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Much Ado About Nothing

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ACT III SCENE II A room in LEONATO'S house. 
DON PEDRO I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and 
 then go I toward Arragon. 
CLAUDIO I'll bring you thither, my lord, if you'll 
 vouchsafe me.
DON PEDRO Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss 
 of your marriage as to show a child his new coat 
 and forbid him to wear it. I will only be bold 
 with Benedick for his company; for, from the crown 
 of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all
 mirth: he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's 
 bow-string and the little hangman dare not shoot at 
 him; he hath a heart as sound as a bell and his 
 tongue is the clapper, for what his heart thinks his 
 tongue speaks. 13
BENEDICK Gallants, I am not as I have been. 
LEONATO So say I methinks you are sadder. 
CLAUDIO I hope he be in love. 
DON PEDRO Hang him, truant! there's no true drop of blood in 
 him, to be truly touched with love: if he be sad,
 he wants money. 
BENEDICK I have the toothache. 20 
DON PEDRO Draw it. 
BENEDICK Hang it! 
CLAUDIO You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.
DON PEDRO What! sigh for the toothache? 
LEONATO Where is but a humour or a worm. 
BENEDICK Well, every one can master a grief but he that has 
CLAUDIO Yet say I, he is in love. 28
DON PEDRO There is no appearance of fancy in him, unless it be 
 a fancy that he hath to strange disguises; as, to be 
 a Dutchman today, a Frenchman to-morrow, or in the 
 shape of two countries at once, as, a German from 
 the waist downward, all slops, and a Spaniard from
 the hip upward, no doublet. Unless he have a fancy 
 to this foolery, as it appears he hath, he is no 
 fool for fancy, as you would have it appear he is. 
CLAUDIO If he be not in love with some woman, there is no 
 believing old signs: a' brushes his hat o'
 mornings; what should that bode? 39 
DON PEDRO Hath any man seen him at the barber's? 
CLAUDIO No, but the barber's man hath been seen with him, 
 and the old ornament of his cheek hath already 
 stuffed tennis-balls.
LEONATO Indeed, he looks younger than he did, by the loss of a beard. 
DON PEDRO Nay, a' rubs himself with civet: can you smell him 
 out by that? 
CLAUDIO That's as much as to say, the sweet youth's in love. 
DON PEDRO The greatest note of it is his melancholy. 50
CLAUDIO And when was he wont to wash his face? 
DON PEDRO Yea, or to paint himself? for the which, I hear 
 what they say of him. 
CLAUDIO Nay, but his jesting spirit; which is now crept into 
 a lute-string and now governed by stops.
DON PEDRO Indeed, that tells a heavy tale for him: conclude, 

conclude he is in love.

CLAUDIO Nay, but I know who loves him. 
DON PEDRO That would I know too: I warrant, one that knows him not. 60 
CLAUDIO Yes, and his ill conditions; and, in despite of
 all, dies for him. 
DON PEDRO She shall be buried with her face upwards. 
BENEDICK Yet is this no charm for the toothache. Old 
 signior, walk aside with me: I have studied eight 
 or nine wise words to speak to you, which these
 hobby-horses must not hear. 
DON PEDRO For my life, to break with him about Beatrice. 
CLAUDIO 'Tis even so. Hero and Margaret have by this 
 played their parts with Beatrice; and then the two 
 bears will not bite one another when they meet. 71
 Enter DON JOHN. 
DON JOHN My lord and brother, God save you! 
DON PEDRO Good den, brother. 
DON JOHN If your leisure served, I would speak with you. 
DON PEDRO In private? 
DON JOHN If it please you: yet Count Claudio may hear; for
 what I would speak of concerns him. 
DON PEDRO What's the matter? 
DON JOHN To CLAUDIO Means your lordship 
 to be married to-morrow? 80 
DON PEDRO You know he does. 
DON JOHN I know not that, when he knows what I know.
CLAUDIO If there be any impediment, I pray you discover it. 
DON JOHN You may think I love you not: let that appear 
 hereafter, and aim better at me by that I now will 
 manifest. For my brother, I think he holds you 
 well, and in dearness of heart hath holp to effect
 your ensuing marriage;--surely suit ill spent and 
 labour ill bestowed. 
DON PEDRO Why, what's the matter? 90 
DON JOHN I came hither to tell you; and, circumstances 
 shortened, for she has been too long a talking of,
 the lady is disloyal. 
CLAUDIO Who, Hero? 
DON PEDRO Even she; Leonato's Hero, your Hero, every man's Hero: 
CLAUDIO Disloyal? 
DON JOHN The word is too good to paint out her wickedness; I
 could say she were worse: think you of a worse 
 title, and I will fit her to it. Wonder not till 
 further warrant: go but with me to-night, you shall 
 see her chamber-window entered, even the night 
 before her wedding-day: if you love her then,
 to-morrow wed her; but it would better fit your honour 
 to change your mind. 104 
CLAUDIO May this be so? 
DON PEDRO I will not think it. 
DON JOHN If you dare not trust that you see, confess not
 that you know: if you will follow me, I will show 
 you enough; and when you have seen more and heard 
 more, proceed accordingly. 
CLAUDIO If I see any thing to-night why I should not marry 
 her to-morrow in the congregation, where I should
 wed, there will I shame her. 
DON PEDRO And, as I wooed for thee to obtain her, I will join 
 with thee to disgrace her. 
DON JOHN I will disparage her no farther till you are my 
 witnesses: bear it coldly but till midnight, and
 let the issue show itself. 
DON PEDRO O day untowardly turned! 
CLAUDIO O mischief strangely thwarting! 120 
DON JOHN O plague right well prevented! so will you say when 
 you have seen the sequel.

