishes. May I be so converted, and see
with these eyes? [Will I fall in
love, and act like him?] I cannot tell; I think not: I will
not be sworn but love may transform me to an oyster; but I’ll take
my oath on it, till he have made an oyster of me, he shall never
make me such a fool.
[I will not be . . . I can't be
sure that love wouldn't turn me into a fool. Until love can
prove me wrong by making a fool of me, I'll go right on believing
that it can't.]
One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well;
another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be in one
woman, one woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be,
that’s certain; wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen
[offer a price for] her;
fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble,
or not I for an angel; of good discourse [conversation], an excellent musician, and her hair
shall be of what colour it please God. Ha! the prince and Monsieur
Love! I will hide me in the arbour [in
the garden arbor]. [Withdraws.
Enter DON PEDRO, LEONATO, and CLAUDIO, followed by BALTHAZAR and
DON PEDRO: Come, shall we hear this
CLAUDIO: Yea, my good lord. How still the evening
As hush’d on purpose to grace harmony!
DON PEDRO: See you where Benedick hath hid
CLAUDIO: O! very well, my lord: the music ended,
We’ll fit the kid-fox with a
[O! very . . . penny-worth: Oh,
yes, I see him well, my lord. When the music ends, we'll teach
that foxy fellow a thing or two.]
DON PEDRO: Come, Balthazar, we’ll hear that song
BALTHAZAR: O! good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
To slander music any more than once.
[O! good . . .once: Oh, my good
lord, please don't make me ruin that song again with my bad
DON PEDRO: It is the witness still of excellency,
To put a strange face on his own
[It is . . . perfection: Balthazar
tries to downplay his excellence as a singer.]
I pray thee, sing, and let me woo [coax
you] no more.
BALTHAZAR: Because you talk of wooing, I will
Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
To her he thinks not worthy; yet he woos;
Yet will he swear he
[Because you . . . loves: You say
you like my singing. You remind me of suitors who swear they love
certain women when they really don't.]
DON PEDRO: Nay, pray thee, come;
Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.
[Nay, pray . . . notes: Come, now.
If you're going to protest any longer, do so with musical notes.]
BALTHAZAR: Note this before my notes;
There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the
DON PEDRO: Why these are very crotchets [in music, quarter notes] that
Notes, notes, forsooth, and nothing! [Music.
BENEDICK: Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it not
strange that sheeps’ guts should hale souls out of men’s bodies?
Well, a horn for my money, when all’s done.
[sheeps' guts: The material used to make strings for violins and
[hale souls: The music is so
beautiful that it can attract a soul right out of a body.]
[Well, a . . . done: Well, I'd
rather listen to a horn than a stringed instrument.]
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no mo [more]
Of dumps [sorrowful or solemn
subjects] so dull and heavy;
The fraud [deceit] of men
was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy [leafy].
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
DON PEDRO: By my troth [truly],
a good song.
BALTHAZAR: And an ill singer, my
DON PEDRO: Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a
shift [well enough to pass the
BENEDICK: [Aside.] An [if]
he had been a dog that should have howled thus, they would have
hanged him; and I pray God his bad voice bode no mischief. I had as
lief have heard the night-raven, come what plague could have come
direction indicating that a character is speaking to himself, out
of the hearing range of others onstage. Sometimes a character
directs an aside to a nearby character or characters. The audience
can hear everything.]
[and I pray . . . after it: I pray
to God that his voice is not a bad omen, like the cry of a night
raven, which can signal the coming of a plague or some other
disaster. In fact, I would rather listen to a raven than to
DON PEDRO: Yea, marry; dost thou hear,
Balthazar? I pray thee, get us some excellent music, for to-morrow
night we would have it at the Lady Hero’s
BALTHAZAR: The best I can, my lord.
DON PEDRO: Do so: farewell. [Exeunt
BALTHAZAR and Musicians.] Come hither, Leonato: what was it
you told me of to-day, that your niece Beatrice was in love with
CLAUDIO: O! ay:—[Aside to D.
PEDRO.] Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits. [Keep it up, keep it up. Benedick is in
the arbor listening.]
I did never think that lady would have loved any man.
LEONATO: No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she should
so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviours
seemed ever to abhor.
BENEDICK: [Aside.] Is ’t possible?
Sits the wind in that corner? [Is
that where the wind is blowing?]
LEONATO: By my troth [truly],
my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it but that she loves him
with an enraged affection: it is past the infinite of thought [it is beyond understanding].
DON PEDRO: May be she doth but counterfeit [pretend].
CLAUDIO: Faith, like enough.
LEONATO: O God! counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of
passion came so near the life of passion as she discovers it. [Pretending? She seems so sincere, so
DON PEDRO: Why, what effects of passion shows she?
CLAUDIO: [Aside.] Bait the hook
well: this fish will bite.
LEONATO: What effects, my lord? She will sit you; [To
CLAUDIO.] You heard my daughter tell you
CLAUDIO: She did, indeed.
DON PEDRO: How, how, I pray you? You amaze me: I would have
thought her spirit had been invincible against all assaults of
LEONATO: I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially
BENEDICK: [Aside.] I should think
this a gull, but that the white-bearded fellow speaks it: knavery
cannot, sure, hide itself in such reverence.
[I should . . . reverence: I would
think they are playing a trick on me. But I doubt it, because an
old and dignified fellow like Leonato would not take part in
CLAUDIO: [Aside.] He hath ta’en the
infection [he has taken the bait]:
hold it up [let's fish him in].
DON PEDRO: Hath she made her affection known to
LEONATO: No; and swears she never will: that’s her
CLAUDIO: ’Tis true, indeed; so your daughter says: ‘Shall I,’
says she, ‘that have so oft encountered him with scorn, write to him
that I love him?’
LEONATO: This says she now when she is beginning to write to
him; for she’ll be up twenty times a night, and there will she sit
in her smock till she have writ a sheet of paper: my daughter tells
CLAUDIO: Now [now that]
you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your daughter
LEONATO: O! when she had writ it, and was reading it over, she
found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?
LEONATO: O! she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence [tiny pieces]; railed at
herself, that she should be so immodest to write to one that she
knew would flout her: ‘I measure him,’ says she, ‘by my own spirit;
for I should flout him, if he writ to me; yea, though I love him, I
CLAUDIO: Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs,
beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; ‘O sweet Benedick!
God give me patience!’
LEONATO: She doth indeed; my daughter says so; and the ecstasy
hath so much overborne [overcome]
her, that my daughter is sometimes afeard she will do a desperate
outrage to herself. It is very
DON PEDRO: It were good that Benedick knew of it by some other
[some other person], if she
will not discover it [will not
reveal her love for him].
CLAUDIO: To what end? he would but make a sport of it and
torment the poor lady worse.
DON PEDRO: An [if] he
should, it were an alms [it would
be an act of charity] to hang him. She’s an excellent sweet
lady, and, out of all suspicion, she is virtuous.
CLAUDIO: And she is exceeding wise.
DON PEDRO: In everything but in loving
LEONATO: O! my lord, wisdom and blood [passion for Benedick] combating
in so tender a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath the
victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, being her uncle
and her guardian.
DON PEDRO: I would she had bestowed this dotage [love] on me; I would have
daffed [disregarded] all
other respects [matters]
and made her half myself [made her
my wife]. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear what a’
[he] will say.
LEONATO: Were it good, think you?
CLAUDIO: Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she
will die if he love her not, and she will die ere [before] she make her love
known, and she will die if he woo her, rather than she will bate [stop; hold back] one breath of
her accustomed crossness.
DON PEDRO: She doth well: if she should make tender of [if she should offer him] her
love, ’tis very possible he’ll scorn it; for the man,—as you know
all,—hath a contemptible
CLAUDIO: He is a very proper [handsome]
DON PEDRO: He hath indeed a good outward happiness [appearance].
CLAUDIO: ’Fore [before]
God, and in my mind, very wise.
DON PEDRO: He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit [show some signs of intelligence].
LEONATO: And I take him to be
DON PEDRO: As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of
quarrels you may say he is wise; for either he avoids them with
great discretion, or undertakes them with a most Christian-like
[Hector: In Homer's Iliad, the brave leader of the Trojans in
the war between Troy and Greece.]
LEONATO: If he do fear God, a’ [he] must necessarily keep peace: if he break the
peace, he ought to enter into a quarrel with fear and
DON PEDRO: And so will he do; for the man doth fear God,
howsoever [even though] it
seems not in him by some large jests he will make. Well, I am sorry
for your niece. Shall we go seek Benedick, and tell him of her
CLAUDIO: Never tell him, my lord: let her wear it out with
good counsel [let her get over her
feelings for him by biding her time while thinking things through].
LEONATO: Nay, that’s impossible: she may wear her heart out
DON PEDRO: Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter:
let it cool the while. I love Benedick well, and I could wish he
would modestly examine himself, to see how much he is unworthy to
have so good a lady.
LEONATO: My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.
CLAUDIO: [Aside.] If he do not dote
on her upon this, I will never trust my expectation. [If he doesn't dote on her as a result
of what he heard, I will be be very surprised.]
DON PEDRO: [Aside.] Let there be
the same net spread for her; and that must your daughter and her
gentlewoman carry. The sport will be, when they hold one an opinion
of another’s dotage, and no such matter: that’s the scene that I
would see, which will be merely a dumbshow. Let us send her to call
him in to dinner. [Exeunt DON PEDRO,
CLAUDIO, and LEONATO.
[Let there be . . . to dinner: Let
your daughter and her servant spread the same net for Beatrice.
The result will be that Beatrice thinks Benedick loves her and
that Benedick thinks Beatrice loves him even though neither has
said so. I'm eager to see what happens after the net is spread and
the two of them confront each other. Their natural tendency is to
insult each other, but this time they may end up saying nothing.
It would be a dumbshow—that is, a pantomime. Let's send Beatrice
to call Benedick to dinner.]
BENEDICK: [Advancing from the arbour.] This can be no
trick: the conference was sadly borne [their conversation had a serious tone]. They have
the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady [Beatrice]: it seems, her
affections have their full bent [her
for me are deep]. Love me! why, it must be requited [why, I must return her love]. I
hear how I am censured [criticized]:
they say I will bear myself proudly, if I perceive the love come
from her; they say too that she will rather die than give any sign
of affection. I did never think to marry: I must not seem proud [I must not respond to her by showing
pride]: happy are they that hear their detractions, and can
put them to mending [that hear of
their faults and can correct them]. They say the lady is
fair: ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous: ’tis so,
I cannot reprove [contradict]
it; and wise, but for loving me: by my troth [truly], it is no addition to
her wit [no testament to her
intelligence], nor no great argument of [for] her folly, for I will be
horribly in love with her. I may chance have some odd quirks and
remnants of wit broken on me, because I have railed so long against
marriage; but doth not the appetite alter? [I may be the butt of some jokes and
few insults here and here, because I have spoken so long against
marriage. But can't a man change his ways?] A man loves the
meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. Shall quips and
sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the
career of his humour [of the brain
dissuade me from courting her]? No; the world must be
peopled. When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I
should live till I were married. Here comes Beatrice. By this day!
she’s a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in
BEATRICE: Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to
BENEDICK: Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your
BEATRICE: I took no more pains for those thanks than you take
pains to thank me: if it had been painful, I would not have
BENEDICK: You take pleasure then in the
BEATRICE: Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s
point, and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach, signior: fare
you well. [Exit.
[Yea, just . . . well: Yes, I take
as much pleasure in delivering the message as you would take in a
knife point poking you or in choking a daw (a type of crow). Have
you lost your stomach for dinner? Well, good-bye,]
BENEDICK: Ha! ‘Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to
dinner,’ there’s a double meaning in that. ‘I took no more pains for
those thanks than you took pains to thank me,’ that’s as much as to
say, Any pains that I take for you is as easy as thanks. If I do not
take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not love her, I am a Jew [an outcast]. I will go get her
Act 3, Scene 1
Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA.
