Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespare

Adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh

Scene 1: Two Merry Couples [scene runs from 10:11 to 13:49. For those with DVDs, it begins two minutes and five seconds before the end of ch. 3.]

[Before the house of Leonato, governor of Messina. Benedick, having returned from the wars with Don Pedro and his men, takes note of Beatrice, between whom, in the words of Leonato, Beatrice's uncle and guardian, there has long been "a kind of merry war," for "they never meet but there a skirmish of wit between them."]

Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?

Beatrice: Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signor 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 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 have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humor for that: 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 escape a predestinate scratched face.

Beatrice: Scratching could not make it worse, if it were such a face as yours were.

Benedick: Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.

Beatrice: A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

Benedick: I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer. But keep your way, in God's name; I have done.

Beatrice: You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old.

Don Pedro: That is the sum of all, Leonato. Signor Claudio and Signor Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath invited you all. I tell him we shall stay here at the least a month. Expressions of approval from those present.

Leonato: turning to Don John: Let me bid you welcome, my lord. Being reconciled to the prince your brother, I owe you all duty.

Don John: I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you Shakes hand heartily with Leonato.

Applause from those present

Leonato: to Don Pedro: Please it, your grace, lead on?

Don Pedro: Your hand, Leonato. We will go together.

All exit except Benedick and Claudio.

Claudio: Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signor Leonato?

Benedick: I noted her not, but I looked on her.

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 judgment.

Benedick: Why, in 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 her.

Claudio: Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly how thou likest her.

Benedick: Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?

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?

Looking up, they see Hero and several other women looking down though a window at them, and laughing.

Claudio: In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.

Benedick: I can see yet without spectacles and I see no such matter. There's her cousin, 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 the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.

Benedick: Is it come to this? In faith, hath not the world one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of three-score again?

Scene 2: The Villain [scene runs from 17:12 to 18:48. For those with DVDS, it begins with ch. 6.]

Don John is being given a massage by Conrad in a room in Leonato's house.

Conrad: What the good-year, my lord! Why are you thus out of measure sad?

Don John: There is no measure in the occasion that breeds. Therefore the sadness is without limit.

Conrad: You should hear reason.

Don John: And when I have heard it? What blessing brings it?
sitting up, 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 humor.

Conrad: Yea, but you must not make the full show of this till you may do so without controlment. You have of late stood out against your brother, and he hath taken you newly into his grace; where it is impossible you should take true root but by the fair weather that you make yourself.

Don John: I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace. 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. 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 me.

Scene 3. Beatrice's Philosophy [scene runs from 20:11 to 23:29 . For those with DVDS, it begins three minutes and seven seconds before the end of ch. 7.]

On their way to a dance, Leonato, Hero, Beatrice, and others pass Don John and his friends.

Leonato: Was not Count John here at supper?

Antonio: I saw him not.

Beatrice: How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see him but I am heart-burned an hour after.

Hero: He is of a very melancholy disposition.

Beatrice: He were an excellent man that were made just in the midway 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 tattling.

Leonato: Then half Signor Benedick's tongue in Count John's mouth, and half Count John's melancholy in Signor Benedick's face.

Beatrice: With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman in the world, if he could get her good will.

Leonato: By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.

Beatrice: Lord, I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face. I'd rather lie in the woollen.

Leonato: You may light on a husband that hath no beard.

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.

Antonio: In faith, she's too curst.

Leonato: Well, then, go you into hell?

Beatrice: No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet me, like an old cuckold, with horns on his head, and say "Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven. Here's no place for you maids." So 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 hope you will be ruled by your father.

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 me."

Leonato: to Hero: Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer. Hero hugs her father.

to Beatrice: Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.

Beatrice: Not till God make men of some other metal than earth.

Leonato: Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

Beatrice: I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight.

Leonato: The revelers are entering!

Don Pedro: masked, speaking to Hero: Lady, will you walk about with your friend? They run off together.

Scene 4: Matches Made and Planned [scene runs from 30:32 to 35:47. For those with DVDS
it begins three and a half minutes into ch. 9.]

Beatrice: I have brought Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.

Don Pedro: Why, how now, count! wherefore are thou 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, and something of that jealous complexion.

Don Pedro: In faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true, though, I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won: I have broke with her father, and his good will obtained. Name the day of marriage, and God give thee joy!

Leonato: Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes. His grace hath made the match, and all grace say Amen to it.

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.

Claudio and Hero walk toward each other, and gaze at each other lovingly.

Beatrice: Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth with a kiss, and let not him speak neither.

Hero kisses him. Applause.

Don Pedro: In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.

Beatrice: Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on the windy side of care. My cousin tells him in his ear that he is in her heart.

Claudio: And so she doth, cousin.

They walk away. Beatrice walks over to a bench and sits, followed by Don Pedro.

Beatrice: Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!

Don Pedro: Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.

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.

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.

Don Pedro: Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for, out of 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. 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 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 husband.

