much ado about nothing by william shakespeare l.
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Index Page

Slides 1 -2: Summary Slide 3: Family Tree Slide 4: Character of Scout Finch Slide 5: Character of Atticus Slide 6: Character of Jem and Slide 7: Other important characters Slide 8: Other important charactersSlide 9: Themes Slide 10: Themes Slide 11: Themes Slide 12: Themes Slide 13: Key Questions and Quotations Slide 14: Summary – Key Points

slide 1 summary part 1
Slide 1: Summary – Part 1
  • Leonato, is a respectable nobleman, who lives in the Italian town of Messina with his daughter Hero and niece Beatrice and elderly brother Antonio.
  • At the start of the play Leonato prepares to welcome his friends from war – his friends include Don Pedro – a prince and close friend of Leonato and two soldiers Claudio and Benedick.
  • Claudio is a well respected nobleman, Benedick is a clever witty man who makes jokes often to ridicule his friends.
  • Don John is Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother who is also part of the group. Don John unlike his brother is sullen and bitter looking to make trouble for others.  
  • The soldiers arrive at Leonato’s home and Claudio falls in love with Hero. Whilst Benedick and Beatrice flirt through their exchange of witty insults.
  • Claudio and Hero quickly decide to get married. To pass their time before the wedding the group of friends decide to get Benedick and Beatrice to stop fighting and to fall in love with each other, the trick is successful and the two secretly fall for each other.
  • Don John in his sullen mood decides to disrupt the fun. He has his friend Borachio make love to Margaret, Hero’s serving women in Hero’s room late at night. The make love in the window and Don John brings Claudio and Don Pedro to watch – thus accusing Hero of having an affair.
  • Claudio in his anguish accuses Hero of having an affair and abandons her on the altar on the day of their wedding.
  • Hero’s humiliated family decide to pretend she has died of grief and shock, and they hide her away.
slide 2 summary part 2
Slide 2: Summary- Part 2
  • Benedick and Beatrice finally get together
  • The night watchmen overhear Borachio bragging about his crime and as a result Dogberry and Verges, the heads of the local police, arrest both Borachio and Conrad another accomplice.
  • It becomes apparent that Hero is in fact innocent.
  • Claudio who believes Hero is dead, grieves for his loss.
  • Leonato tells Claudio that to pay for his treatment of Hero he must publicly apologise and tell everybody that she is in fact innocent.
  • Leonato tells Claudio that he must also marry his niece – a young girl who looks similar to Hero.
  • Claudio goes to the church preparing to marry the mysterious niece.
  • Hero reveals herself as the mysterious niece. Claudio is overwhelmed with joy.
  • Bendick then asks Beatrice if she will marry him.
  • The joyful lovers celebrate with a dance and a double wedding.
  • This is one of Shakespeare’s comedies.
slide 3 characters the family tree
Slide 3: Characters – The Family Tree