HERO: Good Margaret, run thee to the parlour;
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
Proposing [conversing] with
the prince and
Whisper her ear, and tell her, I and Ursula
Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse
Is all of her; say that thou overheard’st us,
And bid her steal into the pleached bower [viny arbor],
Where honey-suckles, ripen’d by the
Forbid the sun to enter; like favourites,
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
Against that power that bred [created]
it. There will she hide her,
To listen our propose [to
eavesdrop on our conversation]. This is thy
Bear thee well in it and leave us
MARGARET: I’ll make her come, I warrant you, presently.
HERO: Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
As we do trace this alley [walkway]
up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick:
When I do name him, let it be thy
To praise him more than ever man did merit.
My talk to thee must be how Benedick
Is sick in love with Beatrice: of this matter
Is little Cupid’s crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by
Enter BEATRICE, behind.
For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing [small wading bird], runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.
URSULA: The pleasant’st angling is to see the
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait:
So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
Is couched in the woodbine coverture [climbing vines providing cover for Beatrice].
Fear you not my part of the
HERO: Then go we near her, that her ear lose
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it. [They advance to
No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful;
I know her spirits are as coy and wild
As haggerds [haggards: wild hawks]
URSULA: But are you sure
That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?
HERO: So says the prince, and my new-trothed lord [my future husband, Claudio].
URSULA: And did they bid you tell her of it,
HERO: They did entreat me to acquaint her of
But I persuaded them, if they lov’d Benedick,
To wish him [to tell him to]
wrestle with [hold back any show
And never to let Beatrice know of it.
URSULA: Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
Deserve as full as fortunate a
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?
[Deserve . . . upon: Deserve to
share a marriage bed with Beatrice?]
HERO: O god of love! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man;
But nature never fram’d a woman’s heart
Of prouder stuff than that of
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
undervaluing] what they look on, and her wit
Values itself so highly, that to her
All matter else seems weak. She cannot love,
Nor take no shape nor project of
She is so self-endear’d [so
URSULA: Sure, I think so;
And therefore certainly it were not good
She knew his love, lest she make sport [lest she laugh] at it.
HERO: Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur’d,
But she would spell him backward [say
his good qualities are bad ones]: if
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antick,
[drawing . . . antick: Antick is
an archaic word for a buffoon or a clown. Thus, Hero is saying
that nature used a buffoon as a model when shaping Benedick.]
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance
If low, an agate [gemstone]
very vilely cut;
If speaking, why, a vane [weathervane]
blown with all winds [blown in
If silent, why, a block [an
immovable block of stone] moved with none.
So turns she every man the wrong side out,
And never gives to truth and virtue
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
[And never . . . purchaseth: And
never gives any deserving and meritorious man the compliment he
URSULA: Sure, sure, such carping is not
HERO: No; not to be so odd and from all fashions [to be so odd and so disdainful of
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable.
But who dare tell her so? If I should
She would mock me into air: O! she would laugh me
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
Therefore let Benedick, like cover’d fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:
It were a better death than die with
Which is as bad as die with tickling.
URSULA: Yet tell her of it: hear what she will
HERO: No; rather I will go to Benedick,
And counsel him to fight against his passion.
And, truly, I’ll devise some honest
To stain my cousin with. One doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.
URSULA: O! do not do your cousin such a wrong.
She cannot be so much without true judgment,—
Having so swift and excellent a
As she is priz’d to have,—as to refuse
So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.
[She cannot . . . Benedick: With
such a quick and excellent mind, she cannot be so foolish as to
refuse so rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.]
HERO: He is the only man of Italy,
Always excepted my dear Claudio.
[He is . . . Claudio: He is
the only real man in Italy except for my dear Claudio.]
URSULA: I pray you, be not angry with me,
Speaking my fancy [mind]:
For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,
Goes foremost in report through Italy.
HERO: Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
URSULA: His excellence did earn it, ere [before] he had
When are you married, madam?
HERO: Why, every day, to-morrow. [Why, every day, beginning tomorrow.] Come, go
I’ll show thee some attires [wedding
dresses], and have thy counsel
Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.
URSULA: [Aside.] She’s lim’d, I warrant
you: we have caught her,
[lim'd: Limed. Birdlime was a
sticky mixture spread on tree branches to trap birds. Beatrice has
HERO: If it prove so, then loving goes by haps [then love smites people in varying
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps. [Exeunt HERO and URSULA.
BEATRICE: [Advancing.] What fire is in mine ears? Can
this be true?
Stand I condemn’d for pride and scorn so much?
Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu [French for good-bye]!
No glory lives behind the back of such.
And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee [return your love],
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand:
If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
To bind our loves up in a holy
For others say thou dost deserve, and I
Believe it better than reportingly. [Exit.
Act 3, Scene 2
A room in Leonato's house.
Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, and LEONATO.
DON PEDRO: I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and
then go I toward Arragon. [I'll
stay here until after your marriage, then go to Aragon (in
CLAUDIO: I’ll bring you thither [accompany you there], my lord, if you’ll vouchsafe
DON PEDRO: Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss
of your marriage, as to show a child his new coat and forbid him to
wear it. I will only be bold with Benedick for his company; for,
from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all mirth:
he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid’s bow-string, and the little
hangman dare not shoot at him. He hath a heart as sound as a bell,
and his tongue is the clapper; for what his heart thinks his tongue
BENEDICK: Gallants, I am not as I have been.
LEONATO: So say I: methinks you are sadder [more serious].
CLAUDIO: I hope he be in love.
DON PEDRO: Hang him, truant! there’s no true drop of blood in
him, to be truly touched with love. If he be sad, he wants
[Hang . . . money: Hang it all,
Claudio! There's isn't a drop of blood in him that can be affected
by love. If he's in a serious mood, he must need money.]
BENEDICK: I have the
DON PEDRO: Draw [pull]
BENEDICK: Hang it.
CLAUDIO: You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.
[You . . . afterwards: Claudio is
playing with words, using "hang" and "draw" to allude to an
especially cruel death penalty used in England beginning in 1283
for persons convicted of high treason. The convicted person was
first hanged. While he was still alive, he was cut down. Then, the
following actions were carried out. The person's intestines and
sex organs were removed and burned. The person may still have been
alive at this point. Then ropes were attached to the person's legs
and arms. Horses pulled his body apart. For good measure, he was
beheaded. This type of execution became known as "drawing and
quartering," because the condemned person's body was drawn by the
horses into four parts, or quarters.]
DON PEDRO: What! sigh for [are
you still compaining about] the tooth-ache?
LEONATO: Where is but a humour or a worm? [Do you suppose it's caused by a body
fluid or a worm?]
BENEDICK: Well, every one can master a grief but he that has
CLAUDIO: Yet say I, he is in love. [Maybe love is causing the toothache.]
DON PEDRO: There is no appearance of fancy [love] in him, unless it be a
fancy that he hath to [unless it
be his love for] strange disguises; as, to be a Dutchman
to-day, a French-man to-morrow, or in the shape of two countries at
once, as a German from the waist downward, all slops [loose pants], and a Spaniard
from the hip upward, no doublet [no
jacket]. Unless he have a fancy to this foolery, as it
appears he hath [unless he likes
to disguise himself, as it appears that he does] he is no
fool for fancy [love], as
you would have it appear he is.
CLAUDIO: If he be not in love with some woman, there is no
believing old signs: a’ [he]
brushes his hat a mornings; what should that bode?
[If he be . . . bode: If he is not
in love with some woman, then all the symptoms of love that he
exhibits—symptoms everyone used to diagnose love since ancient
times—are no longer reliable. By the way, he brushes his hat in
the morning. What does that mean?]
DON PEDRO: Hath any man seen him at the
CLAUDIO: No, but the barber’s man hath been seen with him; and
the old ornament of his cheek hath already stuffed
[and the old . . . balls: And the
old ornamentation on his cheeks, his beard, has been shaved off
and used to stuff tennis balls.]
LEONATO: Indeed he looks younger than he did, by the loss of a
DON PEDRO: Nay, a’ [he]
rubs himself with civet [secretion
of a catlike animal used to make perfume]: can you smell
him out by that?
CLAUDIO: That’s as much as to say the sweet youth’s in
DON PEDRO: The greatest note [most
obvious sign] of it is his melancholy [seriousness; somberness].
CLAUDIO: And when was he wont [inclined] to wash his face?
DON PEDRO: Yea, or to paint himself [to wear makeup]? for the which, I hear what they
say of him.
[or to . . . of him:
Or to wear makeup? You should hear what people say about him for
CLAUDIO: Nay, but his jesting spirit; which is now crept into
a lute-string, and new-governed by stops [frets on the lute].
[Nay, but . . . stops: Another thing is that he doesn't mock people
or make jests anymore. It's as if he has become a string on a lute
that plays nothing but love songs.]
DON PEDRO: Indeed, that tells a heavy tale for him [that tells a somber tale about him].
Conclude, conclude he is in love.
CLAUDIO: Nay, but I know who loves
DON PEDRO: That would I know too: I warrant, one that knows
[That would . . . not: I think I
know, too—someone who doesn't know him.]
CLAUDIO: Yes, and his ill conditions; and in despite of all,
dies for him.
[Yes . . . him: Yes, she does know
him, and she also knows all about his bad habits. But, in spite of
everything, she would die for him.]
DON PEDRO: She shall be buried with her face upwards. [In other words, she won't be buried
face downward, like someone who has committed suicide.]
BENEDICK: Yet is this no charm for the tooth-ache. Old signior
[Leonato], walk aside with
me: I have studied eight or nine wise words to speak to you, which
these hobby-horses [fools; clowns]
must not hear. [Exeunt BENEDICK and
DON PEDRO: For my life, to break with him about Beatrice. [On my life, I think he's going to ask
Leonato for the hand of Beatrice.]
CLAUDIO: ’Tis even so. Hero and Margaret have by this played
their parts with Beatrice, and then the two bears will not bite one
another when they meet.
Enter DON JOHN.
DON JOHN: My lord and brother, God save you!
DON PEDRO: Good den [day],
DON JOHN: If your leisure served, I would speak with
DON PEDRO: In private?
DON JOHN: If it please you; yet Count Claudio may [should] hear, for what I would
speak of concerns him.
DON PEDRO: What’s the matter?
DON JOHN: [To CLAUDIO.] Means your lordship to be
DON PEDRO: You know he
DON JOHN: I know not that, when he knows what I know. [I know that he might not want to get
married when he knows what I know.]
CLAUDIO: If there be any impediment, I pray you discover
DON JOHN: You may think I love you not: let that appear
hereafter [we'll deal with that
later], and aim better at me by that I now will manifest.
For my brother, I think he holds you well, and in dearness of heart
hath holp [helped] to
effect [arrange] your
ensuing marriage; surely suit ill-spent, and labour ill bestowed [surely you've wasted your time and
effort on this matter]!
DON PEDRO: Why, what’s the matter?
DON JOHN: I came hither [here]
to tell you; and circumstances shortened,—for she hath been too long
a talking of,—the lady is
CLAUDIO: Who, Hero?
DON JOHN: Even she: Leonato’s Hero, your Hero, every man’s
DON JOHN: The [That]
word’s too good to paint out her wickedness; I could say, she were
worse: think you of a worse title, and I will fit her to it. Wonder
not till further warrant: go but with me to-night [Hold your questions about this for the
time being. Go with me tonight and] you shall see her
chamber-window entered, even the night before her wedding-day: if
you love her then, to-morrow wed her; but it would better fit your
honour to change your mind.
CLAUDIO: May this be
DON PEDRO: I will not think it.
DON JOHN: If you dare not trust that [what] you see, confess not that
you know. If you will follow me, I will show you enough; and when
you have seen more and heard more, proceed accordingly.
CLAUDIO: If I see any thing to-night why I should not marry
her to-morrow, in the congregation, where I should wed, there will I
DON PEDRO: And, as I wooed for thee to obtain her, I will join
with thee to disgrace her.
DON JOHN: I will disparage her no further till you are my
witnesses: bear it coldly but till midnight, and let the issue show
DON PEDRO: O day untowardly turned! [Oh, day adversely turned!]
CLAUDIO: O mischief strangely thwarting! [Oh, strange mischief thwarting my
DON JOHN: O plague right well prevented! So will you say
when you have seen the sequel. [Oh,
a plague prevented. So will you say when you see what happens
Act 3, Scene 3
Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES, with the Watch.
