Background of the Play

Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy of manners, authored by William Shakespeare, the most the most famous playwright of all times. It was first performed in 1598. Though it is a comedy that features some slapstick scenes and surface gaiety, still it has serious and profound implications.

It very well dramatizes the human psychology and the follies that human beings commit. It is one of the most celebrated comedies of manners. In the title used of the archaic word, ‘nothing’ signifies today’s counterpart ‘noting’, which elucidates the play’s purpose. This word also carries connotations of hearing or eavesdropping. 

This play has enjoyed popularity since Shakespeare’s day and has attracted the audience throughout since then. Scholarly researches show that it was influenced by Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso(1516), which is considered as its principal source. Another source that the author utilized was Matteo Bandello’s  La Prima Parte de la Novela (1554). If its language is considered, it’s one of the simplest and easily comprehensible Shakespearean plays which can be read by a modern reader. To this inference, Dogberry is an exception, whose language was not understandable even then. 

An interesting fact about this play is an entry in an official register which prevents this play from being published. This order is interpreted differently by scholarly critics. Some believe that it was done to protect it from piracy; others are of the view that it was done under puritan pressure. Its survival and attraction of the audience affirm the fact that its value can’t be demeaned by time or restrictions.

The reason behind Shakespeare’s success is his understanding of human psychology, which makes his works immortal. Like other comedies of Shakespeare in this play, there are mistaken identities, the war of genders, wrongly comprehended communications, eavesdropping, and tangled plots. Male rivalries is another recurring motif in Shakespeare and are successfully employed in this play. Like other comedies, it ends happily in the untangling and marriage of couples.

Much Ado About Nothing Summary

Much Ado is a five-act play. In the first and second acts, there are three scenes each. While the third act includes five scenes. The fourth act is the shortest, where there are only two scenes. The last act is concluded in the fourth scene. A scene-wise summary is given as follows.

Act I Summary

Scene I

The first scene in the opening act opens at Messina’s governor Leonato’s house. He is with his daughter Hero and niece Beatrice. A messenger brings news that his old friend Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon is about to arrive.

Pedro has fought a war with his half-brother Don John. He is accompanied by a young lord from Florence, Claudio, Benedick of Padua and other attendants. Beatrice asks the messenger about Benedick, apparently contemptuously, and mocks the news regarding him. Hero stays silent throughout the scene, except for one dialogue.

A little while later, Don Pedro and his company arrive. They are followed by Don John, Prince’s rival brother. When they arrive, they are greeted by the governor. Benedick and Beatrice engage in a war of words, mercilessly barbing each other. Claudio confesses his love for Hero to Benedick when they are alone. Don Pedro comes to know about it and tells him that he would talk to her father and Hero about it.

Scene II

Antonio’s servant overhears Benedick and Claudio talking. He misunderstands their conversation and reports Antonio wrong information. He tells his brother, Leonato, all that he has come to know. He tells him that Don Pedro is in love with Hero and will approach her and Leonato in the evening. Leonato asks him to tell this to Hero, or he will ask her to prepare for what is to come.

Scene III

Borachio, Don John’s companion enters and tells him that he has overheard the conversation between Don Pedro and Claudio. He tells him that Pedro would woo Hero for himself, and if succeeded will give her to Claudio. John is already not on good terms with his brother. He decides to wreak havoc on him by plotting a conspiracy against him. He plans this all with Conrade and Borachio to avenge his humiliation caused by Claudio.

Act II Summary

Scene I

Leonato has arranged a supper for his guests. He consults Hero to listen to what Pedro tells her carefully. Masks create confusion. Though the characters meet and talk to each other, they can’t recognize each other. Beatrice enters the banquet area. She ends up with Benedick, and they dance with each other. She couldn’t recognize him and tells him that Benedick is a fool. He is offended but doesn’t unmask himself and disclose his identity.

Meanwhile, Pedro approaches Hero and both of them talking leave the scene. Don John at seeing all this, reports it to Claudio. He tells him that Pedro is in love with Hero and he has confessed it to him. Hearing this infuriates Claudio, but he doesn’t express it. Beatrice finds and brings him to Pedro, who tells him that Hero and her father have agreed to the marriage. He is happy with this news and forgets what Don John has told him. Pedro, after this, tries to woo Beatrice, but she refuses to accept it because she is in a lower rank than him. Pedro asks Leonato and Hero to help him join Beatrice and Benedick.

