Much Ado About Nothing


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Don Pedro, Don John, Leonato, Friar Francis,

Claudio, Benedick, Hero, Beatrice, and attendants


LEONATO

Come, Friar Francis, be brief; only to the plain

form of marriage, and you shall recount their particular

duties afterwards.


FRIAR

You come hither, my lord, to marry this lady?


CLAUDIO

No.


LEONATO

To be married to her; Friar, you come to marry

her!


FRIAR

Lady, you come hither to be married to this Count.


HERO

I do.


FRIAR

If either of you know any inward impediment why
inward (adj.) 2 secret, private, undisclosed

you should not be conjoined, I charge you, on your souls,

to utter it.


CLAUDIO

Know you any, Hero?


HERO

None, my lord.


FRIAR

Know you any, Count?


LEONATO

I dare make his answer, None.


CLAUDIO

O, what men dare do! What men may do!

What men daily do, not knowing what they do!


BENEDICK

How now! Interjections? Why, then, some be

of laughing, as, ah, ha, he!


CLAUDIO

Stand thee by, Friar. Father, by your leave:
stand by (v.) 2 stand aside, draw back

Will you with free and unconstrained soul

Give me this maid, your daughter?


LEONATO

As freely, son, as God did give her me.


CLAUDIO

And what have I to give you back, whose worth

May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
counterpoise (v.) 1 equal, match, rival


DON PEDRO

Nothing, unless you render her again.


CLAUDIO

Sweet Prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.
learn (v.) 1 teach, instruct [not a regional dialect usage as in modern English]

There, Leonato, take her back again,

Give not this rotten orange to your friend;

She's but the sign and semblance of her honour.
sign (n.) 3 mere semblance, token symbol, show

Behold how like a maid she blushes here!

O, what authority and show of truth

Can cunning sin cover itself withal!

Comes not that blood as modest evidence
blood (n.) 12 colouring, healthy complexion, blushing
evidence (n.) 1 witness, testimony, avowal
modest (adj.) 3 decorous, seemly, not offending modesty

To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
witness (v.) 1 bear witness to, attest, testify to

All you that see her, that she were a maid

By these exterior shows? But she is none;

She knows the heat of a luxurious bed.
luxurious (adj.) lustful, lecherous, lascivious

Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.


LEONATO

What do you mean, my lord?


CLAUDIO

                         Not to be married,

Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton.
approved (adj.) tested, tried, established, proven
wanton (n.) 3 harlot, whore


LEONATO

Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
proof (n.) 3 test, trial

Have vanquished the resistance of her youth,

And made defeat of her virginity –
defeat (n.) act of destruction, ruin


CLAUDIO

I know what you would say. If I have known her,
know (v.) 7 have sexual knowledge of, have intercourse with

You will say she did embrace me as a husband,

And so extenuate the 'forehand sin.
extenuate (v.) mitigate, lessen, tone down
forehand, fore-hand (adj.) 1 beforehand, previously committed

No, Leonato,

I never tempted her with word too large,
large (adj.) 4 licentious, coarse

But, as a brother to his sister, showed

Bashful sincerity and comely love.


HERO

And seemed I ever otherwise to you?


CLAUDIO

Out on thee! Seeming! I will write against it.
seeming (n.) 2 deceptive appearance, two-faced behaviour, pretence

You seem to me as Dian in her orb,

As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;
blown (adj.) 1 in full flower, in its bloom

But you are more intemperate in your blood
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]

Than Venus, or those pampered animals

That rage in savage sensuality.
savage (adj.) 2 uncivilized, wild, ungoverned


HERO

Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide?
wide (adv.) 1 in error, mistakenly


LEONATO

Sweet Prince, why speak not you?


DON PEDRO

                         What should I speak?

I stand dishonoured, that have gone about

To link my dear friend to a common stale.
stale (n.) 3 prostitute, wanton, harlot


LEONATO

Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?


DON JOHN

Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.


BENEDICK

This looks not like a nuptial.


HERO

                         True? O God!


CLAUDIO

Leonato, stand I here?

Is this the Prince? Is this the Prince's brother?

Is this face Hero's? Are our eyes our own?


LEONATO

All this is so; but what of this, my lord?


CLAUDIO

Let me but move one question to your daughter;

And, by that fatherly and kindly power
kindly (adj.) 1 natural, proper

That you have in her, bid her answer truly.
power (n.) 7 control, influence, sway


LEONATO

I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.


HERO

O God defend me! How am I beset!

What kind of catechizing call you this?


CLAUDIO

To make you answer truly to your name.


HERO

Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name

With any just reproach?