[Comment: Dogberry, Verges, and
members of the watch sometimes misuse words unintentionally,
creating a humorous effect. An example is Verges' use of salvation for damnation (line 4). A
misuse of a word in this way is called a malapropism.]
DOGBERRY: Are you good men and true?
VERGES: Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer
salvation [damnation], body
DOGBERRY: Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, if
they should have any allegiance [disloyalty]
in them, being chosen for the prince’s
VERGES: Well, give them their charge, neighbour
DOGBERRY: First, who think you the most desartless [deserving] man to be
FIRST WATCH: Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacoal; for they
can write and read.
DOGBERRY: Come hither, neighbour Seacoal. God hath blessed you
with a good name [reputation]:
to be a well-favoured man [man
with many good qualities] is the gift of fortune; but to
write and read comes by nature [education].
SECOND WATCH: Both which, Master
DOGBERRY: You have: I knew it would be your answer. Well, for
your favour, sir, why, give God thanks, and make no boast of it; and
for your writing and reading, let that appear when there is no need
of such vanity. You are thought here to be the most senseless [sensible] and fit man for the
constable of the watch; therefore bear you the lanthorn [lantern]. This is your charge:
you shall comprehend [apprehend]
all vagrom [vagrant] men;
you are to bid any man stand, in the prince’s name.
WATCHMAN: How, if a’ [he]
will not stand?
DOGBERRY: Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go; and
presently call the rest of the watch together, and thank God you are
rid of a knave.
VERGES: If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of
the prince’s subjects.
DOGBERRY: True, and they are to meddle [deal] with none but the
prince’s subjects. You shall also make no noise in the streets: for,
for the watch to babble and to talk is most tolerable [intolerable] and not to be
SECOND WATCH: We will rather sleep than talk: we know what
belongs to a watch [what a watch
is supposed to do].
DOGBERRY: Why, you speak like an ancient [experienced] and most quiet
watchman, for I cannot see how sleeping should offend; only have a
care that your bills [poleaxes or
similar weapons] be not stolen. Well, you are to call at
all the alehouses, and bid those that are drunk get them to
WATCHMAN: How if they will not?
DOGBERRY: Why then, let them alone till they are sober: if
they make you not then the better answer [if they give you any problems], you may say they
are not the men you took them for.
DOGBERRY: If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue
of your office, to be no true [honest]
man; and, for such kind of men, the less you meddle or make with
them, why, the more is for your honesty.
SECOND WATCH: If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay
hands on him?
DOGBERRY: Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they
that touch pitch [tar-like
substance] will be defiled. The most peaceable way for you,
if you do take a thief, is, to let him show himself what he is and
steal out of your [his]
VERGES: You have been always called a merciful man,
DOGBERRY: Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more
[much less] a man who hath
any honesty in
VERGES: If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call to
the nurse and bid her still it.
SECOND WATCH: How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear
DOGBERRY: Why, then, depart in peace, and let the child wake
her with crying; for the ewe that will not hear her lamb when it
baas, will never answer a calf when he bleats [moos].
VERGES: ’Tis very true.
DOGBERRY: This is the end of the charge. You constable, are to
present [represent] the
prince’s own person: if you meet the prince in the night, you may
VERGES: Nay, by ’r lady [by
Our Lady (the Virgin Mary)], that I think, a’ [he] cannot.
DOGBERRY: Five shillings to one on ’t, with any man that knows
the statues [statutes], he
may stay him: marry, not without the prince be
willing; for, indeed, the watch ought to offend no man, and it is an
offence to stay a man against his will.
VERGES: By ’r lady, I think it be so.
DOGBERRY: Ha, ah, ha! Well, masters, good night: an there be
any matter of weight chances [if
there be any important matter that happens], call up me:
keep your fellows’ counsels and your own, and good night. Come,
SECOND WATCH: Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit
here upon the church-bench till two, and then all go to
DOGBERRY: One word more, honest neighbours. I pray you, watch
about Signior Leonato’s door; for the wedding being there to-morrow,
there is a great coil [a lot going
on there] to-night. Adieu [French
for good-bye]; be vigitant [vigilant], I beseech you.
[Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES.
Enter BORACHIO and CONRADE.
BORACHIO: What, Conrade!
WATCHMAN: [Aside.] Peace! stir
BORACHIO: Conrade, I
CONRADE: Here, man, I am at thy elbow.
BORACHIO: Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a
[Mass: By the mass, referring to the Roman Catholic Eucharistic
CONRADE: I will owe thee an answer for that; and now forward
with thy tale.
[scab: vile fellow]
BORACHIO: Stand thee close then under this penthouse [balcony; jutting part of a building],
for it drizzles rain, and I will, like a true drunkard, utter all to
WATCHMAN: [Aside.] Some treason,
masters; yet stand
BORACHIO: Therefore know, I have earned of Don John a thousand
ducats [silver or gold coins].
CONRADE: Is it possible that any villany should be so dear [should cost so much]?
BORACHIO: Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any
villany should be so rich; for when rich villains have need of poor
ones, poor ones may make what price they will.
CONRADE: I wonder at it. [I
have my doubts.]
BORACHIO: That shows thou art unconfirmed [inexperienced]. Thou knowest
that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is nothing to [does nothing to change] a
CONRADE: Yes, it is apparel.
BORACHIO: I mean, the fashion [the kind of apparel].
CONRADE: Yes, the fashion is the fashion.
BORACHIO: Tush! I may as well say the
fool’s the fool. But seest thou not what a deformed thief this
fashion is? [But don't you see how
fashion deceives us?]
WATCHMAN: [Aside.] I know that
Deformed; a’ [he] has been
a vile thief this seven years; a’ goes up and down like a gentleman:
I remember his
BORACHIO: Didst thou not hear somebody?
CONRADE: No: ’twas the vane on the house.
BORACHIO: Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed [deceitful] thief this fashion
is? how giddily he turns about all the hot bloods between fourteen
and five-and-thirty? sometime fashioning them like Pharaoh’s
soldiers in the reechy painting; sometime like god Bel’s priests in
the old church-window; sometime like the shaven Hercules in the
smirched worm-eaten tapestry, where his cod-piece seems as massy as
[Seest . . . club: Borachio is trying to explain that clothes
enable a person to dress like someone he is not—a playboy, a
soldier, a clergyman, or even Hercules. In doing so, the person
deceives the public.
CONRADE: All this I see, and I see that the fashion wears out
more apparel than the man [and I
see that a fashion goes out of style before a man can wear it out].
But art not thou thyself giddy with the fashion too, that thou hast
shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the fashion? [But aren't you overly concerned with
changing fashions? After all, you changed from your conversation
about our task at hand to a story about fashion.]
[Bel: Title for gods in
Mesopotamian religion. It means lord.]
[cod-piece: A codpiece, which is
a pouch, bag, or flap on the front of a man's breeches, covering
BORACHIO: Not so, neither; but know, that I have to-night
wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero’s gentlewoman, by the name of Hero:
she leans me out at her mistress’ chamber-window, bids me a thousand
times good night,—I tell this tale vilely:—I should first tell thee
how the prince, Claudio, and my master, planted and placed and
possessed by my master Don John, saw afar off in the orchard this
[Not so . . . encounter: No, I
didn't. But you should know that tonight I wooed Margaret, Hero's
servant. I called her by the name of Hero while she was leaning
out of her mistress's bedroom window. She bid me a thousand good
nights. Don Pedro, Claudio, and my master, Don John, witnessed
this amiable encounter from the orchard.]
CONRADE: And thought they Margaret was Hero?
BORACHIO: Two of them did, the prince and Claudio; but the
devil my master, knew she was Margaret; and partly by his oaths,
which first possessed them, partly by the dark night, which did
deceive them, but chiefly by my villany, which did confirm any
slander that Don John had made, away went Claudio enraged; swore he
would meet her, as he was appointed, next morning at the temple, and
there, before the whole congregation, shame her with what he saw
o’er night, and send her home again without a husband.
[Two of them . . . husband: Don
Pedro and Claudio believed Margaret was Hero, and Don John knew
that it was wasn't. But Don Pedro and Claudio were quick to
believe that it was Hero because Don John swore that it was and
because it was too dark to see faces. My villainy in this trickery
backed up what Don John told them. Claudio went away enraged. He
swore that at the wedding ceremony tomorrow he would shame her
before the whole congregation and send her home without a
FIRST WATCH: We charge [arrest]
you in the prince’s name, stand!
SECOND WATCH: Call up the right Master constable. We have here
recovered [discovered, a
malapropism] the most dangerous piece of lechery [treachery, a malapropism] that
ever was known in the commonwealth.
FIRST WATCH: And one Deformed [see lines 54-55] is one of them: I know him, a’ [he] wears a lock [of hair].
CONRADE: Masters, masters!
SECOND WATCH: You’ll be made [to]
bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.
FIRST WATCH: Never speak: we charge you let us obey [order] you to go with
BORACHIO: We are like to prove a goodly commodity [to be important prisoners],
being taken up of these men’s bills [taken by these armed men].
CONRADE: A commodity in question [your importance is in question], I warrant you.
Come, we’ll obey you. [Exeunt.
Act 3, Scene 4
A room in Leonato's house.
Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA.
HERO: Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice, and desire her to
URSULA: I will, lady.
HERO: And bid her come hither [here].
URSULA: Well. [Exit.
MARGARET: Troth [truly],
I think your other rabato [starched
collar that stands rigid in the back and on the sides] were
HERO: No, pray thee, good Meg, I’ll wear this.
MARGARET: By my troth’s not so good; and I warrant your cousin
[Beatrice] will say
HERO: My cousin’s a fool, and thou art another: I’ll wear none
MARGARET: I like the new tire within excellently, if the hair
were a thought browner; and your gown’s a most rare fashion, i’
faith. I saw the Duchess of Milan’s gown that they praise
[tire: Archaic term for headdress.
Within apparently means what is inside the headdress—a wig.]
HERO: O! that exceeds [that
gown is exceedingly beautiful], they say.
MARGARET: By my troth’s but a night-gown in respect of yours:
cloth o’ gold, and cuts [slits to
reveal the color beneath], and laced with silver, set with
pearls, down sleeves, side sleeves [decorative
sleeves worn over the sleeves of the dress], and skirts
round, underborne [trimmed]
with a bluish tinsel; but for a fine, quaint, graceful, and
excellent fashion, yours is worth ten on ’t.
[By my . . . on 't: Margaret says
the Duchess of Milan's wedding dress is only a nightgown compared
to Hero's wedding dress, with all of its glittering appointments.
In fact, says Margaret, Hero's dress is ten times better than the
Duchess of Milan's dress.]
HERO: God give me joy to wear it! for my heart is exceeding
heavy. [God give me joy in wearing
it, for my heart is heavy with anxiety.]
MARGARET: ’Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a man. [Your body will soon be even heavier
with the weight of a man on it.]
HERO: Fie upon thee! art not ashamed?
MARGARET: Of what, lady? of speaking honourably? is not
marriage honourable in a beggar? Is not your lord honourable without
marriage? I think you would have me say, "saving your reverence, a
husband": an [if] bad
thinking do not wrest [minsinterpret] true speaking, I’ll offend
nobody. Is there any harm in ‘the heavier for a husband?’ None, I
think, an [if] it be the
right husband and the right wife; otherwise ’tis light, and not
heavy: ask my Lady Beatrice else; here she comes.
[Of what . . . husband?": Ashamed
of what? Of speaking honorably? Is not marriage honorable even in
a beggar? Is not Claudio honorable without marriage? Margaret then
tells Hero that she is so modest and priggish that she even thinks
the word husband is vulgar. "Saving your reverence" is a mock
apology for uttering the word husband.]
HERO: Good morrow, coz [cousin].
BEATRICE: Good morrow, sweet
HERO: Why, how now! do you speak in the sick tune? [Why does your voice seem to be in
BEATRICE: I am out of all other tune, methinks. [That's the only tune I can speak in.]
MARGARET: Clap’s into ‘Light o’ love;’ that goes without a
burden: do you sing it, and I’ll dance it.