Scene II

Don John is anxious because his first plot has failed, and Pedro is reconciled with Claudio. Borachio tells him that he has a better plan which can disrupt their peace. He has an affair with Margret who is one of Hero’s attending ladies. He will conspire with Margaret to assure Pedro and Claudio that Hero is unfaithful. For this purpose, he and Margaret will embrace each other in the window, while John will bring Pedro and Claudio. This will work effectively, and Claudio will lose his faith in Hero.

Scene III

Benedick thinks that Claudio has changed since he has won Hero. He muses over this fact sadly when he sees Pedro, Leonato and Claudio coming. He tries to hide because he can’t stand Claudio’s talk about love. But it’s of no use now because they have seen him. He hides, and they come. He says aside that he will never have anything to do with marriage. As they have seen him, they ask the troubadour to sing a love song. This annoys him, and he asserts his displeasure in an aside. Now, Pedro, Claudio and Leonato start to discuss Beatrice’s love for Benedick. Initially, he doesn’t believe it. But then he is flattered and starts believing it, falling to the trap. They leave and send Beatrice to ask him to join them at dinner.

Act III Summary

Scene I

Benedick has changed, and for this time he doesn’t argue and exchange barbs with Beatrice. He has decided that he will love her, regardless of her negligent behavior. Now Hero, plots with her attendants, Ursula and Margaret, to trick Beatrice. Margret goes and tells Beatrice that Hero and Ursula are talking about Benedick’s love for her and asks her to eavesdrop on them. When she hides, Hero speaks of Benedick’s love. She tells Ursula that Pedro and Claudio have told her about it. But Benedick can’t express it to Beatrice because she will blow it in ridicule and disdain. They discuss his good qualities, and she is flattered. She decides to requite his love and be kind to him.

Scene II

Don Pedro announces that he will leave after Claudio and Hero’s marriage, and will take Benedick along with him.  Benedick has changed much, and when asked, he says he has a toothache. He now focuses on his appearance. His face is shaved, wears perfume, and his hair is tidy. His friends start to tease him, and he is tired of their treatment.

Don John comes and tells Pedro, Claudio that he has come to know that Hero is unfaithful. They can’t believe it. John says he can prove it if they can join him in the evening at her window.

Scene III

Dogberry, the constable, appears and orders his watchmen to be careful. He gives them nonsense orders, none of which is comprehensible. He leaves two watchmen at Leonato’s house. He tells them to be careful because a ‘big marriage’ is to take place there.

The watchmen guard the door, there Borachio and Conrade are seen. They aren’t aware of guards but are in eavesdropping distance of the guards. They discuss how they planned to deceive Pedro and Claudio regarding Hero and how it was a success. They even refer to Don John’s reward for this successful plot and sabotage of Claudio’s relationship. The guards overhear them and arrest them.

Scene IV

It’s Hero’s wedding day. Hero, Ursula and Margret prepare themselves.  Margret tries to criticize Hero’s dress, but she scolds her. They tease Beatrice by telling her about Benedick, and she responds by saying that she is not feeling well. Ursula comes and tells Hero that men are waiting to take her to church.

Scene V

Dogberry and his deputy Verges stop Leonato, who is on the way to attend the wedding. Dogberry tells him that they have arrested two scoundrels, and Leonato asks about their crime. Dogberry is not clear about it and speaks nonsense. An attendant comes and asks Leonato to join others in the church. Leonato asks Dogberry to record their statements and the accusations against them.

Act IV Summary

Scene I

Claudio and Hero appear in Church where Leonato asks Friar Francis to marry them. When Claudio is asked for his consent to be wed to Hero, he responds negative. This shocks all and Leonato thinks that he is joking and asks the question differently. Hero is asked the same question, and she replies in affirmative.

Next, the friar asks about impediments that if there is any reason that they shouldn’t be married to each other. Claudio asks Hero the same question. Leonato is nervous and tries to make the ceremony move smoothly but Claudio bursts. He uses different names for Hero. He calls her a rotten orange, wanton and many other names. Leonato asks Don Pedro for help, but he instead joins Claudio in condemnations. Claudio furiously asks Hero, that who was it with whom she was in her room, the night before the wedding ceremony. 