CLAUDIO

                         Marry, that can Hero;

Hero itself can blot out Hero's virtue.

What man was he talked with you yesternight
yesternight (n.) last night

Out at your window betwixt twelve and one?

Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.


HERO

I talked with no man at that hour, my lord.


DON PEDRO

Why, then are you no maiden. Leonato,

I am sorry you must hear. Upon mine honour,

Myself, my brother, and this grieved Count
grieved (adj.) aggrieved, wronged, ill-used

Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night

Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window;

Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
liberal (adj.) 2 coarse, licentious, promiscuous

Confessed the vile encounters they have had

A thousand times in secret.


DON JOHN

Fie, fie, they are not to be named, my lord,

Not to be spoke of!

There is not chastity enough in language

Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady,

I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.
misgovernment (n.) misconduct, wicked behaviour
much (adj.) 1 great, flagrant, brazen


CLAUDIO

O Hero! What a Hero hadst thou been,

If half thy outward graces had been placed

About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!

But fare thee well, most foul, most fair! Farewell,

Thou pure impiety and impious purity!

For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love,

And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,
conjecture (n.) 3 suspicion, misgiving, evil doubt

To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,

And never shall it more be gracious.
gracious (adj.) 9 delightful, lovely, charming


LEONATO

Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?

Hero swoons


BEATRICE

Why, how now, cousin! Wherefore sink you down?


DON JOHN

Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,

Smother her spirits up.
spirit (n.) 5 (plural) vital power, energy, vigour

Exeunt Don Pedro, Don John, and Claudio


BENEDICK

How doth the lady?


BEATRICE

                         Dead, I think. Help, uncle!

Hero! Why, Hero! Uncle! Signor Benedick! Friar!


LEONATO

O Fate! Take not away thy heavy hand.
heavy (adj.) 10 brutal, oppressive, wicked

Death is the fairest cover for her shame

That may be wished for.


BEATRICE

                         How now, cousin Hero?


FRIAR

Have comfort, lady.


LEONATO

Dost thou look up?


FRIAR

                         Yea, wherefore should she not?


LEONATO

Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly thing

Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny

The story that is printed in her blood?
blood (n.) 12 colouring, healthy complexion, blushing

Do not live, Hero, do not ope thine eyes;
ope (v.) open See Topics: Frequency count

For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,

Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,

Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
rearward of, on the (prep.) following, immediately after

Strike at thy life. Grieved I, I had but one?

Chid I for that at frugal Nature's frame?
chide (v.), past form chid 1 scold, rebuke, reprove See Topics: Frequency count
frame (n.) 2 plan, established order, scheme of things

O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?

Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?

Why had I not with charitable hand

Took up a beggar's issue at my gates,
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

Who smirched thus and mired with infamy,
smirched (adj.) marked, soiled, stained

I might have said ‘ No part of it is mine;

This shame derives itself from unknown loins ’?
derive (v.) 1 descend

But mine and mine I loved and mine I praised

And mine that I was proud on, mine so much

That I myself was to myself not mine,

Valuing of her – why, she, O, she is fallen

Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea

Hath drops too few to wash her clean again

And salt too little which may season give
season (n.) 7 seasoning, flavour, preservative

To her foul tainted flesh!


BENEDICK

                         Sir, sir, be patient.

For my part, I am so attired in wonder,
attired (adj.) wrapped, clothed, swathed

I know not what to say.


BEATRICE

O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
belie (v.) 1 slander, tell lies about


BENEDICK

Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?


BEATRICE

No, truly not; although, until last night,

I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.


LEONATO

Confirmed, confirmed! O, that is stronger made

Which was before barred up with ribs of iron!

Would the two Princes lie, and Claudio lie,

Who loved her so, that, speaking of her foulness,

Washed it with tears? Hence from her, let her die!


FRIAR

Hear me a little;

For I have only silent been so long,

And given way unto this course of fortune
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

By noting of the lady. I have marked
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

A thousand blushing apparitions

To start into her face, a thousand innocent shames
start (v.) 6 hurry, rush, hasten

In angel whiteness beat away those blushes;

And in her eye there hath appeared a fire,

To burn the errors that these Princes hold

Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool;

Trust not my reading nor my observations,

Which with experimental seal doth warrant
experimental (adj.) on the basis of experience, often observed
seal (n.) 1 authentication, confirmation, attestation
warrant (v.) 3 act as a pledge for, give an assurance about

The tenor of my book; trust not my age,
book (n.) 1 book-learning, scholarship, erudition
tenor, tenour (n.) 1 substance, content, matter, drift

My reverence, calling, nor divinity,

If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
lie under (v.) be subject to, suffer the consequence of

Under some biting error.