Antonio – Brother of Leonato


Nobleman and father of Hero

Margaret –

Hero’s serving lady sleeps with Borachio


Leonato’s daughter loves Claudio


Leonato’s niece, loves Benedick

Don John

Illegitimate brother of Don Pedro

Don Pedro

Friend of Claudio


Leonato’s friend and loves Hero


Lovers =

Family =

Friends =


Friend of Don John

Benedick Friend of Claudio loves Beatrice

slide 4 characters
Slide 4: Characters

Don Pedro

  • Don Pedro is the most elusive character and also the most noble in the social hierarchy of the play.
  • He is friends with Benedick and Claudio and although they are equal in wit and intelligence ,they must rely on him and seek his approval as he is of a higher rank.
  • Don Pedro is well aware of the power he has. Whether or not he abuses his power is open to question. Don Pedro unlike his brother Don John uses his authority for a positive end.
  • Don Pedro manipulates other characters for instance, he insists on wooing Hero for Claudio himself, while masked, rather than allowing Claudio to profess his love to Hero first.
  • Obviously everything does turn out for the best and Don Pedro's motives are purely in the interest of his friend. However as the audience we are left wandering why Don Pedro feels a need to create such an elaborate plan merely to inform Hero of Claudio’s romance.
  • It would appear that it is Don Pedro’s royal right to do what he wishes.
  • Despite his strange motives he does work to bring about happiness. For example he convinces Beatrice and Bendick that they love each other, he is responsible for orchestrating the whole plot and plays the role of director.
  • Don Pedro is the only one of the three friends not to marry. Benedick jokes in the final scene that the melancholy prince must “get thee a wife” in order to enjoy true happiness (V.iv.117).
  • Don Pedro as a result is sad at the end of the joyous comedy, and the audience are left asking why? Perhaps he is pained by Beatrice’s refusal to marry him when she assumes he is joking at the ball, perhaps he does truly love her.
  • The play as a whole does not give us an explicit reason for Don Pedro's behaviour and subsequently he becomes a thought provoking and mesmerising character.
slide 5 characters
Slide 5: Characters


  • Benedick had recently returned from fighting and vows that he will never marry.
  • Benedick openly flirts with Beatrice in a battle of wits to outsmart and out insult each other.
  • However is is obvious that Benedick does love Beatrice and this is all a rouse.
  • When Benedick overhears Claudio and Don Pedro discussing Beatrices desire for Benedick he vows to be “horribly in love with her,” (II.iii.207).
  • In effect benedick is simply trying to outwit Betarice in the game of love.
  • Benedick is one of the most dramatic characters in the play. He continually performs for the benfits of others, he is an entertainer who indulges in wit and playfulness.
  • He delivers a perfect example of this during the masked ball when he exaggertaes that Beatrice used him and he expresse to his friends that he would rather be sent to the farthest corner of the world rather than spend time with his nemesis.

“Will your grace command me any service to the world’s end? I will go on the slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on. I will fetch you a toothpicker from the furthest inch of Asia . . . do you any embassage to the pigmies, rather than hold three words’ conference with this harpy” (II.i.229–235).

  • As a result of his flamboyant nature it is not easy to tell if he is in love with Beatrice all along or if he fall for her during the play.
  • His refusal to marry doesn’t change over the play, however he does change his mind when he decides to fall for Beatrice. His refusal to marry could simply be a mask to hide his true feelings.
  • The change in Benedick is evident when he challenges Claudio to a dual over Hero’s unchaste behaviour. This is when the audience realises that Benedick has switched his allegiances from Claudio his former best friend to Beatrice.
slide 6 characters
Slide 6: Characters


  • Beatrice is Leonato’s niece, although close to her cousin Hero they could not be more different. Betarice is feisty, cyuncial and witty, and continues to play a ‘merry war’ of wits with Benedick.
  • The play suggests that Beatrice was once in love with Benedick but he led her on and the relationship ended.
  • When Beatrice and Benedick meet again the two compete to outdo each other with clever insults.
  • Although she appears hardened and sharp, Beatrice is very vulnerable. Once she overhears Hero discussing that Benedick is in love with her, she opens herself to sensitivities and weakness of love.
  • Beatrice is one of Shakespeare’s strong female characters.
  • She refuses to marry because she has not discovered the perfect equal partner and she is unwilling to give up her liberty for a controlling husband.
  • Beatrice explodes at Claudio when he humiliates Hero. She overtly rages at Claudio and rebels against the unequal treatment of women. This is supported when she says
  • “O that I were a man for his sake! Or that I had any friend would be a man for my sake!” she passionately exclaims. “I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving” (IV.i.312–318).
slide 7 characters
Slide 7: Characters


  • A beautiful attractive lady. She falls for Claudio almost instantly and is crudely betrayed by the men in play.
  • When Claudio accuses her of betrayal she suffers terribly.


  • A respected and well to do noble.
  • The action of the play takes place in his home in Messina Italy
  • As governor of Messina he is second in power only to Don Pedro.