She denies any such accusation and faints, while Claudio and Pedro leave in anger. Leonato believes all the allegations and swears that if Hero didn’t die of shame, he would kill her with his own hands.

All leave, except Beatrice and Benedick. He confesses his love for her and she responds that she will accept it if he kills Claudio. He refuses to do so, and she exclaims that if she were a man, she would have avenged it. In the end, he agrees that he will kill Claudio for her.

Scene II

In this brief scene, Dogberry and his men are shown investigating Conrade and Borachio before town sexton. Dogberry is still not clear and bumbles, while Seacoal, the watchman relates the whole incident to the sexton, which is confirmed through a confession. Don John has fled, and the accused are told that Hero has died. Dogberry and his men are told by the sexton to bring the accused to Leonato’s court. In the end, Conrade tries to insult Dogberry by calling him an ass, which infuriates him and is offended.

Act V Summary

Scene I

Leonato is sitting in his house, grieving slanders on her daughter and her death.  Antonio tries to console, but Leonato responds by saying that it can’t be understood by those who are not experiencing it. When Pedro and Claudio are about to leave, Leonato sees them and challenges Claudio to a duel for slandering his daughter. Then Benedick challenges Claudio to a duel because he is responsible for the death of an innocent person, Hero. He tells Pedro that he will no longer accompany him, while repeats that challenge to Claudio. He tells them that Don John has run away.

Dogberry and Verges appear with prisoners and watchmen. Borachio and Conrade confess their crime and tell them that all this was planned by Don John, while they executed it. Pedro and Claudio at hearing this seek pardon from Leonato for the wrong they have committed to Hero. Leonato responds that he will forgive them if Claudio announces an apology and speaks of Hero’s innocence going throughout the city. Along with that, he asks him to write a poem for Hero and sing it at her grave. Claudio accedes to his demands, and Leonato responds that he will get his niece wed to him, who is a mirror image of Hero.

Scene II

Benedick is seen trying to write poetry, but in the end, he admits that he can’t do it. Margaret comes, with whom he exchanges comments carrying sexual connotations. When she leaves, Beatrice comes, and they flirt with each other. They sit and talk with each other, Ursula comes and informs Beatrice about the plot that Don John had devised and its discovery.

Scene III

Claudio and Pedro sit at Hero’s tomb. A poem is read regarding her innocence, and a song of mourning follows. Claudio promises at the tomb that he will visit it each year. Then they leave for the villa where preparations are made for his marriage to Leonato’s niece.

Scene IV

In the final scene, friar appears to affirm Hero’s innocence. Leonato forgives Pedro and Claudio for their mistake. He asks Hero, Beatrice, Ursula and Margaret to prepare themselves and come backmasked. Claudio and Pedro come to Leonato’s home and affirms to marry his daughter. The veiled ladies come, and when one lifts her mask, Claudio is amazed, it’s Hero. He expresses his love for her.

Now Benedick asks which of the veiled ladies is Beatrice and expresses his love for her. But she responds coldly by saying that she only loves him as a friend. This annoys him and returns the response rudely. At this, poems, which both of them tried to write for each other, are produced. Ultimately, they accept each other’s love and agree to get married to each other.

A messenger arrives bringing news of Don John’s arrest. Benedick interrupts and says that he should be kept until the next day and he will invent a punishment for him.

Much Ado About Nothing Characters Analysis


Antonio is governor Leonato’s brother. We come to know about him in the first act when his servant eavesdrops on Pedro and Claudio. He doesn’t play a prominent role in the play except when Leonato confronts Pedro and Claudio at the wedding scene.  He tells his brother that he will support him whatever step he takes, showing him as a type character. After the pretended death of Hero, Leonato tells Claudio that Antonio has a daughter whom he will marry. Thus there are two or three instances when he is given a role or discussed.


Balthasar is an attendant to Leonato and is a troubadour. He writes and sings poetry to entertain him. His role is not of much consequence except when he parts with Leonato, Claudio, and Pedro to trick Benedick in Act II, Scene III.