LEONATO

                         Friar, it cannot be.

Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left

Is that she will not add to her damnation

A sin of perjury; she not denies it:

Why seek'st thou then to cover with excuse

That which appears in proper nakedness?
proper (adj.) 3 thorough, absolute, complete


FRIAR

Lady, what man is he you are accused of?


HERO

They know that do accuse me; I know none.

If I know more of any man alive

Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
warrant (v.) 2 authorize, sanction, license

Let all my sins lack mercy! O my father,

Prove you that any man with me conversed

At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
unmeet (adj.) 1 unfitting, unsuitable, improper
yesternight (n.) last night

Maintained the change of words with any creature,
change (n.) 6 exchange, replacement [for]

Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death!
refuse (v.) spurn, disown, cast off


FRIAR

There is some strange misprision in the Princes.
misprision (n.) 1 mistake, error, misunderstanding, misconception


BENEDICK

Two of them have the very bent of honour;
bent (n.) 2 disposition, constitution, temperament
very (adj.) 2 true, real, genuine

And if their wisdoms be misled in this,

The practise of it lives in John the Bastard,
practice (n.) 2 trickery, treachery

Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.
frame (n.) 4 framing, plotting, contriving


LEONATO

I know not. If they speak but truth of her,

These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour,

The proudest of them shall well hear of it.

Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,

Nor age so eat up my invention,
invention (n.) 1 inventiveness, imagination, creative faculty

Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,

Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,

But they shall find, awaked in such a kind,
kind (n.) 2 manner, way, state

Both strength of limb and policy of mind,
policy (n.) 1 statecraft, statesmanship, diplomacy

Ability in means and choice of friends

To quit me of them throughly.
quit (v.) 6 avenge, requite, take vengeance [on]
throughly (adv.) thoroughly, fully, completely


FRIAR

                         Pause awhile,

And let my counsel sway you in this case.
sway (v.) 1 control, rule, direct, govern

Your daughter here the Princes left for dead;

Let her awhile be secretly kept in,

And publish it that she is dead indeed.

Maintain a mourning ostentation,
ostentation (n.) 1 public show, display, exhibition

And on your family's old monument

Hang mournful epitaphs and do all rites

That appertain unto a burial.


LEONATO

What shall become of this? What will this do?


FRIAR

Marry, this, well carried, shall on her behalf
carry (v.) 5 carry out, manage, conduct

Change slander to remorse; that is some good.
remorse (n.) 1 pity, regret, sorrow

But not for that dream I on this strange course,
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

But on this travail look for greater birth.
travail, travel (n.) 4 suffering, torment, distress

She dying, as it must be so maintained,

Upon the instant that she was accused,

Shall be lamented, pitied, and excused

Of every hearer; for it so falls out

That what we have we prize not to the worth
worth (n.) 1 worthiness, value, excellence

Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,

Why, then we rack the value, then we find
rack (v.) 3 exaggerate, inflate, increase

The virtue that possession would not show us

Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio.
fare (v.) 2 go, happen, turn out

When he shall hear she died upon his words,

Th' idea of her life shall sweetly creep

Into his study of imagination,
imagination (n.) 2 thought, soul-searching, introspection
study (n.) 4 reflection, reverie, musing

And every lovely organ of her life
life (n.) 1 living being, person
organ (n.) 2 feature, trait, facet

Shall come apparelled in more precious habit,
apparel (v.) 1 clothe, dress up, trick out
habit (n.) 1 dress, clothing, costume See Topics: Frequency count

More moving, delicate, and full of life,

Into the eye and prospect of his soul,

Than when she lived indeed. Then shall he mourn,

If ever love had interest in his liver,
liver (n.) 1 part of the body thought to be at the seat of the passions [especially sexual desire]

And wish he had not so accused her –

No, though he thought his accusation true.

Let this be so, and doubt not but success
success (n.) 4 course of events, process of time

Will fashion the event in better shape
event (n.) outcome, issue, consequence

Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
lay down (v.) 2 formulate, work out, estimate

But if all aim but this be levelled false,
false (adj.) 4 wrong, mistaken
false (adv.) 3 wrongly, erroneously, in error
level (v.) aim, direct, target

The supposition of the lady's death
supposition (n.) 1 notion, opinion, belief

Will quench the wonder of her infamy;
wonder (n.) 3 surprise, astonishment, amazement

And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,
sort (v.) 6 turn out, fall out, come about

As best befits her wounded reputation,

In some reclusive and religious life,
reclusive (adj.) secluded, cloistered, withdrawn from society

Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.