[Clap's . . . dance it: Lead us in
a rendition of "Light o' Love," which has no baritone or bass
notes. You sing it and I'll dance it.]
BEATRICE: Ye light o’ love with your heels! then, if your
husband have stables enough, you’ll see he shall lack no
[Ye light . . . heels: You're so light with love that your heels
hardly touch the floor when you dance.]
MARGARET: O illegitimate construction [interpretation]! I scorn that
with my heels. [Oh, you're singing
that wrong. I scorn it by tapping my heels.]
[then, if . . . barns:
Figuratively, if your husband provides enough rooms, you'll have
plenty of children to fill them. (Barns is a pun. Margaret means bairns, an archaic word for children.)]
BEATRICE: ’Tis almost five o’clock, cousin; ’tis time you were
ready. By my troth [truly],
I am exceeding ill. Heigh-ho!
MARGARET: For a hawk, a horse, or a husband? [Are you heigh-hoing for a hawk, a
horse, or a husband?]
BEATRICE: For the letter that begins them all: H. [For the letter that begins all those words: H. But Beatrice apparently is
pretending that H is
spelled phonetically as ache,
not aitch, because she
is sick with an ache. This is a rather clumsy play on words.]
MARGARET: Well, an [if]
you be not turned Turk, there’s no more sailing by the star.
[Well . . . star: Well, if you
decided to embrace love completely, there's no more sailing by the
BEATRICE: What means the fool,
[trow: I ask; I wonder]
MARGARET: Nothing I; but God send every one their heart’s
HERO: These gloves the count sent me; they are an excellent
perfume. [These gloves the count
sent me really smell good.]
BEATRICE: I am stuffed, cousin, I cannot smell. [My nose is stuffed up, cousin; I
MARGARET: A maid, and stuffed! there’s goodly catching of
[A maid . . . cold:
Margaret's language is vulgar: A virgin who has been stuffed by a
man! That's a goodly way to catch a cold.]
BEATRICE: O, God help me! God help me! how long have you
[how long . . . apprehension: How
long have been trying to say witty things?]
MARGARET: Ever since you left it [ever since you quit saying witty things.] Doth not
my wit become me rarely!
BEATRICE: It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your
cap. By my troth [truly], I
[It is . . . cap: It becomes you,
all right, like the clothes a court jester wears. You should wear
your wit in your jester's cap.]
MARGARET: Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus [herbal remedy commonly referred to as
holy thistle], and lay it to your heart: it is the only
thing for a qualm.
HERO: There thou prick’st her with a thistle.
BEATRICE: Benedictus! why Benedictus? you have some moral in
this Benedictus? [are you
recommending Benedictus because it has a hidden meaning, namely
that you think Benedick is the cause of my illness?]
MARGARET: Moral! [Hidden
meaning!] no, by my troth [truly],
I have no moral meaning; I meant, plain holy-thistle. You may think,
perchance, that I think you are in love: nay, by ’r lady [by Our Lady], I am not such a
fool to think what I list [please];
nor I list [please] not to
think what I can; nor, indeed, I cannot think, if I would think my
heart out of thinking, that you are in love, or that you will be in
love, or that you can be in love. Yet Benedick was such another, and
now is he become a man: he swore he would never marry; and yet now,
in despite of his heart, he eats his meat without grudging: and how
you may be converted, I know not; but methinks you look with your
eyes as other women do.
BEATRICE: What pace is this that thy tongue keeps? [Why are you speaking so fast and so
MARGARET: Not a false gallop. [I may be speaking fast, but I'm telling the truth.]
URSULA: Madam, withdraw: the prince, the count, Signior
Benedick, Don John, and all the gallants of the town, are come to
fetch you to
HERO: Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good Ursula.
Act 3, Scene 5
Another room in Leonato's house.
Enter LEONATO with DOGBERRY and VERGES.
LEONATO: What would you with me, honest neighbour?
DOGBERRY: Marry, sir, I would have some
confidence with you, that decerns [concerns]
you nearly [personally].
LEONATO: Brief, I pray you; for you see it is a busy time with
DOGBERRY: Marry, this it is,
VERGES: Yes, in truth it is, sir.
LEONATO: What is it, my good friends?
DOGBERRY: Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the matter:
[he's] an old man, sir, and
his wits are not so blunt [sharp],
as, God help, I would desire they were; but, in faith, honest as the
skin between his brows.
VERGES: Yes, I thank God, I am as honest as any man living,
that is an old man and no honester than
[Yes . . . than I: Yes, thank God,
I am as honest as any man living—that is, any old man who is no
more honest than I.]
DOGBERRY: Comparisons are odorous [odious]: palabras [don't
speak too many words], neighbour Verges.
LEONATO: Neighbours, you are tedious.
DOGBERRY: It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the
poor duke’s officers; but truly, for mine own part, if I were as
tedious as a king, I could find in my heart to bestow it all of your
[It pleases . . . worship:
Dogberry apparently doesn't know the meaning of tedious
LEONATO: All thy tediousness on me! ha?
DOGBERRY: Yea, an [if]
’t were a thousand pound more than ’tis; for I hear as good
exclamation [acclaim; praise]
on your worship, as of any man in the city, and though I be but a
poor man, I am glad to hear
VERGES: And so am I.
LEONATO: I would fain [willingly;
like to] know what you have to say.
VERGES: Marry, sir, our watch to-night,
excepting your worship’s presence, ha’ ta’en a couple of as arrant [complete; thoroughgoing] knaves
as any in Messina.
DOGBERRY: A good old man, sir; he will be talking: as they
say, ‘when the age is in, the wit is out.’ God help us! it is a
world to see! Well said, i’ faith, neighbour Verges: well, God’s a
good man; an two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An
honest soul, i’ faith, sir; by my troth he is, as ever broke bread:
but God is to be worshipped: all men are not alike; alas! good
[A good . . . neighbour: He's a
good old man, sir; but he likes to jabber on. When a man is in old
age, his wit his out. God help us! What a world! Well said,
Verges, truly. Well, God is good. If two men ride on a horse, one
must sit behind. Verges is honest, sir, as honest as anyone who
has ever broken bread. But not all men have as much intelligence
or talent as other men. Too bad. Is it not so, good neighbor?]
LEONATO: Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of
DOGBERRY: Gifts that God gives. [God gave me my gifts.]
LEONATO: I must leave you.
DOGBERRY: One word, sir: our watch, sir, hath indeed
two aspicious [suspicious]
persons, and we would have them this morning examined before your
LEONATO: Take their examination yourself, and bring it me: I
am now in great haste, as may appear unto you.
DOGBERRY: It shall be suffigance [sufficient].
LEONATO: Drink some wine ere [before]
you go: fare you well.
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER: My lord, they stay for you to give your daughter to
LEONATO: I’ll wait upon them: I am ready. [Exeunt LEONATO and Messenger.
DOGBERRY: Go, good partner, go, get you to [go get] Francis Seacoal; bid
him bring his pen and inkhorn to the gaol [alternate spelling of jail]:
we are now to examination [examine]
VERGES: And we must do it wisely.
DOGBERRY: We will spare for no wit, I warrant you; here’s that
shall drive some of them to a non-come: only get the learned writer
to set down our excommunication [communication;
message], and meet me at the gaol [jail]. [Exeunt.
Act 4, Scene 1
The inside of a church.
Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, LEONATO, FRIAR FRANCIS, CLAUDIO,
BENEDICK, HERO, BEATRICE, &c.
LEONATO: Come, Friar Francis, be brief: only to the plain form
of marriage, and you shall recount their particular duties
FRIAR: You come hither [here],
my lord, to marry this lady?
LEONATO: To be married to her, friar; you come to marry
FRIAR: Lady, you come hither [here]
to be married to this count?
HERO: I do.
FRIAR: If either of you know any inward impediment, why you
should not be conjoined, I charge you, on your souls, to utter
CLAUDIO: Know you any,
HERO: None, my lord.
FRIAR: Know you any, count?
LEONATO: I dare make his answer; none.
CLAUDIO: O! what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily
do, not knowing what they do!
BENEDICK: How now! Interjections? Why then, some be of
laughing, as ah! ha!
CLAUDIO: Stand thee by, friar. Father, by your
Will you with free and unconstrained soul
Give me this maid, your daughter?
LEONATO: As freely, son, as God did give her me.
CLAUDIO: And what have I to give you back whose
May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
DON PEDRO: Nothing, unless you render her again. [Nothing, unless you return her to
CLAUDIO: Sweet prince, you learn [teach] me noble thankfulness.
There, Leonato, take her back again:
Give not this rotten orange to your
She’s but the sign and semblance of her honour [She's just an imitation of honor].
Behold! how like a maid [virgin]
she blushes here.
O! what authority and show of truth
Can cunning sin cover itself withal.
Comes not that blood as modest
To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
[Comes not . . . virtue: Isn't that
blush a sign that she is virtuous?]
All you that see her, that she were a maid [virgin],
By these exterior shows? But she is none:
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
Her blush is guiltiness, not
LEONATO: What do you mean, my lord?
CLAUDIO: Not to be married,
Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton [to a proven whore].
LEONATO: Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
Have vanquish’d the resistance of her
And made defeat of her virginity,—
[Dear . . . virginity: My dear
lord, if you have seduced her and taken her virginity—]
CLAUDIO: I know what you would say: if I have known [have had sexual relations with]
You’ll say she did embrace me as a husband,
And so extenuate [mitigate;
lessen] the ’forehand [beforehand] sin:
I never tempted her with word too large [I never tempted her with sweet talk];
But, as a brother to his sister, show’d
Bashful sincerity and comely [beautiful]
HERO: And seem’d I ever otherwise to you? [And did I seem promiscuous to you?]
CLAUDIO: Out on thee! Seeming! I will write against
You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;
[You seem . . . blown: You led me
to believe that you were like the Roman goddess of chastity and
the moon, Diana—as pure as a flower bud before it reproduces.]
But you are more intemperate in your blood
Than Venus, or those pamper’d animals
That rage in savage
[Venus: Goddess of love in ancient
Roman mythology. Her Greek name was Aphrodite.]
HERO: Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide [so hatefully of me?]
LEONATO: Sweet prince, why speak not you?
DON PEDRO: What should I speak?
I stand dishonour’d, that have gone about
To link my dear friend to a common stale [prostitute].
LEONATO: Are these things spoken, or do I but
DON JOHN: Sir, they are spoken, and these things are
BENEDICK: This looks not like a nuptial [wedding].
HERO: True! O God!
CLAUDIO: Leonato, stand I
Is this the prince? Is this the prince’s brother?
Is this face Hero’s? Are our eyes our own?
LEONATO: All this is so; but what of this, my
CLAUDIO: Let me but move one question to your
And by that fatherly and kindly
That you have in her, bid her answer truly.
LEONATO: I charge thee do so, as thou art my
HERO: O, God defend me! how am I beset!
What kind of catechizing [questioning]
call you this?
CLAUDIO: To make you answer truly to your
HERO: Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
With any just reproach? [Who can
dirty my name with undeniable evidence?]
CLAUDIO: Marry, that can
Hero itself can blot out Hero’s virtue.
[that can . . . virtue: All we
have to do is say the name Hero, which is so filthy that it can
blot out any virtue you claim for yourself.]
What man was he talk’d with you
Out at your window, betwixt [between]
twelve and one?
Now, if you are a maid [virgin],
answer to this.
HERO: I talk’d with no man at that hour, my lord.
DON PEDRO: Why, then are you no maiden [no longer a virgin].
I am sorry you must hear: upon mine
Myself, my brother, and this grieved count,
Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night,
Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window;
Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
Confess’d the vile encounters they have
A thousand times in secret.
DON JOHN: Fie, fie! they are not to be nam’d, my
Not to be spoke of;
There is not chastity enough in language
Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.
[Fie . . . misgovernment: For
shame! For shame! It is better not to talk about her misbehavior.
To speak of it would offend any listener. Pretty lady, I am sorry
that you cannot control your passions.]
CLAUDIO: O Hero! what a Hero hadst thou been,
If half thy outward graces had been plac’d
About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!
[O Hero . . . heart: Oh, Hero,
what a wonderful wife you would be if you were half as good on the
inside as you are on the outside.]
