Much Ado About Nothing


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Benedick alone


BENEDICK

Boy!

Enter Boy


BOY

Signor?


BENEDICK

In my chamber-window lies a book; bring it

hither to me in the orchard.


BOY

I am here already, sir.


BENEDICK

I know that; but I would have thee hence, 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
argument (n.) 3 subject, point, theme, target

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, and now had he rather hear the tabor
tabor (n.) type of small drum, especially used in revelling

and the pipe. I have known when he would have walked

ten mile afoot to see a good armour; and now will he lie

ten nights awake carving the fashion of a new doublet.
carve (v.) 6 design, make up, shape artistically

He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an
purpose (n.) 2 point at issue, matter in hand
wont (v.) be accustomed, used [to], be in the habit of See Topics: Frequency count

honest man and a soldier, and now is he turned orthography;
orthography (n.) 1 speaker of high-flown phrases, stylistically polished person

his words are a very fantastical banquet, just so
fantastical (adj.) 1 fanciful, imaginative, full of wild ideas

many strange dishes. May I be so converted and see with

these eyes? 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. 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 her; fair, or I'll never look on her; mild,
cheapen (v.) bargain for, bid for, settle the price of

or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of

good discourse, 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.

He withdraws

Enter Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio


DON PEDRO

Come, shall we hear this music?


CLAUDIO

Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,

As hushed on purpose to grace harmony!


DON PEDRO

See you where Benedick hath hid himself?


CLAUDIO

O, very well, my lord: the music ended,

We'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.
fit (v.) 4 supply [with what is fit], satisfy
kid-fox (n.) crafty young cub
pennyworth, penn'orth (n.) 2 money's worth, bargain, good value

Enter Balthasar with music


DON PEDRO

Come, Balthasar, we'll hear that song again.


BALTHASAR

O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
tax (v.) 2 order, tell, command

To slander music any more than once.
slander (v.) misuse, disgrace, bring into disrepute


DON PEDRO

It is the witness still of excellency
excellency (n.) excellence, accomplishment, talent
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count
witness (n.) evidence, sign

To put a strange face on his own perfection.
strange (adj.) 8 diffident, pretending, coy

I pray thee sing, and let me woo no more.


BALTHASAR

Because you talk of wooing, I will sing,

Since many a wooer doth commence his suit
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship

To her he thinks not worthy; yet he woos,

Yet will he swear he loves.


DON PEDRO

                         Now, pray thee, come;

Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument,
argument (n.) 4 discussion, debate, dialogue

Do it in notes.


BALTHASAR

                         Note this before my notes;

There's not a note of mine that's worth the noting.


DON PEDRO

Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks;
crotchet (n.) strange notion, perverse idea, whimsical fancy

Note notes, forsooth, and nothing.
forsooth (adv.) in truth, certainly, truly, indeed See Topics: Frequency count

Music
ravish (v.) 1 entrance, enrapture, carry away with joy See Topics: Archaisms


BENEDICK

Now, divine air! Now is his soul ravished! Is

it not strange that sheep's guts should hale souls out of
hale (v.) 1 drag, pull, haul

men's bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when all's
horn (n.) 3 type of wind instrument

done.

The Song


BALTHASAR

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,
blithe (adj.) merry, happy, joyful
bonny (adj.) 2 fine, beautiful, splendid

Converting all your sounds of woe
convert (v.) change, transform, alter

Into Hey nonny, nonny.

Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
mo, moe (adj.) more [in number]

Of dumps so dull and heavy;
dull (adj.) 3 gloomy, melancholic, sullen
dump (n.) 1 plaintive melody, mournful song
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy See Topics: Frequency count

The fraud of men was ever so,

Since summer first was leavy:

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, a good song.


BALTHASAR

And an ill singer, my lord.
ill (adj.) 3 poor, inadequate, miserable


DON PEDRO

Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough

for a shift.
shift, for a as a makeshift, for lack of a better alternative


BENEDICK

An 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
bode (v.) 1 forebode, portend, predict, augur

heard the night-raven, come what plague could have
lief, had as should like just as much See Topics: Frequency count

come after it.


DON PEDRO

Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I

pray thee, get us some excellent music; for tomorrow

night we would have it at the Lady Hero's

chamber-window.


BALTHASAR

The best I can, my lord.


DON PEDRO

Do so; farewell.

Exit Balthasar

Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of today,

that your niece Beatrice was in love with Signor

Benedick?


CLAUDIO

(aside)
stalk on (v.) move stealthily in concealment [as by using a stalking-horse to catch game]

O, ay; stalk on, stalk on, the fowl sits. – 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 behaviours seemed ever to abhor.


BENEDICK

(aside)

Is't possible? Sits the wind in that

corner?


LEONATO

By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to

think of it; but that she loves him with an enraged affection,
enraged (adj.) 1 passionate, ardent, furiously aroused

it is past the infinite of thought.
infinite (n.) 1 infinity, infinite quantity, eternity


DON PEDRO

May be she doth but counterfeit.
counterfeit (v.) 2 pretend, feign, make believe See Topics: Frequency count


CLAUDIO

Faith, like enough.
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count


LEONATO

O God! Counterfeit? There was never counterfeit
counterfeit (n.) 3 likeness, portrait, image

of passion came so near the life of passion as she

discovers it.
discover (v.) 1 reveal, show, make known See Topics: Frequency count


DON PEDRO

Why, what effects of passion shows she?
effect (n.) 3 sign, mark, token, manifestation


CLAUDIO

(to Don Pedro and Leonato)

Bait the hook well;

this fish will bite.


LEONATO

What effects, my lord? She will sit you – you

heard my daughter tell you how.


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 affection.
assault (n.) attack, temptation, snare


LEONATO

I would have sworn it had, my lord, especially

against Benedick.


