Short summary - Much Ado About Nothing - William Shakespeare

British literature summaries -

Short summary - Much Ado About Nothing
William Shakespeare

The action takes place in the city of Messina in Sicily. The messenger informs Governor Leonato of the arrival in the city after the victorious end of the war, Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, with his retinue. Talking about the battle, the messenger mentions a distinguished young Florentine Claudio who distinguished himself on the battlefield. The prince brought him closer to himself, made him his confidant. Governor Beatrice's niece asks about Signor Benedict of Padua. A wonderful young man, says the messenger, fought heroically in the war, besides he is a merry fellow, of which there are few. Beatrice doesn’t believe - the dandy, the helideck and the talker could differ only in revels and fun. The hero, the governor’s daughter, asks the guest not to seriously take the cousin’s ridicule, Beatrice and Benedict have known each other for a long time, at meetings they always dive, tell each other taunts.

Leonato receives Don Pedro, his half-brother Don Juan, Claudio and Benedict in his home. The Prince thanks for the hospitality, others perceive such a visit as a burden, and the governor gladly showed willingness to accept them for a month. Leonato is pleased that don Pedro and don Juan are finally reconciled.

Claudio is fascinated by Hero and admits this to Benedict. He who calls himself a female enemy is perplexed: is it really Claudio so eager to tie the knot! In vain does Benedict scoff at his friend’s feelings, don Pedro chastises him, the time will come, and he will also be able to experience the pangs of love. The prince volunteers to help the lover: at night, in a masquerade, he will open on his behalf the beautiful Hero and talk with her father.

The governor’s brother Antonio excitedly informs Leonato that one of the servants heard a conversation between don Pedro and Claudio walking in the garden - the prince admitted that he was in love with Hero and intends to open up to her this evening during dancing and, having secured her consent, is going to talk with his father.

Don Juan is extremely annoyed. He is not at all inclined to maintain a peaceful relationship with his brother: «It is better to be a thistle at the fence than a rose in the garden of his grace. They trust me by putting on a muzzle and give me freedom with my legs wrapped around me. »

Borochio, close to don Juan, returns from a magnificent dinner hosted by the governor in honor of don Pedro. He has amazing news: from an overheard conversation, he learned about the upcoming matchmaking of Claudio, the favorite of Don Pedro. Don Juan hates a young upstart, he makes plans for him to salt.

In the Beatrice family circle, pacing about don Juan - his face is so sour that it begins to torment heartburn. painfully the niece is sharp on the tongue, Leonato complains, it will be difficult for her to find a husband. «And I will not marry until God creates a man from some other matter than earth,» the girl retorts. «All men are brothers to me according to Adam, and I consider it a sin to marry a relative.» Leonato instructs her daughter how to keep herself with the prince when he asks her for her hand.

During the masquerade, Benedict, without revealing his face, dances with Beatrice, but at the same time brings out her opinion about herself and listens to many taunts addressed to him.

Don Juan, pretending to take Claudio for Benedict, asks to distract Don Pedro from Hero - the prince has lost his head, but the girl is no match for him. Borochio confirms that he heard the prince swear love to her. Claudio is amazed at the treachery of a friend.

Benedict complains to Don Pedro about the unbearable scorn of Beatrice, whose words hurt him like daggers. The prince is surprised that Claudio is gloomy, he is tormented by jealousy, but tries not to show his irritation. A misunderstanding is settled when Leonato brings his daughter to him and agrees to a marriage arranged by his highness. The wedding is scheduled in a week.

Don Pedro likes Beatrice's inexhaustible wit, she seems to him a suitable wife for the merry fellow Benedict. He decides to promote the marriage of this «tongue-out" couple. Claudio, Leonato and Hero are called to help him.

Borochio informs don Juan about the imminent wedding of Claudio. He wants to prevent this, and both develop an insidious plan. For a year now, Borochio has been enjoying the favors of Margarita, the chamberlain Hero. He will ask her to look out of the window of her mistress’s bedroom at an inopportune hour, and don Juan will go to his brother and tell him that he dishonors his honor, facilitating the marriage of the glorious Claudio with a dirty lascivious woman - evidence can be seen in the garden on the night before the wedding. And all the preparations for the wedding will collapse. Don Juan's liking: you can deceive the prince, get Claudio out of himself, destroy Hero and kill Leonato. He promises Borochio a reward of a thousand ducats.