But fare thee well, most foul, most fair!
Thou pure impiety, and impious purity!
For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be
[But fare . . . gracious: But
good-bye, you who are pure and polluted at the same time. I'll
lock the gates of love against you and from now on will only
wonder about the extent of your infidelity. Never again shall I be
gracious toward you.]
LEONATO: Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me? [HERO
BEATRICE: Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink you down? [why are you fainting?]
DON JOHN: Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light, [Let's go. Now that her wrongdoing has
been exposed, she can't endure the public disgrace.]
Smother her spirits up. [Exeunt DON
PEDRO, DON JOHN and CLAUDIO.
BENEDICK: How doth the lady? [How
is she doing?]
BEATRICE: Dead, I think! help, uncle!
Hero! why, Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick!
LEONATO: O Fate! take not away thy heavy hand:
Death is the fairest cover for her
That may be wish’d for.
BEATRICE: How now, cousin Hero!
FRIAR: Have comfort, lady.
LEONATO: Dost thou look up?
FRIAR: Yea; wherefore [why]
LEONATO: Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly
Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
The story that is printed in her blood?
[Wherefore . . . blood: Why?
Here's why: Everything on earth cries shame upon her. Can she deny
the story that has been told about her?]
Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes;
For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly
Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
Strike at thy life. Griev’d I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal nature’s frame?
O! one too much by thee. Why had I
[For, did . . . I one: If I
thought you would not die quickly, if I thought you were strong
enough to endure your shames, I myself would try to kill you and
accept the punishment for my crime. Am I grieved that I had only
one child? Do I rebuke nature for giving me only one? The truth is
that one child was one too many. Why was I cursed with her?]
Why ever wast thou lovely in mine eyes?
Why had I not with charitable hand
Took up a beggar’s issue at my gates,
Who smirched thus, and mir’d with infamy,
I might have said, ‘No part of it is
This shame derives itself from unknown loins?’
[Why had . . . loins: Why hadn't I
taken in the ragged and dirty child of a beggar at my gates? While
rearing it, I could have told people that no part of this child
was mine. It came from an unknown mother.]
But mine, and mine I lov’d, and mine I prais’d,
And mine that I was proud on [of],
mine so much
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her; why, she—O! she is
Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again,
And salt too little which may season give
To her foul-tainted flesh.
[mine so much . . . flesh: I loved
her so much that I had no life of my own. I thought only of her.
Oh, she has falllen into a pit of ink that even the sea has too
little water to clean her and too little salt to preserve her
BENEDICK: Sir, sir, be
For my part, I am so attir’d in [so
full of] wonder,
I know not what to say.
BEATRICE: O! on my soul, my cousin is belied! [being lied about].
BENEDICK: Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
BEATRICE: No, truly, not; although, until last
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
LEONATO: Confirm’d, confirm’d! O! that is stronger
Which was before barr’d up with ribs of iron.
[Confirm'd . . . iron: You just
further confirmed her guilt, the proof of which was already
Would the two princes lie? and Claudio lie,
Who lov’d her so, that, speaking of her
Wash’d it with tears? Hence [go]
from her! let her die.
FRIAR: Hear me a little;
For I have only been silent so long,
And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady: I have
A thousand blushing apparitions
To start into her face; a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness bear away those blushes;
[Hear me . . . those blushes:
Listen to me. As others were talking, I remained silent as I
observed a thousand blushes appear on her face, then a thousand
innocent shames turn that same face into angelic whiteness.]
And in her eye there hath appear’d a fire,
To burn the errors that these princes
Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool;
Trust not my reading nor my observations,
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenour of my book; trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting error.
[And in her . . . biting error: I
saw in her eye a fire that longed to burn away the errors that
these princes hold against her innocent truth. If I am wrong about
her, call me a fool. Don't trust my judgment, based on years of
experience. Don't trust my age, my reverence, my calling if you
can show me that there was no error made when this sweet lady was
LEONATO: Friar, it cannot be.
Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left
Is, that she will not add to her
A sin of perjury: she not denies it.
[Thou seest . . . denies it: You
can see that the only goodness she has left is that she will not
add the sin of perjury to her damnation. She has not denied her
Why seek’st thou then to cover with excuse
That which appears in proper nakedness?
FRIAR: Lady, what man is he you are accus’d of?
HERO: They know that do accuse me, I know
If I know more of any man alive
Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
Let all my sins lack mercy! O, my father!
[They know . . . mercy: Only those
who accuse me know the name of the man. I don't. If I have
committed a wrong with any man alive, let all my sins lack mercy.]
Prove you that any man with me convers’d
At hours unmeet, or that I
Maintain’d the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.
FRIAR: There is some strange misprision [misunderstanding] in the
BENEDICK: Two of them have the very bent of
And if their wisdoms be misled in
The practice of it lives in John the bastard,
Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies [who makes it his job to commit villainy].
LEONATO: I know not. If they speak but truth of
These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour,
The proudest of them shall well hear of
Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine.
Nor age so eat up my invention,
Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
But they shall find, awak’d in such a
Both strength of limb and policy of mind,
Ability in means and choice of friends,
To quit me of them throughly [thoroughly].
FRIAR: Pause awhile,
And let my counsel sway you in this
Your daughter here the princes left for dead;
Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
And publish it [make it known]
that she is dead indeed:
Maintain a mourning ostentation [mourn
And on your family’s old
Hang mournful epitaphs and do all rites
That appertain unto a burial.
LEONATO: What shall become of this? What will this
FRIAR: Marry, this well carried [done right] shall on her
Change slander to remorse; that is some
But not for that dream I on this strange course,
But on this travail look for greater birth [look for an opportunity to prove her
She dying, as it must be so maintain’d,
Upon the instant that she was accus’d,
Shall be lamented, pitied and
Of every hearer; for it so falls out [so happens]
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lack’d and lost,
Why, then we rack [realize; see]
the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show
Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio:
When he shall hear she died upon his words,
The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
Into his study of imagination,
And every lovely organ of her
Shall come apparell’d in more precious habit [shall be dressed in more precious
More moving-delicate, and full of life
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she liv’d indeed: then shall he mourn,—
If ever love had interest in his
And wish he had not so accused her,
No, though he thought his accusation true.
Let this be so, and doubt not but success
Will fashion the event in better shape
Than I can lay it down in
[doubt not . . . likelihood: If
you follow my advice, have no doubt that this episode will resolve
itself for the better.]
But if all aim but this be levell’d false,
The supposition of the lady’s death
Will quench the wonder of her infamy:
And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,—
As best befits her wounded
In some reclusive and religious life,
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.
[But if . . . injuries: But if my
plan fails, at least the supposition of her death will stop people
from wondering about what she did. In this case, you may wish to
conceal her in a convent, away from all eyes, tongues, minds, and
BENEDICK: Signior Leonato, let the friar advise
And though you know my inwardness and love
Is very much unto the prince and
Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this
As secretly and justly as your soul
Should with your body.
LEONATO: Being that I flow in grief,
The smallest twine may lead
[Being that . . . lead me: Because
I am in deep grief, I will hold onto the smallest bit of hope to
see where it leads.]
FRIAR: ’Tis well consented: presently away;
For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.
Come, lady, die to live: this wedding day
Perhaps is but prolong’d: have patience and endure. [Exeunt FRIAR, HERO, and LEONATO.
['Tis well . . . .endure: You have
the right attitude. Now let's leave this place; keep in mind that
strange predicaments require strange remedies. Come, lady, you
must die to live. Perhaps your wedding is only postponed, not
canceled. Be patient and endure.]
BENEDICK: Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this
BEATRICE: Yea, and I will weep a while longer.
BENEDICK: I will not desire that.
BEATRICE: You have no reason; I do it freely.
BENEDICK: Surely I do believe your fair cousin is
BEATRICE: Ah! how much might the man deserve of me that would
right her [that could prove she's
BENEDICK: Is there any way to show such friendship? [Is there anything I can do in that
BEATRICE: A very even way, but no such friend. [There's a way to help her, but I don't
think anyone would want to do it.]
BENEDICK: May a man do it?
BEATRICE: It is a man’s office, but not yours.
BENEDICK: I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is
BEATRICE: As strange as the thing I know not [It's as strange as what we we just
witnessed.] It were as possible for me to say I loved
nothing so well as you; but believe me not, and yet I lie not; I
confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin. [I am too busy with worry for my
BENEDICK: By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.
BEATRICE: Do not swear by it, and eat it. [Don't make such vows. You may have to
eat your words later.]
BENEDICK: I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make
him eat it that says I love not you.
BEATRICE: Will you not eat your
BENEDICK: With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest I
BEATRICE: Why then, God forgive me!
BENEDICK: What offence, sweet Beatrice? [Forgive you for what?]
BEATRICE: You have stayed me in a happy hour:
I was about to protest I loved
[You have . . . loved you: For not
being the first one to say what you did: "I love you."]
BENEDICK: And do it with all thy heart.
BEATRICE: I love you with so much of my heart that none is
left to protest [that I have
nothing left to stand in the way of our love].
BENEDICK: Come, bid me do anything for thee.
BEATRICE: Kill Claudio.
BENEDICK: Ha! not for the wide
BEATRICE: You kill me to deny it [my request]. Farewell.
BENEDICK: Tarry, sweet Beatrice.
BEATRICE: I am gone, though I am here: there is no love in
you: nay, I pray you, let me go.
BEATRICE: In faith, I will
BENEDICK: We’ll be friends first.
BEATRICE: You dare easier be friends with me than fight with
mine enemy. [Now I understand.
It's easier for you to be my friend than to fight my enemy.]
BENEDICK: Is Claudio thine enemy?
BEATRICE: Is he not approved in the height a villain, that
hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O! that I were a
man. What! bear her in hand until they come to take hands, and then,
with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour,—O
God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the
[What! bear her . . .
market-place: He had the audacity to hold her hand until the time
came for them to join hands and pledge their wedding vows. Then he
unleashed public accusation, slander, and hatred upon her. O, God,
I wish I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace.]
BENEDICK: Hear me,
BEATRICE: Talk with a man out at a window! a proper saying! [They say she was talking with a man
outside her window. That can't be true.]
BENEDICK: Nay, but Beatrice,—
BEATRICE: Sweet Hero! she is wronged, she is slandered, she is
BEATRICE: Princes and counties [counts]! Surely, a princely testimony, a goodly
Count Comfect [confection—that is,
candy]; a sweet gallant, surely! O! that I were a man for
his sake, or that I had any friend would be a man for my sake! [Oh, I wish I were a man, or had a man
for a friend.] But manhood is melted into curtsies, valour
into compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones
too: he is now as valiant as Hercules, that only tells a lie and
swears it. I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die a
[But manhood . . . grieving: But
there are no real fighting men left. They just bow and compliment
each other; they're all talk and little action. A man can become
as valiant as Hercules simply by telling a lie and swearing it's
the truth. I can't be a man by wishing I were one. Therefore, I
will die a grieving woman.]
BENEDICK: Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love
BEATRICE: Use it for my love some other way than swearing by
BENEDICK: Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath
BEATRICE: Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a
BENEDICK: Enough! I am engaged, I will challenge him. I will
kiss your hand, and so leave you. By this hand, Claudio shall render
me a dear account [shall pay
dearly for what he said]. As you hear of me, so think of
me. Go, comfort your cousin: I must say she is dead; and so,
Act 4, Scene 2
Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and SEXTON, in gowns; and the Watch, with
CONRADE and BORACHIO.
DOGBERRY: Is our whole dissembly [assembly] appeared?
VERGES: O! a stool and a cushion for the sexton.
Sexton. Which be the malefactors [wrongdoers]?
DOGBERRY: Marry, that am I and my
VERGES: Nay, that’s certain: we have the exhibition [malapropism for commission or experience] to
Sexton. But which are the offenders that are to be examined?
let them come before Master constable.
DOGBERRY: Yea, marry, let them come
before me. What is your name, friend?
DOGBERRY: Pray write down Borachio. Yours, sirrah?
CONRADE: I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is
DOGBERRY: Write down Master gentleman Conrade. Masters, do you
CONRADE & BORACHIO: Yea, sir, we hope.