BENEDICK

Signor Leonato, let the Friar advise you;

And though you know my inwardness and love
inwardness (n.) attachment, intimacy, close friendship

Is very much unto the Prince and Claudio,

Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this

As secretly and justly as your soul

Should with your body.
being that (conj.) since, seeing that


LEONATO

                         Being that I flow in grief,

The smallest twine may lead me.


FRIAR

'Tis well consented. Presently away;
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.
strain (v.) 2 constrain, force, press

Come, lady, die to live; this wedding-day

Perhaps is but prolonged; have patience and endure.
prolong (v.) postpone, put off, delay

Exeunt all but Benedick and Beatrice


BENEDICK

Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?


BEATRICE

Yea, and I will weep a while longer.


BENEDICK

I will not desire that.


BEATRICE

You have no reason; I do it freely.


BENEDICK

Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.


BEATRICE

Ah, how much might the man deserve of me

that would right her!


BENEDICK

Is there any way to show such friendship?


BEATRICE

A very even way, but no such friend.
even (adj.) 1 straightforward, forthright, direct


BENEDICK

May a man do it?


BEATRICE

It is a man's office, but not yours.
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count


BENEDICK

I do love nothing in the world so well as you; is

not that strange?


BEATRICE

As strange as the thing I know not. It were as

possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you; but

believe me not, and yet I lie not; I confess nothing, nor I

deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.


BENEDICK

By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.


BEATRICE

Do not swear, and eat it.


BENEDICK

I will swear by it that you love me; and I will

make him eat it that says I love not you.


BEATRICE

Will you not eat your word?


BENEDICK

With no sauce that can be devised to it; I protest
protest (v.) 1 make protestation, avow, affirm, proclaim

I love thee.


BEATRICE

Why, then, God forgive me!


BENEDICK

What offence, sweet Beatrice?


BEATRICE

You have stayed me in a happy hour; I was
happy (adj.) 2 opportune, appropriate, propitious, favourable
hour (n.) 1 time, moment
stay (v.) 7 detain, confine, keep

about to protest I loved you.


BENEDICK

And do it with all thy heart.


BEATRICE

I love you with so much of my heart that none

is left to protest.


BENEDICK

Come, bid me do anything for thee.


BEATRICE

Kill Claudio.


BENEDICK

Ha! Not for the wide world.


BEATRICE

You kill me to deny it. Farewell.


BENEDICK

(taking her by the hand) Tarry, sweet Beatrice.


BEATRICE

I am gone though I am here; there is no love in

you. Nay, I pray you, let me go.


BENEDICK

Beatrice –


BEATRICE

In faith, I will go.


BENEDICK

We'll be friends first.


BEATRICE

You dare easier be friends with me than fight

with mine enemy.


BENEDICK

Is Claudio thine enemy?


BEATRICE

Is he not approved in the height a villain that
approve (v.) 1 prove, confirm, corroborate, substantiate

hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman?

O that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they
bear in hand 1 abuse, take advantage of, delude, deceive

come to take hands, and then, with public accusation,

uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour – O God, that
uncovered (adj.) 2 barefaced, naked, glaring

I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.


BENEDICK

Hear me, Beatrice –


BEATRICE

Talk with a man out at a window! A proper

saying!


BENEDICK

Nay, but Beatrice –


BEATRICE

Sweet Hero! She is wronged, she is slandered,

she is undone.
undone (adj.) ruined, destroyed, brought down See Topics: Frequency count


BENEDICK

Beat –


BEATRICE

Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
county (n.) 1 [title of rank] count

a goodly count, Count Comfect; a sweet gallant,
comfect (n.) sweetmeat, sugar-plum, comfit
gallant (n.) 1 fine gentleman, man of fashion See Topics: Address forms

surely! O that I were a man for his sake, or that I had

any friend would be a man for my sake! But manhood

is melted into curtsies, valour into compliment, and
compliment, complement (n.) 2 ceremony, etiquette, protocol
curtsy, curtsey (n.) 2 courtly ceremony, mannered politeness

men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too. He
tongue (n.) 1 speech, expression, language, words, voice
trim (adj.) 2 glib, suave, slick

is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie and

swears it. I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I

will die a woman with grieving.


BENEDICK

Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love

thee.


BEATRICE

Use it for my love some other way than swearing

by it.


BENEDICK

Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath

wronged Hero?


BEATRICE

Yea, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.


BENEDICK

Enough, I am engaged; I will challenge him.

I will kiss your hand, and so I leave you. By this hand,

Claudio shall render me a dear account. As you hear of

me, so think of me. Go, comfort your cousin; I must say

she is dead; and so, farewell.

Exeunt

 
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