Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

Easiest-to-Read Edition

 

 

 



Much Ado About Nothing complete



 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

ACT I 2

SCENE I. Before LEONATO'S house. 2

SCENE II. A room in LEONATO's house. 20

SCENE III. The same. 22

ACT II 26

SCENE I. A hall in LEONATO'S house. 26

SCENE II. The same. 44

SCENE III. LEONATO'S orchard. 47

ACT III 59

SCENE I. LEONATO'S garden. 59

SCENE II. A room in LEONATO'S house. 64

SCENE III. A street 72

SCENE IV. HERO's apartment. 81

SCENE V. Another room in LEONATO'S house. 87

ACT IV. 91

SCENE I. A church. 91

SCENE II. A prison. 107

ACT V. 112

SCENE I. Before LEONATO'S house. 112

SCENE II. LEONATO'S garden. 128

SCENE III. A church. 133

SCENE IV. A room in LEONATO'S house. 135

 


 

ACT I

SCENE I. Before LEONATO'S house.

Enter LEONATO, Governor of Messina; HERO, his daughter; and BEATRICE, his niece, with a MESSENGER

 

LEONATO

I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Aragon comes this night to Messina.

 

MESSENGER

He is very near by this (this time). He was not three leagues (nine miles) off when I left him.

 

LEONATO

How many gentlemen have you lost in this action (battle)?

 

MESSENGER

But few of any sort (rank) and none of name (reputation).

 

LEONATO

A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honor on a young Florentine called Claudio.

 

MESSENGER

Much deserved on his part and equally remembered (rewarded) by Don Pedro. He hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion. He hath indeed better bettered expectation than you must expect of me to tell you how.

better bettered expectation=so exceeded expectation

 

LEONATO

He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.

 

MESSENGER

I have already delivered him (his uncle) letters, and there appears much joy in him—even so much that joy could not show itself modest enough without a badge of bitterness.

a badge of bitterness=a show of some pain

 

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 Signor Montanto returned from the wars or no?

Montanto – a fencing term, suggesting a phony full of talk

 

MESSENGER

I know none of that name, lady. There was none such in the army of any sort.

 

LEONATO

What (who) is he that you ask for, niece?

 

HERO

My cousin means Signor Benedick of Padua.

 

MESSENGER

Oh, he’s returned and as pleasant (jocular) as ever he was.

 

BEATRICE

He set up his bills (public notices) here in Messina and challenged Cupid at the flight, and my uncle’s fool, reading the challenge,

flight=archery contest

fool=jester

subscribed for Cupid and challenged him (Benedick) at the bird-bolt.

for Cupid=on behalf of Cupid

at the bird-bolt=using a small arrow for shooting birds

I pray you, how many (men) hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? For indeed I promised to eat all of his killing.

(challenging Benedick’s nonsense)

 

LEONATO

Faith, niece, you tax (censure) Signor Benedick too much, but he’ll be meet (get even) with you, I doubt it not.

 

MESSENGER

He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.

 

BEATRICE

You had musty victual, and he hath holp (helped) to eat it. He is a very valiant trencher-man. He hath an excellent stomach.

trencher=serving platter

 

MESSENGER

And a good soldier, too, lady.

 

BEATRICE

And a good soldier to a lady, but what is he [compared] to a lord?

(taking “too” to be “to”)

 

MESSENGER

A lord to a lord, a man to a man, stuffed with all honorable virtues.

 

BEATRICE

It is so indeed. He is no less than a stuffed man. But for the stuffing—well, we are all mortal.

 

LEONATO

You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her. They never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit between them.

 

BEATRICE

Alas, he gets nothing by that. 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 [as] a reasonable creature. Who is his  companion

(without the one wit to keep him warm, nothing would be left to distinguish him from his horse)

now? He hath every month a new sworn brother.

(the five wits: memory, fantasy, judgment, imagination, common wit)

 

MESSENGER

Is ’t possible?

 

BEATRICE<