DOGBERRY: Write down that they hope they serve God: and write
God first; for God defend but God should go before such villains!
Masters, it is proved already that you are little better than false
knaves, and it will go near to be thought so shortly [and we'll just about prove it shortly].
How answer you for
CONRADE: Marry, sir, we say we are
DOGBERRY: A marvellous witty fellow, I assure you; but I will
go about with him [but I will
trick him]. Come you hither, sirrah; a word in your ear:
sir, I say to you, it is thought you are false knaves.
BORACHIO: Sir, I say to you we are none.
DOGBERRY: Well, stand aside. ’Fore [before] God, they are both in a tale [they both say the same thing].
Have you writ down, that they are none?
Sexton. Master constable, you go not the way to examine: you
must call forth the watch that are their
DOGBERRY: Yea, marry, that’s the eftest
[easiest] way. Let the watch
come forth. Masters, I charge you, in the prince’s name, accuse
FIRST WATCH: This man said, sir, that Don John, the prince’s
brother, was a villain.
DOGBERRY: Write down Prince John a villain. Why, this is flat
perjury, to call a prince’s brother villain.
BORACHIO: Master constable,—
DOGBERRY: Pray thee, fellow, peace: I do not like thy look, I
Sexton. What heard you him say else?
SECOND WATCH: Marry, that he had
received a thousand ducats of Don John for accusing the Lady Hero
DOGBERRY: Flat burglary as ever was committed.
VERGES: Yea, by the mass, that it is.
Sexton. What else,
FIRST WATCH: And that Count Claudio did mean, upon his words,
to disgrace Hero before the whole assembly, and not marry
DOGBERRY: O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting
redemption [punishment; damnation;
hell] for this.
Sexton. What else?
SECOND WATCH: This is all.
Sexton. And this is more, masters, than you can deny. Prince
John is this morning secretly stolen away: Hero was in this manner
accused, in this very manner refused, and, upon the grief of this,
suddenly died. Master constable, let these men be bound, and brought
to Leonato’s: I will go before and show him their examination.
[And this . . . examination: This
is more than you two men can deny. By the way, Prince John
secretly ran away this morning. Hero was accused in the manner the
watchmen described, and the grief she suffered killed her. Master
constable, tie up these men and take them to Leonato. I will go
ahead of you and show him the examination.]
DOGBERRY: Come, let them be opinioned [pionioned]. [Come, let them be bound by the arms.]
VERGES: Let them be in the hands—
CONRADE: Off, coxcomb [fool;
DOGBERRY: God’s my life! where’s the sexton? let him write
down the prince’s officer coxcomb [officer
was called a coxcomb]. Come, bind them. Thou naughty varlet
CONRADE: Away! you are an ass; you are an
DOGBERRY: Dost thou not suspect [respect] my place [position]?
Dost thou not suspect [respect]
my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! but, masters,
remember that I am [called]
an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an
ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety [impiety], as shall be proved
upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow; and, which is more,
an officer; and, which is more, a householder; and, which is more,
as pretty a piece of flesh as any in Messina; and one that knows the
law, go to [and you can go to
hell]; and a rich fellow enough, go to [and you can go to hell]; and a
fellow that hath had losses; and one that hath two gowns, and
everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been
writ down an ass! [Exeunt.
Act 5, Scene 1
Before Leonato's house.
Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO.
ANTONIO: If you go on thus, you will kill
And ’tis not wisdom thus to second grief
[And 'tis . . . yourself: And it's
not wise to add more grief to your already-heavy burden.]
LEONATO: I pray thee, cease thy counsel [stop giving me advice],
Which falls into mine ears as profitless
As water in a sieve: give not me counsel;
Nor let no comforter delight mine ear
But such a one whose wrongs do suit with
[But such . . . mine: Except for
someone who's been wronged the way I have been]
Bring me a father that so lov’d his child,
Whose joy of her is overwhelm’d like mine,
And bid him speak of patience;
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine,
And let it answer every strain [grief]
for strain [grief],
As thus for thus and such a grief for such,
In every lineament [feature;
symptom; way], branch, shape, and form:
If such a one will smile, and stroke his beard;
Bid sorrow wag, cry ‘hem’ when he should groan,
Patch grief with proverbs; make misfortune
With candle-wasters; bring him yet to me,
And I of him will gather patience.
[If such . . . patience: If such a
person can smile and stroke his beard, telling me to say good-bye
to sorrow, bring him to me. If he merely clears his throat instead
of groaning—or recites proverbs that banish grief—bring him to me.
If he learns how to ease misfortune by reading advice in books
under the light of many candles, bring him to me. I will learn to
be patient from such a man.]
But there is no such man; for, brother, men
Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief
Which they themselves not feel; but, tasting
Their counsel turns to passion, which before
Would give preceptial medicine to rage,
Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
Charm ache with air and agony with words.
[But there is . . . with
words: [But there is no such man. Antonio, it's easy for men give
advice and comfort to a grieving person. But if those men never
experienced the pain of that grieving person, their advice means
nothing. However, if they have tasted terrible grief, they forget
about all their supposed remedies and lapse into confused anguish.
You can't tie up terrible grief or anguish with a silken thread.
You can't banish heartache or agony with magical charms or with
No, no; ’tis all men’s office to speak
To those that wring under the load of sorrow,
But no man’s virtue nor sufficiency
To be so moral when he shall endure
The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel:
My griefs cry louder than
[No . . . advertisement: All men
preach patience to those who suffer under the load of sorrow. But
these same men show no patience when they themselves experience
great sorrow. Therefore, don't give me any advice. My griefs are
too great to be relieved by any advice you give me.]
ANTONIO: Therein do men from children nothing
LEONATO: I pray thee, peace! I will be flesh and blood;
[I pray . . . blood: Please be
quiet! I am made of flesh and blood, not philosophical ideas.]
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
[However . . . sufferance: In
spite of what they have written down about coping with pain and
ANTONIO: Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself;
Make those that do offend you suffer too.
[But you're enduring all the
suffering yourself. Make those who offended you suffer too.]
LEONATO: There thou speak’st reason: nay, I will do
My soul doth tell me Hero is
And that shall Claudio know; so shall the prince,
And all of them that thus dishonour her.
[There . . . dishonour her: Now
that make's sense. My soul tells me that Hero is the victim of
lies. I'll tell that to Claudio, Don Pedro, and all the rest of
them who dishonor her.]
ANTONIO: Here come the prince and Claudio hastily.
Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO.
DON PEDRO: Good den, good den. [Good day, good day.]
CLAUDIO: Good day to both of you.
LEONATO: Hear you, my lords,—
DON PEDRO: We have some haste, Leonato. [We're in a hurry, Leonato.]
LEONATO: Some haste, my lord! well, fare you well, my
Are you so hasty now?—well, all is
[Some . . . is one: In a hurry!
Well, farewell. I guess you can just run off now that my daughter
is dead. Well, it doesn't matter.]
DON PEDRO: Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old
ANTONIO: If he could right himself with
Some of us would lie low.
[If he . . . low: If he could get
justice by quarreling, you would need to stay out of his way.]
CLAUDIO: Who wrongs him?
LEONATO: Marry, thou dost wrong me; thou
dissembler [pretender; deceiver],
Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword;
I fear thee not.
CLAUDIO: Marry, beshrew [curse] my hand,
If it should give your age such cause of fear.
In faith, my hand meant nothing to my
LEONATO: Tush, tush, man! never fleer [smirk] and jest at
I speak not like a dotard [senile old man] nor a fool,
As, under privilege of age, to brag
What I have done being young, or what would do,
Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy
Thou hast so wrong’d mine innocent child and me
That I am forc’d to lay my reverence by,
And, with grey hairs and bruise of many days,
Do challenge thee to trial of a man.
[I speak not . . . man: I am no
fool. Nor am I a senile old man who hides behind his age while
bragging about what he did when he was young or what he would do
if he were not old. Claudio, because you have wronged my innocent
child and me, I am forced to lay my old age aside and, with grey
hairs and bruises from the past, challenge you to a duel.]
I say thou hast belied mine innocent
Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,
And she lies buried with her ancestors;
O! in a tomb where never scandal slept,
Save this of hers, fram’d by thy villany!
LEONATO: Thine, Claudio; thine, I say.
DON PEDRO: You say not right, old man.
LEONATO: My lord, my lord,
I’ll prove it on his body, if he dare,
Despite his nice fence [skill at
fencing] and his active
His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.
CLAUDIO: Away! I will not have to do with you.
LEONATO: Canst thou so daff [disregard]
me? Thou hast kill’d my child;
If thou kill’st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
ANTONIO: He shall kill two of us, and men
But that’s no matter; let him kill one first:
Win me and wear me; let him answer me.
[He shall . . . answer me: He'll
have to kill both of us, and we are both real men. Let him kill me
and boast about it. Let him answer me.]
Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, follow me.
Sir boy, I’ll whip you from your foining fence; [I'll parry your sword thrusts]
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I
ANTONIO: Content yourself. God knows I lov’d my
And she is dead, slander’d to death by villains,
That dare as well answer a man indeed
As I dare take a serpent by the
Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks [knaves],
LEONATO: Brother Antony,—
ANTONIO: Hold you content. What, man! I know them,
And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple,
Scambling, out-facing, fashion-monging
That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,
Go antickly, show outward hideousness,
And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,
How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst;
And this is
[Hold you . . . is all: Just let
me speak, okay? I know them, yes, and what they're worth, even to
the tiniest part. They may wear the latest fashions, but they like
to scuffle with you and defy you. They lie, cheat, flout, scorn,
and slander you while prancing about in their fancy clothes. They
behave hideously and threaten you with dangerous words, if they
dare. That's the sum of it.]
LEONATO: But, brother Antony,—
ANTONIO: Come, ’tis no matter:
Do not you meddle, let me deal in [with]
DON PEDRO: Gentlemen both, we will not wake [test] your
My heart is sorry for your daughter’s
But, on my honour, she was charg’d with nothing
But what was true and very full of proof.
LEONATO: My lord, my lord—
DON PEDRO: I will not hear you. [I
will not listen to you.]
Come, brother, away. I will be heard.—
ANTONIO: And shall, or some of us will smart for it [or somebody will get hurt].
[Exeunt LEONATO and ANTONIO.
DON PEDRO: See, see; here comes the man we went to
CLAUDIO: Now, signior, what
BENEDICK: Good day, my lord.
DON PEDRO: Welcome, signior: you are almost come to part
almost a fray. [If you had arrived
a moment sooner, you might have become involved in a fray.]
CLAUDIO: We had like to have had our two noses snapped off
with two old men without teeth. [We
almost had our noses bitten off by two old men without teeth.]
DON PEDRO: Leonato and his brother. What thinkest thou? Had we
fought, I doubt we should have been too young for them.
[Had we . . . them: Had we fought,
I think we would have been too inexperienced to hold them back.
(Don Pedro is using irony.)]
BENEDICK: In a false quarrel there is no true valour. [In an unfair fight, there is no true
valor.] I came to seek you
CLAUDIO: We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are
high-proof melancholy, and would fain [like to] have it beaten away. Wilt thou use thy
BENEDICK: It is in my scabbard; shall I draw it?
DON PEDRO: Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side? [The scabbard holding his sword hangs
at his side.]
CLAUDIO: Never any did so, though very many have been beside
their wit. I will bid thee draw, as we do the minstrels; draw, to
[I will bid . . . us: I will
bid you to draw your weapon, just as we bid musicians to draw the
bows they use to wield against the strings of their instruments.
Go ahead, draw, and show us some moves.]
DON PEDRO: As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou
CLAUDIO: What, courage, man! What though care [worry; fear] killed a cat, thou
hast mettle [strength]
enough in thee to kill care.
BENEDICK: Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, an you
charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.
[Sir . . . me: Sir, my wit can
defeat your wit even if you poise it against me like a charging
knight in a joust. (Career
can mean charging forward at great speed.)]
CLAUDIO: Nay then, give him another staff: this last was broke
cross. [Give him another lance.
His other one broke in half.]
DON PEDRO: By this light, he changes more and more: I think he
be angry indeed. [His mood is
changing more and more. I think he's angry.]
