Much Ado About Nothing

Type: 
Comedy
First Performed: 
1598-99
First Printed: 
1600
"

Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.

"

Leonato, Governor of Messina, welcomes the return of his soldier Don Pedro and his regiment from war. But all is not peaceful within Don Pedro's ranks. His brother, Don John, still harbors anger for past acts and seeks the opportunity for revenge. Another of his men, Benedick, has taken up a verbal war with Leonato's niece Beatrice. Despite this, Don Pedro hopes to unite the pair in a love match. And brave Count Claudio has fallen madly in love with Hero, Leonato's daughter, and plans to marry her.

Disgruntled Don John hatches a plan for revenge against his brother and Claudio, whom he also despises. He enlists the help of his companion Borachio and bribes young Margaret, Hero's lady in waiting, to smudge Hero's reputation by making it look like she has taken a lover. Claudio falls for the ruse and denounces Hero at the altar. Taking pity on the devastated bride, Friar Francis hides her away and enlists the aid of Leonato, who announces that his daughter has died of grief from the proceeding.

Fortunately for Hero, Borachio is arrested while drunkenly boasting of his part in the plan. With Borachio's confession, Hero is to be exonerated. Leonato demands a public apology from Claudio, then tells him that he will allow Claudio to marry one of his nieces in Hero's place, a niece who happens to bear a striking resemblance to Hero herself! While Don John is arrested and meets an unhappy fate, Claudio and Hero are reunited and Benedick and Beatrice have set aside their war of words long enough to wed beside them.