Much Ado About Nothing

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Hero and two gentlewomen (Margaret and Ursula)


Good Margaret, run thee to the parlour;

There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice

Proposing with the Prince and Claudio.
propose (v.) 1 converse, discourse, hold forth

Whisper her ear, and tell her I and Ursula

Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse

Is all of her; say that thou overheardst us,

And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
pleached (adj.) 2 with hedges made of interlaced branches

Where honeysuckles, ripened by the sun,

Forbid the sun to enter – like favourites,

Made proud by princes, that advance their pride

Against that power that bred it. There will she hide her,
power (n.) 3 authority, government

To listen our propose. This is thy office;
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count
propose (n.) conversation, discourse, purposes

Bear thee well in it, and leave us alone.


I'll make her come, I warrant you, presently.
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count



Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,

As we do trace this alley up and down,
trace (v.) 3 range over, pass through, traverse

Our talk must only be of Benedick;

When I do name him, let it be thy part

To praise him more than ever man did merit.

My talk to thee must be how Benedick

Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter

Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made,
crafty (adj.) 2 skilfully made, cleverly designed

That only wounds by hearsay. Now begin;

Enter Beatrice secretively. She slips into the bower

For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
lapwing (n.) type of plover [bird with wily methods of escaping the notice of predators; associated with amorous intrigue]

Close by the ground, to hear our conference.
conference (n.) 1 conversation, talk, discourse


(to Hero)

The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish

Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,

And greedily devour the treacherous bait;

So angle we for Beatrice, who even now

Is couched in the woodbine coverture.
coverture (n.) 2 shelter, canopied bower, covered retreat
woodbine (n.) 1 honeysuckle See Topics: Plants

Fear you not my part of the dialogue.


(to Ursula)

Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing

Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.
false (adj.) 3 sham, spurious, not genuine, artificial

They approach the bower

No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful;

I know her spirits are as coy and wild
coy (adj.) 2 unresponsive, distant, standoffish, disdainful

As haggards of the rock.
haggard (n.) [falconry] wild hawk


                         But are you sure

That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?
entirely (adv.) sincerely, heartily


So says the Prince and my new-trothed lord.
new-trothed (adj.) recently engaged


And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?


They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;

But I persuaded them, if they loved Benedick,

To wish him wrestle with affection,
affection (n.) 2 emotion, feeling

And never to let Beatrice know of it.


Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman

Deserve as full as fortunate a bed

As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?


O god of love! I know he doth deserve

As much as may be yielded to a man;

But Nature never framed a woman's heart

Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice.

Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,

Misprizing what they look on, and her wit
misprize (v.) despise, undervalue, scorn
wit (n.) 2 mental sharpness, acumen, quickness, ingenuity See Topics: Frequency count

Values itself so highly that to her

All matter else seems weak. She cannot love,
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance
weak (adj.) 1 of little worth, wanting, deficient

Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
project (n.) 1 conception, idea, notion
shape (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, visible form

She is so self-endeared.
self-endeared (adj.) in love with oneself


                         Sure, I think so;

And therefore, certainly, it were not good

She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count


Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,

How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured,
rarely (adv.) 1 splendidly, beautifully, excellently

But she would spell him backward. If fair-faced,
spell backward misrepresent, distort, conjure up a bad image of

She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;

If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antic,
antic, antick(e), antique (n.) 1 grotesque figure, grinning jester, buffoon
black (adj.) 1 dark-complexioned, swarthy
nature (n.) 6 natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]

Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;

If low, an agate very vilely cut;
agate (n.) dwarf, midget [as of a tiny figure carved in an agate-seal]

If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;

If silent, why, a block moved with none.

So turns she every man the wrong side out,

And never gives to truth and virtue that

Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
purchase (v.) 2 deserve, earn, merit
simpleness (n.) 2 integrity, honesty, honour


Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.


No, not to be so odd and from all fashions

As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable;

But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,

She would mock me into air; O, she would laugh me

Out of myself, press me to death with wit!
wit (n.) 2 mental sharpness, acumen, quickness, ingenuity See Topics: Frequency count

Therefore let Benedick, like covered fire,

Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly.

It were a better death than die with mocks,
mock (n.) 1 act of mockery, mocking remark, derisive action, scornful irony

Which is as bad as die with tickling.


Yet tell her of it; hear what she will say.


No; rather I will go to Benedick

And counsel him to fight against his passion.

And, truly, I'll devise some honest slanders
honest (adj.) 4 innocent, well-intentioned, innocuous

To stain my cousin with. One doth not know

How much an ill word may empoison liking.
empoison (v.) 1 poison, corrupt, destroy
ill (adj.) 1 bad, adverse, unfavourable See Topics: Frequency count


O, do not do your cousin such a wrong!

She cannot be so much without true judgement –

Having so swift and excellent a wit
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

As she is prized to have – as to refuse
prize (v.) 1 esteem, value, hold

So rare a gentleman as Signor Benedick.
rare (adj.) 1 marvellous, splendid, excellent


He is the only man of Italy,

Always excepted my dear Claudio.


I pray you be not angry with me, madam,

Speaking my fancy; Signor Benedick,
fancy (n.) 4 imagination, mind, mental state

For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,
argument (n.) 9 power of reasoning, keenness in debate

Goes foremost in report through Italy.
report (n.) 1 reputation, fame, renown


Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.


His excellence did earn it ere he had it.

When are you married, madam?


Why, every day, tomorrow. Come, go in;

I'll show thee some attires, and have thy counsel
attire (n.) head-dress

Which is the best to furnish me tomorrow.
furnish (v.) 3 dress, clothe, equip, fit out

URSULA (to Hero)

(to Hero)
lime (v.) 1 trap, snare, catch [as if by using birdlime]
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count

She's limed, I warrant you; we have caught her, madam.

HERO (to Ursula)

(to Ursula)
hap (n.) 2 luck, chance, accident

If it prove so, then loving goes by haps;

Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.

Exeunt Hero and Ursula


(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.
band (n.) 1 bond, obligation, tie

For others say thou dost deserve, and I
deserve (v.) 2 be worthy, be entitled to honour

Believe it better than reportingly.
reportingly (adv.) by hearsay, by report


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