  • A very young soldier who has won great acclaim fighting under Don Pedro.
  • He falls quickly in love with Hero and appears to be a fool in love when Don John deceives him.
  • His immature attitude allows him to reject Hero as quickly as he accepts her, and he is hasty when he believes the rumours and takes his revenge on their wedding day.
slide 8 characters
Slide 8: Characters

Don John 

  • Don John is the illegitimate brother of Don Pedro; he is sometimes known as ‘the bastard’ and is often referred to by this name in the play.
  • Don John is melancholy and sullen by nature and uses the little power he has to ruin the happiness in the play, he is the villain of the play, he has an evil attitude and intends to cause chaos throughout the play. He envies his brother’s power and authority.


  • Margaret is Hero’s serving woman, who helps Borachio and Don John deceive Claudio. Margaret is of a low class, compared to Hero and her other serving woman Ursula.
  • Margaret is honest however she does have some dealings in the villanious world of the play when she helps Don John and her lover Borachio.
  • Maragaret also likes to break decorum with bawdy jokes and teasing people.


  • Borachio is the lover of Margaret, Hero’s serving woman. He works with Don John to trick Claudio and Don Pedro.
  • His name means ‘drunkard’ in Italian, which serves as a subtle direction in the play.
slide 9 themes
Slide 9: Themes

Social Grace

  • The characters in the play use dense, colourful speech, which represents the ideal that Renaissance courtiers strove for.
  • The play’s language uses metaphor and rhetoric throughout. Benedick, Claudio and Don Pedro all produce the kind of witty banter that courtiers used to attract attention.
  • Courtiers were expected to speak highly contrived language but to make it appear effortless. Bendick and his companions try to display this effortless performance in both their behaviour and language.
  • The play mocks the fanciful love language that courtiers used. For example when Claudio falls in love he tries to be perfect as Benedick notes: “His words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes” (II.iii.18–19).
  • Although the young gallants seem casual in their displays they constantly struggle to maintain their social position and Benedick and Claudio strive to remain in Don Pedro's favour.
  • When Claudio agrees to let Don Pedro woo Hero, it is not because Claudio can not but that he must stay in Don Pedro’s favour.
  • When Claudio believes Don Pedro has deceived him and wooed Hero for himself, he cannot drop his polite civility even though he is enraged. Beatrice jokes that Claudio is “civil as an orange,” punning on the Seville orange, a bitter fruit (II.i.256).
  • Claudio remains quiet and polite despite his upset when he speaks of Don Pedro and Hero: “I wish him joy of her” (II.i.170) Claudio ultimately chooses his obedience to Don Pedro over his love for Hero.
  • Claudio’s social propriety eventually leads him into a trap when he believes Don John and abandons Hero on their wedding day.
  • Obviously Don John’s plans do not work as Claudio remains in Don Pedro’s favour, and Hero has to suffer.
slide 10 themes
Slide 10: Themes


  • This play is based upon deliberate deception. Some of this deception is explicit whilst others are implicit.
  • The betrayal of Claudio results in Hero’s disgrace whilst her supposed death prepares the way for her reconciliation.
  • In a much more light-hearted way Beatrice and Benedick are deceived into thinking that each loves the other. Ultimately as a result they fall in love.
  • Subsequently the play shows that deception is not always a negative experience and creates love.
  • It is often difficult to decide what is good deception and what is bad deception. When Don Pedro woos Hero, Claudio begins to distrust him

believing he has deceived him. As the audiences believe in the illusions of the theatre it becomes apparent that the play’s characters are believing the illusions they create for each other.

  • Bendick and Beatrice flirt at the masked ball however each is aware of the others presence yet they pretend not to know each other, ultimately deceiving themselves and each other.
  • After Claudio has shamed and rejected Hero, Leonato’s household publish her death. That she died to punish Claudio.
  • When Claudio comes to marry Leonato’s niece deception takes place in the institution of marriage, suggesting that the ceremony has little to do with love.
  • Ultimately deception has positive and negative effects – it is a means to the resolution of the play. It is used to create an illusion which allows people to succeed not in love but in social stance.
slide 11 themes
Slide 11: Themes