Leonato: O, by no means.

Don Pedro: She were an excellent wife for Benedict.


Leonato: If they were but a week married, they would talk themselves mad.

Don Pedro: County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?

Claudio: Tomorrow, my lord.

Leonato: Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just seven-night; and a time too brief, too, to have all things answer my mind.

Don Pedro: I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go dully by us. I will in the interim undertake one of Hercules' labors; which is, to bring Signor Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection the one with the other. I would fain have it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it, if you 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.

Claudio: And I, my lord.

Don Pedro: And you too, gentle Hero?

Hero: I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to a good husband.

Don Pedro: 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.

Scene 5. The Match Executed [the first scene runs from 40:56 to 47:42. For those with DVDS, it begins four minutes and 54 seconds into ch. 12. The second scene runs from 49:28 to 50:47. Fr those with DVDS, it is the last minute and half of ch. 13.]

In the garden outside of Leonato's house. Benedick is listening from behind the shrubbery to a report that Leonato and Claudio give to Don Pedro.

Don Pedro: Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of today, that your niece Beatrice was in love with Signor Benedick?

Claudio: 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 Signor Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.

Benedick: to himself: Is it possible?

Don Pedro: May be she doth but counterfeit.

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.

Don Pedro: Why? What effects of passion shows she?

Claudio: Aside, Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.

Leonato: What effects, my lord? You heard my daughter tell you how.

Claudio: She did, indeed.

Don Pedro: How, pray you? They whisper. You amaze me.

Benedick: to himself: I should think this a trick, but that the grey-bearded fellow speaks it.

Don Pedro: Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?

Leonato: No; and swears she never will: that's her torment. She'll be up twenty times a night, and there will she sit in her smock till she have writ a sheet of paper.

Claudio: Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, curses; "sweet Benedick! God give me patience!"

Leonato: She doth indeed; my daughter says so. My daughter is sometime afeared she will do a desperate outrage to herself. It is very true.

Don Pedro: It were good that Benedick knew of it.

Claudio: To what end? He would make but a sport of it and torment the poor lady worse.

Leonato: I am sorry for her.

Don Pedro: I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear what 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 she make her love known, and she will die, if he woo her.

Don Pedro: If she should make tender of her love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn it; for the man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.

Benedick cries out, almost revealing himself, but then imitates a bird to cover his outburst.

Don Pedro: I love Benedick well. And I could wish he would modestly examine himself, to see how much he is unworthy so good a lady.

Leonato: My lord, will you walk? Dinner is ready.

Claudio: to Don Pedro, as they walk away: If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never trust my expectation.

Don Pedro: Let there be the same net spread for her; and that must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.

Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato leave.

Benedick: coming forward: This can be no trick: the conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady. Love me! why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censured: 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: happy are they that hear their detractions and can put them to mending. They say the lady is fair; 'tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous; 'tis so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of 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? a man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. Shall these quips and sentences and paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humor? 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 her.

Beatrice enters.

Beatrice: Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.

Benedick: Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.

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 come.

Benedick: You take pleasure then in the message?

Beatrice: Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach, Signor: fare you well. [leaves]

Benedick: Ha! sitting and ruminating, "Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner;" there's a double meaning in that.

[the next scene runs from 49:28 to 50:47. For those with DVDS, it is the last minute and half of ch. 13.]

Similarly, Hero and Ursula let Beatrice overhear that Benedick is in love with her.

Beatrice: Coming forward, What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true? Stand I condemned for pride and scorn so much? Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu! No glory lives behind the back of such. And, Benedick, love on. I will requite thee, 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 band. For others say thou dost deserve, and I believe it. Better than reportingly.

Scene 6: The Watch Charged [the scene runs from 51:06 to 54:23. For those with DVDS, it occurs at the beginning of ch. 14.]

A street in Messina. Three men, who constitute the watch, stand at attention when Dogberry and Verges enter.

Dogberry: Are you good men and true?

Watchmen: Fight, fight, yea.

Dogberry: This is your charge: you are to bid any man stand, in the prince's name.

A watchman: How if he will not stand?

Dogberry: Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go.

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 with none but the prince's subjects. You shall also make no noise in the streets.

A watchman: We will rather sleep than talk.

Dogberry: Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet watchman; for I cannot see how sleeping should offend. If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your office, to be no true man; and, for such kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them, why the more is for your honesty.

Verges: You have been always called a merciful man, partner.

Dogberry: Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more a man who hath any honesty in him.

Verges: 'Tis very true.

Dogberry drifts off to sleep, then awakens.
Dogberry: Well, masters, good night. If there be any matter of weight chances, call up me.

A watchman: We hear our charge: let us go sit here upon the bench till two, and then all to bed.

Dogberry: returning, One word more, honest neighbors. I pray you watch about Signor Leonato's door; for the wedding being there tomorrow, there is a great coil to-night. Adieu: be vigitant, I beseech you.