Hidden in the gazebo, Benedict overhears a conversation between Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonato, who deliberately talk loudly to Beatrice - lovely, sweet, virtuous and also unusually smart, except for the fact that she fell in love with Benedict. The poor thing does not dare to reveal her feelings to him, because if he finds out, he will ridicule and torment the unfortunate girl. Benedict is greatly excited by what he heard. It is unlikely that this is a rally, since Leonato participated in the conversation, and cheating cannot hide under such a respectable appearance, and they spoke quite seriously. He feels that he is also in love, Beatrice has a lot of attractive features, taunts and jokes that she lets go of him, is not the main thing.

The hero adjusts so that once in a gazebo Beatrice hears her conversation with Margarita. The hostess and the maidservant sympathize with the unfortunate Benedict, dying of love for the wayward Beatrice. She is so in love with herself, arrogant, slander every man, finding what to complain about. And the poor man managed to get carried away by this proud woman, and yet he has no equal in courage, intelligence and beauty. Beatrice realizes how wrong she was and decides to reward Benedict with love for love.

Don Pedro wonders why Benedict is so sad, is he really in love? Is it really that an anemone and a joker can feel true love? Everyone rejoices that the bastard pecked at the bait.

Don Juan comes to don Pedro and declares that he honors the honor of his brother, who arranges the wedding of Claudio, and the reputation of his friend, whom they want to deceive. He invites both to evidence at night in the garden. Claudio is stunned: if he sees with his own eyes that Hero is deceiving him, then tomorrow in the very church where the wedding is to take place, he will disgrace her at all.

Police officer Kizil and his assistant Bulava instruct the guards how to protect them: you need to be vigilant, but not too zealous, and not to bother yourself, and not to interfere with the measured course of life.

Borochio brags to Conrad how cleverly he managed to cook up a businessman. At night, he had a meeting with Margarita, and Don Pedro and Claudio, who had taken refuge in the garden, decided that something was Hero. Previously, don Juan managed to stipulate the governor's daughter, attributing her a secret love affair, and he only confirmed the slander and earned a thousand ducats on that. «Are they really paying so dearly for meanness?» Conrad marveled. «When a rich scoundrel needs the poor, so the poor can break the price,» Borachio boasts. The watchmen become unwitting witnesses of their conversation and, indignant at what unrighteous things are happening around, arrest both.

The hero is preparing for the wedding, she is surprised that Beatrice is not like herself - dull, silent. Is their plan a success and she fell in love?

Kizil and Bulava report to the governor that two notorious fraudsters have been detained, but Leonato is not inclined to do business on his daughter's wedding day, let the arrested be interrogated and send him the minutes.

The church is in a great scandal. Claudio refuses to marry Hero, accusing her of dishonesty. Don Pedro believes he has tarnished his honor by fostering this marriage. At night, they witnessed a secret meeting and were confused by the passionate speeches that sounded there. The slandered Hero loses its senses. Leonato does not know what to think, it is better to die than to survive such a shame. Benedict guesses whose machinations this is. Beatrice is sure that the cousin was innocently dishonored. The monk advises Leonato to declare her daughter dead, to perform a funeral rite, to observe ostentatious mourning. The rumor of death will drown out the rumor about her dishonorable maiden, the slanders will repent of their deeds. United by the desire to prove the innocence of Hero, Benedict and Beatrice confess to each other in love.

Antonio persuades Leonato not to give in to grief, but he is inconsolable and only dreams of getting even with the offenders. When Don Pedro and Claudio come to say goodbye before leaving, he accuses them of vile lies that have reduced their daughter to the grave. Antonio is ready to challenge the young man to a duel. Don Pedro does not want to listen to anything - the guilt is proven. They are surprised that Benedict is also talking about slander, calls Claudio a scoundrel and wants to fight him.


Don Pedro sees how the guards lead the arrested Conrad and Borochio, close brothers. Borochio admits that he was conspiring with don Juan, they slandered Signora Hero, and the scene in the garden was adjusted. He cannot forgive himself that the girl died without experiencing a false accusation, Claudio is shocked by what he heard. Brother - the embodiment of deceit, Don Pedro resents, committed meanness and disappeared. How now to make amends to the old man? You have no power to revive your daughter, says Leonato, so announce in Messina that she died innocent, and honor her tombstone. Since Claudio has not become a son-in-law, let him be a nephew and marry his brother's daughter. Claudio dutifully agrees. At Hero’s grave, he bitterly regrets having believed insidious libel.

When he arrives at Leonato’s house, a masked lady is brought to him and is required to swear an oath to marry her. Claudio swears such an oath, the lady opens her face, and the young man stiffens - in front of him is Hero. She was dead while the slander lived, the monk explains and begins preparations for the wedding ceremony. Benedict asks to marry him with Beatrice. The messenger informs the prince that the captured don Juan was captured and taken into custody in Messina. But they will deal with him tomorrow. Dancing begins.