Much Ado About Nothing
This play opens with Leonato, Governor of Messina, announcing to his friends and family the imminent arrival of his friend, Don Pedro, and his companions, the young and renowned Claudio and the famously witty Benedick, from war to visit Leonato and his family. Soon after their arrival, Claudio falls in love with Hero, Leonato’s daughter. Don Pedro offers to woo Hero on Claudio’s behalf.
Don John, Don Pedro’s illegitimate and malcontent brother, attempts to thwart the intended marriage. Don John’s henchman Borachio will make it look as though he is wooing Hero at her chamber window, it will actually be Margaret. Don John will bring Claudio and Don Pedro to see them so that they will think that Hero is involved with another man.
Delighted with the success of his first matchmaking attempt with Claudio and Hero, Don Pedro decides to trick Benedick and Beatrice into falling in love with each other with the help of their friends. Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato stage a conversation for an eavesdropping Benedick about how Beatrice is in love with him. Their trick works, and Benedick decides to leave the single life behind and love Beatrice. Hero and Ursula similarly trick Beatrice into thinking Benedick is in love with her, and she in turn falls in love with Benedick.
That night, Don Pedro and Claudio are convinced, through Don John’s deception, that Hero is unfaithful. The next day at the supposed wedding Claudio violently rejects Hero in front of the whole assembly. After they leave, a friar persuades Leonato to rumor it that Hero has died in order to gain time to figure out what has happened. In the aftermath of the failed wedding, Benedick and Beatrice confess their love for one another, and Beatrice persuades Benedick to challenge Claudio.
Meantime, the town watchmen, led by Dogberry and Verges, overhear a drunken Borrachio confessing his crimes (and Don John’s involvement) to his fellow henchman, Conrade, and arrest them. Leonato and his brother, Antonio, quarrel with Claudio and Don Pedro; after they leave Benedick challenges Claudio to a duel. Dogberry and the watch enter with Borachio and Conrade, and Borachio confesses Hero’s innocence and his and Don John’s villainy. Leonato and Antonio convince the penitent Claudio that he can atone for his ill deeds by marrying a niece of Antonio’s who looks very similar to Hero--but it will actually be Hero whom he marries. In the final scene, Hero is revealed to be alive, Benedick and Beatrice are confronted with their love for one another and resolve to marry, and a messenger reveals that Don John has been captured while fleeing Messina.