Next: Much Ado About Nothing, Act 3, Scene 3


Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 2

From Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons.

3 Bring. 'Accompany.'

10 Cut Cupid's bow-string. A way of saying that Cupid had been completely disabled. In Midsummer Night's Dream, i. 2. 114, the phrase has a different meaning.

11 Sound as a bell. Really an involuntary play upon the double meaning of sound, 'healthy' and 'clear-sounding.' "Sound as things that are hollow," Measure for Measure, i. 2. 56, when the quibble is intentional.

20 Tooth-ache. Considered an appropriate malady for the love-sick. The editors quote from one of Beaumont and Fletcher's plays, The False One, ii. 3 —

"You had best be troubled with the tooth-ache too,
For lovers ever are."

23 Hang it first. Referring obviously to the capital punishment, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.

25 Or a worm. A vulgar theory as to the cause of tooth-ache that still survives.

26 Every one can master. The truism which Leonato expands, (v. i. 5-19.)

29 Fancy. 'Love,' as often; e.g. "Maiden meditation, fancy-free," Midsummer Night's Dream, ii. i. 164. Used here with an obvious quibble.

30 Strange disguises. In what follows, lines 33-37 (most of which is omitted in the Folios), Shakespeare satirises the foibles of contemporary fashion. Stubbes and Harrison and such like censorious moralists perpetually denounce the extravagance and absurdities of the Englishman's dress at this time. The English, they say, must always ape foreign ways. Travellers go to Italy and return "Italianate" (their favourite word), to scoff at everything English. (Cf. As You Like It, iv. I. 34-41.) We may remember, too, Portia's criticism on "Falconbridge, the young baron of England," Merchant of Venice, i. 2. 79-81, "How oddly he is suited!" I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour everywhere."

33 Slops. 'Very wide breeches.' Cf. 2 Henry IV. i. 2. 34, "Satin for my short cloak and my slops."

34 No doublet. Because the Spanish cloak was so long and ample as to hide the doublet.

38 Brushes his hat. Curiously enough we are told in As You Like It, iii. 2. 398, that the lover should be careful to have his "bonnet unhanded;" and a resume of the appropriate love symptoms is given in Heywood's Maid of the Exchange

"Cross-arm myself; study ay-mes;
Defy my hat-band; tread beneath my feet
Shoe-strings and garters."

But Benedick was not the man to be conventional and woo with the ordinary wiles of disconsolate lovers. Beatrice would have ridiculed him to death.

43 Tennis balls. 'Stuffed with hair.'

46 Civet. Used as a perfume, though, as Touchstone told the shepherd in As You Like It, iii. 2. 66. it is "of a baser birth than tar." Stubbes in the Anatomy of Abuses (New Shakespeare Society's Reprint, part i. p. 77) asks: "Is not this a certen sweete Pride to have civet, muske, sweete powders?" &C. Lear wanted "an ounce of civet to sweeten (his) imagination." (iv. 6. 132-133.)

51 To wash his face. Meaning, perhaps, as Mr. Marshall suggests, with some preparation or wash for the complexion; an anticipation, that is, of the "paint himself" in the next line. Otherwise Claudio's remark would be a curious commentary on Elizabethan ways.

52 Paint himself. Ladies regularly used cosmetics, dyes, &c.; "Fairing the foul with art's false borrowed face," Sonnet 129...

67 hobby-horses. A term of contempt. [A reference to the silly costumes worn by morris-dancers.]

70 Two bears. That is, saevis inter se convenit ursis, Cf. Troilus and Cressida, v. 7, "One bear will not bite another."

73 Good den. Short for the full phrase, "God give you good evening." So Romeo and Juliet, ii. 4. 115; As You Like It, V. I. 16.

86 Aim better at me. 'Make a better guess at my feelings towards you from what I am about to say.'

91 Circumstances shorten'd. 'To be brief.' Circumstance occasionally = 'elaborate detail,' as in Othello, iii. 2. 354, "Circumstance of war." Sometimes circumlocution is the nearest equivalent; e.g. in Merchant of Venice, i. i. 154, and Hamlet, i. 5. 127.

101 Her chamber window entered. As a matter of fact what Claudio does see is Borachio talking at the window with Margaret. Cf. Claudio's question to Hero in act iv. i. 84, 85.

105 May this be so. Claudio takes the blow quite calmly; indeed it is scarcely a blow for his feeble, shallow nature. At best he expresses only a mild incredulity in his question. Don Pedro, on the other hand, roundly refuses to believe the story. The contrast is an effective piece of characterisation.


How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Much Ado About Nothing. Ed. A. Wilson Verity. London: Rivingtons, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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