Scene 7: The Watch in Action [scene runs from 58:09 to 1:01:25. For those with DVDS, it occurs at the beginning of ch.18 and goes to the end of ch. 19].

Borachio: What. Conrad, Conrad, I say!

Conrad: Here, man; I am at thy elbow.

Borachio: Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a scab follow.

Conrad: I will owe thee an answer for that: and now forward with thy tale.

A watchman: whispering, Sit close, then. Some treason, masters.

A watchman: I know him.

Borachio: I have tonight wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero's gentlewoman, by the name of Hero. I should first tell thee how the prince, Claudio and my master, planted by my master Don John, saw this amiable encounter.

Conrad: And thought they Margaret was Hero?

Borachio: Aye, and away went Claudio enraged.

A watchman: We charge you, in the prince's name, stand!

A watchman: Call up the right master constable. We have here recovered the most dangerous piece of lechery that ever was known in the commonwealth.

Conrad: Masters,

A watchman: Never speak.

Before the door to Leonato's house

Leonato: What would you with me, honest neighbor?

Verges: Marry, sir, our watch tonight, excepting your worship's presence, have taken a couple of as arrant 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. Well said, in faith, neighbor Verges. Well, God's a good man. If two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. All men are not alike; alas, good neighbor!

Leonato: Indeed, neighbor, he comes too short of you.

Dogberry: Gifts that God gives.

Leonato: Neighbors, 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 it in my heart to bestow it all of your worship.

Leonato: All thy tediousness on me? I would fain know what you have to say.

Dogberry: One word, sir: our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons, and we would have them this morning examined before your worship.

Leonato: Take their examination yourself and bring it me: I am now in great haste, as it may appear unto you. Drink some wine ere you go.

Dogberry: We are now to examination these men. Meet me at the jail.

Scene 8: Weddings [scene runs from 1:36:10 to 1:44:17. For those with DVDS, it begins half a minute into ch. 32.]

Benedick: Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.

Friar: To do what, Signor?

Benedick: To bind me, or undo me; one of them. Signor Leonato, truth it is, good Signor, your niece regards me with an eye of favor.

Leonato: The sight whereof I think you had from me, from Claudio and the prince. But what's your will?

Benedick: Your answer, sir, is enigmatical: But, for my will, my will is your good will may stand with ours, this day to be conjoined in the state of honorable marriage: In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.

Leonato: My heart is with your liking.

Friar: And my help.
looking to the side, Here comes the prince and Claudio.

Don Pedro: Good morrow, to this fair assembly.

Leonato: Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio. We here attend you. Are you yet determined Today to marry with my brother's daughter? Call her forth, brother; here's the friar ready.

Antonio brings out several women, all in white, and all veiled.

Claudio: Which is the lady I must seize upon?

Antonio: coming forward with Hero: This same is she, and I do give you her.

Claudio: Sweet, let me see your face.

Leonato: No, that you shall not, till you take her hand before this friar and swear to marry her.

Claudio: Give me your hand: before this holy friar. I am your husband, if you like of me.

Hero lifts her veil, and looks upon Claudio.

Don Pedro: amazed: Hero that is dead.

Leonato: She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived.

Hero: And when I lived, I was your other wife: And when you loved, you were my other husband. One Hero died defiled, but I do live, And surely as I live, I am a maid.
They embrace. Applause. Cheers.

Friar: All this amazement can I qualify: When after that the holy rites are ended, I'll tell you largely of fair Hero's death.

Benedick: Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?

Beatrice: Removing the veil. I answer to that name. 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 Claudio have been deceived. They swore you did.

Beatrice: Do not you love me?

Benedick: Why, no. No more than reason.

Beatrice: Why, then my cousin Margaret and Ursula are much deceived, for they did swear you did.

Benedick: They swore that you were almost sick for me.

Beatrice: They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.

Benedick: 'Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?

Beatrice: No, truly, but in friendly recompense.

Leonato: Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.

Claudio: And I'll be sworn upon it that he loves her. Here's a paper written in his hand, a halting sonnet of his own pure brain, fashioned to Beatrice.

Hero: And here's another writ in my cousin's hand, stolen from her pocket, 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 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.

Benedick: Peace! I will stop your mouth. Kissing her. Applause.

Don Pedro: How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?

Benedick: I'll tell thee what, prince. A college of wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humor. Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? No. Since I do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it; and therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it; for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion. Kisses her. 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. Come, come, we are friends. Let's have a dance ere we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts and our wives' heels.

Leonato: We'll have dancing afterwards.

Benedick: First, of my word. Therefore play, music. Prince, thou art sad. Get thee a wife, get thee a wife.

Messenger: My lord, your brother John is taken in flight, And brought with armed men back to Messina.

Don John appears surrounded by guards.

Benedick: Think not on him till tomorrow: I'll devise thee brave punishments for him.
Guards take Don John away. Strike up, pipers.


Much Ado Questions

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