  • The wedding ceremony in which Claudio rejects Hero and accuses of her of infidelity ultimately shaming her in front of her father is the play’s climax.
  • In Shakespeare's time a woman's worth was based on her virginity and chaste, for a woman to loose her honour by having sex before marriage ultimately meant that she would loose her social standing, something from which she would never recover.
  • The woman’s shaming would impact the whole family. As a result Leonato attempts to obliterate Hero completely to shield his family from dishonour. “Hence from her, let her die” (IV.i.153)
  • Leonato speaks of a loss of honour and he feels that he cannot escape from this loss of honour and uses the metaphor of a stain which he can not get rid of “O she is fallen / Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea / Hath drops too few to wash her clean again” (IV.i.138–140).
  • Hero’s loss of honour was a form of complete annihilation
  • For mean honour depended on friends and acquaintance in a much more military nature.
  • Men were more able to depend their honour and the honour of his family by fighting.
  • Beatrice wishes for Benedick to avenge Hero’s honour by duelling with Claudio.
  • Hero cannot gain her own honour but Benedick can do it for her.
slide 12 key quotations
Slide 12: Key Quotations

Key Quotations

Benedick speaks to Claudio and Don Pedro, about how even the wildest men eventually calm dowm to love and marriage.

The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull’s horns and set them in my forehead, and let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as they write ‘Here is good horse to hire’ let them signify under my sign ‘Here you may see Benedick, the married man.’ (I.i.215–219)

‘Beatrice gives her witty explanation as to why she will not marry

What should I do with him—dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him (II.i.28–32)

Benedick has overheard Claudio, Leonato, and Don Pedro discussing Beatrice’s

love for him. In a soliloquy he ponders this.

They say the lady is fair. ‘Tis a truth, I can bear them witness. And virtuous—’tis so, I cannot reprove it. And wise, but for loving me. By my troth, it is no addition to her wit—nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her. (II.iii.204–208)

slide 13 key quotations
Slide 13: Key Quotations

Key Quotations

Claudio has openly disgraced Hero at their wedding ceremony, returning her to Leonato

O Hero! What a Hero hadst thou beenIf half thy outward graces had been placedAbout thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!But fare thee well, most foul, most fair, farewellThou pure impiety and impious purity.For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love,And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,And never shall it more be gracious (IV.i.98–106)

Dogberry apprehends Conrad and Borachio and unravelsDon John’s plot to deceive Claudio and ruin Hero

Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! But masters, remember that I am an ass. Though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow, and which is more, an officer, and which is more, a householder, and which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows the law, go to . . . and one that hath two gowns, and everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass!          (IV.ii.67–78)

slide 14 key questions
Slide 14: Key Questions

Key Questions

  • Remind yourslef of the whole of Act 5 Scene 4 from where the Friar says “Did I not tell you she was innocent?” to the end of the play.

How appropriate do you find this scene as an ending to the play.

(AQA – June 2006)

  • What do you find interesting about Shakespeare’s presentation of Beatrice in the play?

You may confine yourself to two episodes or range more widely if you prefer.

(AQA – June 2006)

slide 15 summary
Slide 15: Summary
  • The play is one of Shakespeare's comedies and the resolution ends in the marriage of both couples.
  • The play is set in Messina in Italy
  • The action takes place at Leonato’s house
  • Leonato is Hero’s father and Beatrice’s uncle
  • Don Pedro, Claudio and Benedick return from war at the start of the play.
  • Don Pedro is the social supreme in the play.
  • Don John is the illegitimate bastard brother of Don Pedro.
  • Benedick and Beatrice fall in love
  • Hero and Claudio fall in love
  • The play focuses on the love stories. The main plot centres around the love and deception of Hero and Claudio’s relationship.
  • The sub plot follows the fanciful and playful love between Beatrice and Benedick.
  • Both Hero and Claudio are deceived by Don John and Borachio.
  • The play centres around deception – deception has negative and positive effects in the play.
  • Leonato is Hero’s father and as a result suffers the shame and deception of Don John and Borachio.
  • The play reflects many of the social circumstances of the time such as honour, love, social standing and social grace.
  • The use of language is important throughout the play.