CLAUDIO: If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle. [Turning a girdle (belt) around was
similar to throwing down a gauntlet—that is, challenging someone
to a duel.]
BENEDICK: Shall I speak a word in your ear?
CLAUDIO: God bless [protect]
me from a challenge!
BENEDICK: [Aside to CLAUDIO.] You
are a villain; I jest not: I will make it good how you dare, with
what you dare, and when you dare. Do me right, or I will protest
your cowardice. You have killed a sweet lady, and her death shall
fall heavy on you. Let me hear from you.
[I will make . . . cowardice: I
will duel you in any way you like. Choose the weapons and time. Do
so or I will call you a coward.]
CLAUDIO: Well I will meet you, so I may have good cheer. [I will meet you and have myself a good
DON PEDRO: What, a feast, a
CLAUDIO: I’ faith, I thank him; he hath bid me to a [feast of] calf’s-head and a
capon, the which if I do not carve most curiously, say my knife’s
naught [he'll say I don't know how
to use a knife]. Shall I not find a woodcock
BENEDICK: Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily. [Sir, your wit limps along at a slow
DON PEDRO: I’ll tell thee how Beatrice praised thy wit the
other day. I said, thou hadst a fine wit. ‘True,’ says she, ‘a fine
little one.’ ‘No,’ said I, ‘a great wit.’ ‘Right,’ said she, ‘a
great gross [coarse; vulgar]
one.’ ‘Nay,’ said I, ‘a good wit.’ ‘Just,’ said she, ‘it hurts
nobody.’ [Yes, it's so good it
doesn't hurt anybody. It's ineffective.] ‘Nay,’ said I,
‘the gentleman is wise [is a
wisecracker].’ ‘Certain,’ said she, ‘a wise gentleman’ [a wise old gentleman]. ‘Nay,’
said I, ‘he hath the tongues’[he
speaks many languages]. ‘That
I believe,’ said she, ‘for he swore a thing to me on Monday night,
which he forswore on Tuesday morning: there’s a double tongue;
there’s two tongues.’ Thus did she, an hour together, trans-shape [reshape] thy particular
virtues; yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the
properest man in Italy.
CLAUDIO: For the which she wept heartily and said she cared
DON PEDRO: Yea, that she did; but yet, for all that, an if she
did not hate him deadly [to death],
she would love him dearly. The old man’s daughter told us
CLAUDIO: All, all; and moreover, God saw him when he was hid
in the garden.
DON PEDRO: But when shall we set the savage bull’s horns on
the sensible Benedick’s head? [See pluck off for the meaning of
CLAUDIO: Yea, and text underneath, ‘Here dwells Benedick the
BENEDICK: Fare you well, boy: you know my mind. I will leave
you now to your gossip-like [trivial;
not piercing] humour: you break jests as braggarts do their
blades, which, God be thanked, hurt not. My lord, for your many
courtesies I thank you: I must discontinue your company. Your
brother the bastard is fled from Messina: you have, among you,
killed a sweet and innocent lady. For my Lord Lack-beard there, he
and I shall meet; and till then, peace be with him.
[Lack-beard: An insult saying
Claudio is not a real man, for he doesn't even have a beard.]
DON PEDRO: He is in
CLAUDIO: In most profound earnest; and, I’ll warrant you, for
the love of Beatrice.
DON PEDRO: And hath challenged thee?
CLAUDIO: Most sincerely.
DON PEDRO: What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his
doublet and hose and leaves off his wit! [What a pretty thing is a man when he walks about in his
dueling clothes but forgets to wear his wit (intelligence).]
CLAUDIO: He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape a
doctor to such a man. [Even so, he
is a giant compared to an ape, but then again an ape is a scholar
compared to such a man.]
DON PEDRO: But, soft you; let me be: pluck up, my heart, and
be sad! Did he not say my brother was fled? [But wait a minute. Let me pluck up my
heart and be serious for a minute. Didn't he say my brother ran
away? (Don Pedro is beginning to realize he doesn't know the whole
story concerning the accusations against Hero.)]
Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO.
DOGBERRY: Come, you, sir: if justice cannot tame [convict] you, she shall ne’er
weigh more reasons in her balance. Nay, an [if] you be a cursing hypocrite
once, you must be looked to.
DON PEDRO: How now! two of my brother’s men bound! Borachio,
one! [What now? Two of my
brother's men are tied up. One is Borachio.]
CLAUDIO: Hearken after [inquire
about] their offence, my
DON PEDRO: Officers, what offence have these men
DOGBERRY: Marry, sir, they have
committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths;
secondarily, they are slanders [slanderers];
sixth and lastly, they have belied [lied
about] a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things;
and to conclude, they are lying knaves.
DON PEDRO: First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I
ask thee what’s their offence; sixth and lastly, why they are
committed [in custody];
and, to conclude, what you lay to their charge [what are you charging them with]?
CLAUDIO: Rightly reasoned, and in his own division [and in his own language]; and,
by my troth, there’s one meaning well suited [and, in truth, there's only one
meaning to everything he says].
DON PEDRO: Who have you offended, masters, that you are thus
bound to your answer [that you are
thus bound to await trial]? this learned constable is too
cunning to be understood. What’s your
BORACHIO: Sweet prince, let me go no further to mine answer:
do you hear me, and let this count kill me. I have deceived even
your very eyes: what your wisdoms could not discover, these shallow
fools have brought to light; who, in the night overheard me
confessing to this man how Don John your brother incensed [urged] me to slander the Lady
Hero; how you were brought into the orchard and saw me court
Margaret in Hero’s garments; how you disgraced her, when you should
marry her [have her marry Claudio].
My villany they have upon record; which I had rather seal with my
death than repeat over to my shame. The lady is dead upon mine and
my master’s false accusation; and, briefly, I desire nothing but the
reward of a villain.
DON PEDRO: Runs not this speech like iron through your
CLAUDIO: I have drunk poison whiles he utter’d it.
DON PEDRO: But did my brother set thee on to this?
BORACHIO: Yea; and paid me richly for the practice of
DON PEDRO: He is compos’d and fram’d of treachery:
And fled he is upon [because of]
CLAUDIO: Sweet Hero! now thy image doth appear
In the rare semblance [likeness]
that I lov’d it first.
DOGBERRY: Come, bring away the plaintiffs [defendants]: by this time our
sexton hath reformed [informed]
Signior Leonato of the matter. And masters, do not forget to
specify, when time and place shall serve, that I am an
VERGES: Here, here comes Master Signior Leonato, and the
Re-enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, and the Sexton.
LEONATO: Which is the villain? Let me see his
That, when I note another man like him,
I may avoid him. Which of these is
BORACHIO: If you would know your wronger, look on
LEONATO: Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast
Mine innocent child?
BORACHIO: Yea, even I alone.
LEONATO: No, not so, villain; thou beliest thyself [misrepresent the fact]:
Here stand a pair of honourable men;
A third is fled, that had a hand in it.
I thank you, princes, for my daughter’s death:
Record it with your high and worthy deeds.
’Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of
CLAUDIO: I know not how to pray your patience;
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself;
Impose me to what penance your invention
Can lay upon my sin: yet sinn’d I not
DON PEDRO: By my soul, nor I:
And yet, to satisfy this good old man,
I would bend under any heavy weight
That he’ll enjoin me to.
LEONATO: I cannot bid you bid my daughter
That were impossible: but, I pray you both,
Possess [tell] the people
in Messina here
How innocent she died; and if your love
Can labour aught [anything]
in sad invention,
Hang her an epitaph upon her
And sing it to her bones: sing it to-night.
[and if your . . . to-night: And
if your love can produce a worthy tribute to her, put it in the
form of an epitaph and hang it on her tomb. Then sing the words to
To-morrow morning come you to my house,
And since you could not be my son-in-law,
Be yet my nephew. My brother hath a daughter,
Almost the copy of my child that’s
And she alone is heir to both of us:
Give her the right you should have given her cousin,
And so dies my revenge.
CLAUDIO: O noble sir,
Your over-kindness doth wring tears from
I do embrace your offer; and dispose
For henceforth of poor Claudio.
[and dispose . . . Claudio: And
put myself at your disposal from now on.]
LEONATO: To-morrow then I will expect your coming;
To-night I take my leave. This naughty man
Shall face to face be brought to
Who, I believe, was pack’d in [took
part in] all this wrong,
Hir’d to it by your brother.
BORACHIO: No, by my soul she was not;
Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me;
But always hath been just and
In anything that I do know by her.
DOGBERRY: Moreover, sir,—which, indeed, is not under white and
black,—this plaintiff here, the offender, did call me ass: I beseech
you, let it be remembered in his punishment. And also, the watch
heard them talk of one Deformed: they say he wears a key in his ear
and a lock hanging by it, and borrows money in God’s name, the which
he hath used so long and never paid, that now men grow hard-hearted,
and will lend nothing for God’s sake. Pray you, examine him upon
[Moreover . . .that point:
Moreover, sir, the defendant here called me an ass. That offense
was not written down in black ink on white paper. I beg you,
remember that fact when the time comes to punish him. And also,
the watch heard these men talk about a man named Deformed. (See 3.3.54-55.) They say he has a key and a
lock hanging from his ear. He borrows money in God's name. But
because he never pays it back, other men have become hard-hearted
and refuse to lend money in God's name. Please examine this man on
LEONATO: I thank thee for thy care and honest
DOGBERRY: Your worship speaks like a most thankful and
reverend youth, and I praise God for you.
LEONATO: There’s for thy pains. [Leonato gives him money.]
DOGBERRY: God save the foundation! [God save the noble source of this gift.]
LEONATO: Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank
DOGBERRY: I leave an arrant knave with your worship; which I
beseech your worship to correct yourself [I beseech your worship to punish him], for the
example of others. God keep your worship! I wish your worship well;
God restore you to [maintain your
good] health! I humbly give you [beg your] leave to depart, and if a merry meeting
may be wished, God prohibit [permit]
it! Come, neighbour. [Exeunt DOGBERRY
LEONATO: Until to-morrow morning, lords, farewell.
ANTONIO: Farewell, my lords: we look for you
DON PEDRO: We will not fail.
CLAUDIO: To-night I’ll mourn with Hero. [Exeunt DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO.
LEONATO: [To the WATCHMAN:] Bring you these fellows on.
We’ll talk with Margaret,
How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow. [Exeunt.
[Bring . . . fellow: Bring these
villains with us. We need to talk with Margaret to find out how
she got involved with this evil Borachio.]
Act 5, Scene 2
Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET, meeting.
BENEDICK: Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at
my hands by helping me to the speech of Beatrice [by calling Margaret for me].
MARGARET: Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my
BENEDICK: In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living
shall come over it [get over];
for, in most comely truth, thou deservest
MARGARET: To have no man come over me! why, shall I always
keep below stairs?
BENEDICK: Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s mouth; it
catches [as the greyhound's mouth
when it snaps shut].
MARGARET: And yours as blunt as the fencer’s foils [swords with blunted tips],
which hit, but hurt not.
BENEDICK: A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a
woman: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice. I give thee the
[buckler: Small shield attached to
the forearm or held by a handle on the back. "I give thee the
bucklers" means that Benedick recognizes Margaret as the winner of
their match of wits.]
MARGARET: Give us the swords, we have bucklers of our own. [Another example of Margaret unabashed
witticisms. Swords and bucklers appear to represent the male and
femal sex organs.]
BENEDICK: If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the pikes
with a vice; and they are dangerous weapons for maids.
[pike: Spike sometimes affixed to
the center of the buckler with a screw (vice). (Benedick is
responding to Margaret's witticism. Notice the phrase "dangerous
weapons for maids.")]
MARGARET: Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath
BENEDICK: And therefore will come. [Exit MARGARET.