BENEDICK

(aside)
gull (n.) 2 trick, hoax, deception

I should think this a gull, but that the

white-bearded fellow speaks it; knavery cannot, sure,

hide himself in such reverence.
reverence (n.) 1 respected state, venerable condition


CLAUDIO

(to Don Pedro and Leonato)

He hath ta'en the

infection; hold it up.
hold up (v.) 1 continue, keep going, carry on


DON PEDRO

Hath she made her affection known to

Benedick?


LEONATO

No, and swears she never will; that's her

torment.


CLAUDIO

'Tis true, indeed, so your daughter says. ‘ Shall

I,’ says she, ‘ that have so oft encountered him with
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

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
smock (n.) woman's undergarment, shift, slip, chemise

of paper. My daughter tells us all.


CLAUDIO

Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember

a pretty jest your daughter told us of.


LEONATO

O, when she had writ it and was reading it

over, she found Benedick and Beatrice between the

sheet?


CLAUDIO

That.


LEONATO

O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence;
half-pence (n.) fragment, tiny piece, bit

railed at herself, that she should be so immodest
rail (v.) rant, rave, be abusive [about] See Topics: Frequency count

to write to one that she knew would flout her.
flout (v.) insult, abuse, mock

‘ 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 should.’


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 her that my daughter
ecstasy (n.) 1 fit, bout of madness, frenzied behaviour
overbear (v.) 1 overwhelm, overcome, overpower

is sometime afeard she will do a desperate outrage to
afeard (adj.) afraid, frightened, scared See Topics: Frequency count

herself. It is very true.


DON PEDRO

It were good that Benedick knew of it by

some other, if she will not discover it.
discover (v.) 1 reveal, show, make known See Topics: Frequency count


CLAUDIO

To what end? He would make but a sport of it
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

and torment the poor lady worse.


DON PEDRO

An he should, it were an alms to hang him.
alms (n.) charity, good deed, meritorious act

She's an excellent sweet lady, and, out of all suspicion,

she is virtuous.


CLAUDIO

And she is exceeding wise.


DON PEDRO

In every thing but in loving Benedick.


LEONATO

O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]

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 on me;
dotage (n.) 1 doting, infatuation, excessive affection

I would have daffed all other respects and made her half
daff (v.), past form daft 3 put to one side, thrust aside
respect (n.) 1 consideration, factor, circumstance

myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear what

'a 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, rather

than she will bate one breath of her accustomed
bate (v.) 1 abate, modify, lessen

crossness.


DON PEDRO

She doth well. If she should make tender of
tender (n.) 1 offer, offering

her love, 'tis very possible he'll scorn it; for the man,

as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.
contemptible (adj.) 2 scornful, disdainful, full of contempt


CLAUDIO

He is a very proper man.
proper (adj.) 1 good-looking, handsome, comely


DON PEDRO

He hath, indeed, a good outward happiness.
happiness (n.) 3 pleasing demeanour, felicitous manner


CLAUDIO

Before God, and in my mind, very wise.


DON PEDRO

He doth, indeed, show some sparks that are
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

like wit.


CLAUDIO

And I take him to be valiant.


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 fear.


LEONATO

If he do fear God, 'a must necessarily keep

peace; if he break the peace, he ought to enter into a

quarrel with fear and trembling.


DON PEDRO

And so will he do, for the man doth fear God,

howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests he
large (adj.) 4 licentious, coarse

will make. Well I am sorry for your niece. Shall we go

seek Benedick, and tell him of her love?


CLAUDIO

Never tell him, my lord; let her wear it out with

good counsel.
counsel (n.) 3 resolution, intention, purpose


LEONATO

Nay, that's impossible; she may wear her heart

out first.


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 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.


DON PEDRO

(to Leonato)

Let there be the same net spread

for her, and that must your daughter and her gentlewomen

carry. The sport will be, when they hold one
carry (v.) 5 carry out, manage, conduct

an opinion of another's dotage, and no such matter;
dotage (n.) 1 doting, infatuation, excessive affection
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

that's the scene that I would see, which will be merely a
merely (adv.) 1 completely, totally, entirely See Topics: Frequency count

dumb-show. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.

Exeunt Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato


BENEDICK

(coming forward)

This can be no trick. The

conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of this
bear (v.), past forms bore, borne 2 carry on, manage, conduct [an affair]
conference (n.) 1 conversation, talk, discourse
sadly (adv.) 1 seriously, gravely, solemnly

from Hero. They seem to pity the lady; it seems her

affections have their full bent. Love me? Why it must
bent (n.) 3 degree, capacity, extent [to which a bow can be bent]

be requited. I hear how I am censured: they say I will
censure (v.) 1 judge, think of, give an opinion of [not involving blame]

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; so,

I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving me. By my
reprove (v.) disprove, rebut, refute, deny

troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument
argument (n.) 6 proof, evidence, demonstration
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her. I may

chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken
break up (v.) 3 [of jokes] crack, make
quirk (n.) 2 quip, wisecrack, witticism
wit (n.) 2 mental sharpness, acumen, quickness, ingenuity See Topics: Frequency count

on me, because I have railed so long against marriage;
rail (v.) rant, rave, be abusive [about] See Topics: Frequency count

but doth not the appetite alter? 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
sentence (n.) 1 maxim, wise saying, precept

man from the career of his humour? No, the world must
career (n.) 4 rapid course, height, full swing
humour (n.) 1 mood, disposition, frame of mind, temperament [as determined by bodily fluids] See Topics: Frequency count

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.

Enter Beatrice


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
daw (n.) 1 jackdaw [as noted for its stupidity]; dolt, fool

stomach, signor; fare you well.

Exit


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. I will

go get her picture.

Exit

 
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