The god of love,
That sits above,
And knows me, and knows me,
How pitiful I deserve,—
I mean, in singing; but in loving, Leander the good swimmer, Troilus
the first employer of pandars, and a whole book full of these
quondam carpet-mongers, whose names yet run smoothly in the even
road of a blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned over and
over as my poor self, in love. Marry, I cannot
show it in rime; I have tried: I can find out no rime to ‘lady’ but
‘baby,’ an innocent rime; for ‘scorn,’ ‘horn,’ a hard rime; for
‘school,’ ‘fool,’ a babbling rime; very ominous endings: no, I was
not born under a riming planet, nor I cannot woo in festival
[I mean . . . terms: I mean to say
that I am pitiful in singing. However, in loving I exceed in
intensity the love that Leander andTroilus (in classical
mythology, characters in love stories) felt for their ladies. In
fact, my love is greater than the love celebrated in a whole book
of poetry about legendary lovers whose names flow rhythmically in
poetry. Why, they were never so truly in love as my poor self. I
cannot capture my love in rhyme; I have tried. I can find no rime
for lady but baby, an innocent rhyme. For scorn there is horn, a
hard rhyme; for school there is fool, a babbling rhyme. According
to astrology, I was not born under a planet that imparts the gift
of rhyme. Nor can I woo in the language of merrymakers at
Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee? [Beatrice, did you come because I
BEATRICE: Yea, signior; and depart when you bid
BENEDICK: O, stay but till then!
BEATRICE: ‘Then’ is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere [before] I go, let me go with
that I came for; which is, with knowing what hath passed between you
BENEDICK: Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss
BEATRICE: Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but
foul breath, and foul breath is noisome [annoying]; therefore I will depart
BENEDICK: Thou hast frighted the word [the word foul in line 20] out of his right sense,
so forcible is thy wit. But I must tell thee plainly, Claudio
undergoes my challenge, and either I must shortly hear from him, or
I will subscribe him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me, for
which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with
BEATRICE: For them all together; which maintained so politic [complete] a state of evil that
they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for
which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?
BENEDICK: ‘Suffer love,’ a good epithet! I do suffer love
indeed, for I love thee against my will.
BEATRICE: In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor heart!
If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours; for I will
never love that which my friend hates.
BENEDICK: Thou and I are too wise to woo
BEATRICE: It appears not in this confession: there’s not one
wise man among twenty that will praise himself. [How can you be wise? According to the
old saying, not even one wise man in twenty will praise himself.
Since you just praised yourself, you're not wise.]
BENEDICK: An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in the
time of good neighbours. [That
saying no longer applies in today's world.] If a man do not
erect in this age his own tomb ere [before]
he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than the bell rings and
the widow weeps.
BEATRICE: And how long is that think you?
BENEDICK: Question: why, an hour in clamour [an hour for bell-ringing] and a
quarter in rheum [and fifteen
minutes for weeping]: therefore it is most expedient for
the wise,—if Don Worm, his conscience, find no impediment to the
contrary [if my concscience does
not gnaw at me like a worm]—to be the trumpet of his own
virtues, as I am to myself. So much for praising myself, who, I
myself will bear witness, is praiseworthy. And now tell me, how doth
BENEDICK: And how do you?
BEATRICE: Very ill too.
BENEDICK: Serve God, love me, and mend. There will I leave you
too, for here comes one in haste.
URSULA: Madam, you must come to your uncle. Yonder’s old coil
at home [there is a lot of
commontion at his home]: it is proved, my Lady Hero hath
been falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily abused; and
Don John is the author of all, who is fled and gone. Will you come
BEATRICE: Will you go hear this news, signior?
BENEDICK: 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
Act 5, Scene 3
The inside of a church.
Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and Attendants, with music and tapers [thin candles].
CLAUDIO: Is this the monument of Leonato?
A Lord. It is, my lord.
CLAUDIO: [Reads from a scroll.]
Done to death by slanderous tongues
Was the Hero that here lies:
Death, in guerdon [reward]
of her wrongs,
Gives her fame which never dies.
So the life that died with shame
Lives in death with glorious
[Claudio hangs a scroll]
Hang thou there upon the tomb,
Praising her when I am dumb [dead].
Now, music, sound, and sing your solemn hymn.
Pardon, goddess of the night,
Those that slew thy virgin knight;
For the which, with songs of woe,
Round about her tomb they go.
Midnight, assist our moan;
Help us to sigh and groan,
Graves, yawn and yield your dead,
Till death be uttered [mourned],
CLAUDIO: Now, unto thy bones good night! [Now unto your bones, Hero, I bid good
Yearly will I do this rite.
DON PEDRO: Good morrow, masters: put your torches
The wolves have prey’d; and look, the gentle day,
Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
Dapples the drowsy east with spots of
Thanks to you all, and leave us: fare you well.
[Phoebus: Phoebus Apollo, the sun
god in classical mythology. He was depicted as driving a golden
chariot (the sun) across the sky each day.]
CLAUDIO: Good morrow [good
day; good morning], masters: each his several [separate] way.
DON PEDRO: Come, let us hence [go], and put on other weeds [clothes];
And then to Leonato’s we will go.
CLAUDIO: And Hymen [in
classical mythology, the god of marriage] now with luckier
issue [child of Leonato]
speed ’s, [speed us]
Than this for whom we render’d up this woe! [Exeunt.
Act 5, Scene 4
A room in Leonato's house.
Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, BENEDICK, BEATRICE, MARGARET, URSULA, FRIAR
FRANCIS, and HERO.
FRIAR: Did I not tell you she was innocent?
LEONATO: So are the prince and Claudio, who accus’d
Upon the error that you heard
But Margaret was in some fault for this,
Although against her will, as it appears
In the true course of all the question.
ANTONIO: Well, I am glad that all things sort so
BENEDICK: And so am I, being else by faith
To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.
[And so . . . for it: I'm glad
too. Otherwise, I would have had to fight a duel with young
LEONATO: Well, daughter, and you gentlewomen all,
Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,
And when I send for you, come hither [here] mask’d:
The prince and Claudio promis’d by this
To visit me. [Exeunt ladies.
You know your office, brother;
You must be father to your brother’s daughter,
And give her to young Claudio.
ANTONIO: Which I will do with confirm’d countenance [which I will do without giving our
BENEDICK: Friar, I must entreat your pains, I
FRIAR: To do what, signior?
BENEDICK: To bind me, or undo me; one of them.
Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,
Your niece regards me with an eye of
LEONATO: That eye my daughter lent her: ’tis most
BENEDICK: And I do with an eye of love requite her. [And I only have eyes for her.]
LEONATO: The sight whereof I think, you had from
From Claudio, and the prince. But what’s your will?
BENEDICK: Your answer, sir, is enigmatical [puzzling]:
But, for my will, my will is your good will
May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin’d
In the state of honourable marriage:
[But, for . . . marriage: But, as
for my will, I desire you to approve a marriage today between
Beatrice and me.]
In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.
LEONATO: My heart is with your
FRIAR: And my help.
Here come the prince and Claudio.
Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO, with Attendants.
DON PEDRO: Good morrow [good
day; good morning] to this fair assembly.
LEONATO: Good morrow, prince; good morrow,
We here attend you. Are you yet determin’d
To-day to marry with my brother’s daughter?
CLAUDIO: I’ll hold my mind, were she an Ethiop [Ethiopian].
LEONATO: Call her forth, brother: here’s the friar
ready. [Exit ANTONIO.
DON PEDRO: Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what’s the
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?
CLAUDIO: I think he thinks upon the savage bull.
Tush! fear not, man, we’ll tip thy horns with gold,
And all Europa shall rejoice at
As once Europa did at lusty Jove,
in line 50 refers to the continent of Europe. Europa in line 51 refers to a
Phoenician princess in Greek mythology. The king of the gods, Zeus
(Roman name Jupiter or Jove), fell in love with her, then took the
form of a gentle white bull and mingled with a herd of her
father's cattle. When Europa saw it, she stroked the bull and
climbed onto its back. Zeus (Jove) then abducted her to the
Mediterranean island of Crete. She became queen of Crete and bore
Zeus three children.]
When he would play the noble beast in love.
BENEDICK: Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low:
And some such strange bull leap’d your father’s cow,
And got a calf in that same noble
Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.
[Bull Jove . . . bleat: As a bull,
Jove bellowed (or mooed) amiably. It was such a strange bull that
leaped on your father's cow and begot a calf that looked and
sounded just like you.]
CLAUDIO: For this I owe you: here come other
[For this . . . reckonings: I'll
pay you back for that insult. Here come other matters requiring
Re-enter ANTONIO, with the ladies masked.
Which is the lady I must seize upon?
ANTONIO: This same is she, and I do give you
CLAUDIO: Why, then she’s mine. Sweet, let me see your
LEONATO: No, that you shall not, till you take her
Before this friar, and swear to marry her.
CLAUDIO: Give me your hand: before this holy
I am your husband, if you like of
HERO: And when I liv’d, I was your other wife:
And when you lov’d, you were my other husband.
CLAUDIO: Another Hero!
HERO: Nothing certainer:
One Hero died defil’d, but I do
And surely as I live, I am a maid [virgin].
DON PEDRO: The former Hero! Hero that is dead!
LEONATO: She died, my lord, but whiles her slander
FRIAR: All this amazement can I qualify:
When after that the holy rites are
I’ll tell you largely of fair Hero’s death:
Meantime, let wonder seem familiar,
And to the chapel let us presently.
BENEDICK: Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?
BEATRICE: [Unmasking.] I answer to that
What is your will?
BENEDICK: Do not you love me?
BEATRICE: Why, no; no more than reason.
BENEDICK: Why, then, your uncle and the prince and
Have been deceived; for they swore you
BEATRICE: Do not you love me?
BENEDICK: Troth [truly],
no; no more than reason.
BEATRICE: Why, then, my cousin, Margaret, and
Are much deceiv’d; for they did swear you did.
BENEDICK: They swore that you were almost sick for
BEATRICE: They swore that you were well-nigh dead for
BENEDICK: ’Tis no such matter. Then, you do not love
BEATRICE: No, truly, but in friendly recompense. [Only as a friend.]
LEONATO: Come, cousin, I am sure you love the
CLAUDIO: And I’ll be sworn upon ’t that he loves
For here’s a paper written in his hand,
A halting sonnet of his own pure brain,
Fashion’d to Beatrice.
HERO: And here’s another,
Writ in my cousin’s hand, stolen from her
Containing her affection unto Benedick.
BENEDICK: A miracle! here’s our own hands against our hearts.
Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take thee for [out of] pity.
BEATRICE: I would not deny you; but, by this good day, I yield
upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life, for I was told
you were in a consumption [were
wasting away for lack of my love].
BENEDICK: Peace! I will stop your mouth. [Kisses
DON PEDRO: How dost thou, Benedick, the married
BENEDICK: I’ll tell thee what, prince; a college of
witcrackers [wisecracking persons]
cannot flout [drive] me out
of my humour [good humor]. Dost thou think I care for a satire or an
epigram [clever or witty
statement]? No; if a man will be beaten with brains [beaten by the opinions of others],
a’ [he] shall wear nothing
handsome about him [he won't wear
handsome clothes for fear that someone will criticize them].
In brief, since I do purpose [plan]
to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say
against it [I won't think about
what people will say about the marriage]; and therefore
never flout [poke fun] at
me for what I have said against it [marriage],
for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion. For thy part,
Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but, in that thou art like
to be my kinsman, live unbruised, and love my cousin.
CLAUDIO: I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice,
that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single life, to make
thee a double-dealer; which, out of question, thou wilt be, if my
cousin do not look exceeding narrowly to thee.
[I had . . . to thee: I had well
hoped that you would have refused to marry Beatrice. That decision
would have given me an opportunity to force you to marry and then
turn you into an unfaithful husband, which. Of course, that's what
you will be if Beatrice doesn't keep a close eye on you.]
BENEDICK: Come, come, we are friends. Let’s have a dance ere [before] we are married, that we
may lighten our own hearts and our wives’ heels.
LEONATO: We’ll have dancing afterward.
BENEDICK: First, of my word; therefore play, music! Prince,
thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee a wife: there is no staff
more reverend than one tipped with
[First . . . horn: No, we'll have
dancing first. Let's have music! Don Pedro, you are sad. Get
yourself a wife. Your scepter as a prince will receive more
respect if you are married.]
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER: My lord, your brother John is ta’en in
And brought with armed men back to Messina.
BENEDICK: Think not on him till to-morrow: I’ll devise thee brave
punishments for him. Strike up, pipers! [Dance. Exeunt.