Beatrice is Leonato’s niece and Hero’s cousin. She is a beautiful and intelligent woman who engages in barbs with Benedick. Though she refuses to believe in love, she accepts Benedick’s love and agrees to get married. She is a strong-willed person who never backs off.

In comparison to Hero’s naivete, she is an experienced and cunning person. She is a confident woman, who fights till the end until Benedick is on knees. She is a careless woman not having any regard for decorum. An instance of it is her remarks regarding Benedick before the messenger. She has strong feelings, but she doesn’t express, unlike Hero. She tests Benedick’s love and asks him to prove it by killing Claudio, who has slandered her cousin. In the last scene, she doesn’t give in until Benedick has confessed his love publicly.

Benedick of Padua

Benedick of Padua is Pedro’s companion and a young lord. He is a witty, brisk person who engages with Beatrice in disdainful comments. He expresses his contempt for marriage in the first scenes but evolves fastly. He is tricked into Beatrice’s love. After being trapped successfully, he is dragged into an affair like a schoolboy with Beatrice. He believes in friendship and is saddened by his abrupt break of relations with Claudio. He is a brave person who challenges Claudio for slandering Hero. He is a naïve person and is easily trapped by romantic talk. He can’t hide his feelings and is easily known to others. In the end, he marries Beatrice.

Borachio and Conrade

Borachio and Conrade are Don John’s companions and plot against Hero to defame her. Borachio has an affair with Margaret and uses it to carry out his plan. The watchmen overhear Conrade and Borachio’s talk, and thus their plan is intercepted. Both of them are arrested at the end for collaborating with Don John.

Count Claudio

Count Claudio is one of the major protagonists of the play and is Pedro’s companion. He is a brave young man and falls in love with Hero. He has valiantly fought against Don John and has helped defeat him. He is a foil for Benedick. He shows conventionality, immaturity, and compliant behavior.

He falls in love with Hero at first sight and easily loses faith in her when they are tricked by Don John. He is an open-minded person. He easily agrees to apologize for the slander, when he comes to know it was a conspiracy against Hero.  He doesn’t change much throughout the play. He is a shy person and can’t talk to Hero in person.

In some matters, he shows the typical mentality of men; an instance of it is when he calls Hero names when they are tricked. He seems somewhat out of place in a lively place of Messina because he is an unimaginative, unemotional, and impressionable person, unlike the rest of the characters. He is often described as the least likable hero of  Shakespeare.

Dogberry and Verges

Dogberry is a constable from Messina, while Verges is his inept deputy. Dogberry is a nonsense person and can’t be easily understood. He is in charge of the watchmen. He confuses Leonato when he approaches him. He comes to tell that his men have intercepted persons, plotting against his daughter, and is himself confused.

He is shooed at this, but later, he returns to them with all the necessary details regarding the convicts. He is an object of ridicule from the start until the end of the play. Their role is for the sake of comic relief in the play. He doesn’t change throughout the play and remains the simpleton that he is at the start. Verges hasn’t much role in the play more than being his companion, adding few dialogues with Dogberry.

Don Pedro

Don Pedro is the Prince of Aragon and has recently fought against his half brother Don John. He seems to be the most prominent role in the play in the opening scenes but later plays the godfather’s role for Claudio and Benedick. He is Leonato’s friend and is the reason behind the plot’s smooth movement. He is a friendly person and stands by Claudio when they are deceived regarding Hero. He is not on good terms with his brother, but still believes him, which shows that he is gullible.

He is a bachelor and remains so until the end of the play. Though in the end, he is pressed by Benedick to get himself a wife. He has changed to a certain extent, recognizing his fallibility and vulnerability.

Friar Francis

Friar Francis is a typical clerical role believing in people’s essential goodness. He represents the church and is the official who is responsible for the religious declaration of this marriage. He suggests mildly that Hero is not dead.


Hero is one of the major female protagonists and is a passive person. She is a shy, innocent, and beautiful young girl. She is Leonato’s daughter. She is a foil for Beatrice. She becomes the prey of a merciless plot and is abused verbally by Pedro and Claudio. She represents a typical simple woman. She is faithful to Claudio even though he accuses her and refuses to marry her.

Her role is submissive and often criticized by feminists. She is a weak person if compared to Beatrice and wants to get married. Her love seems shallow and thin. She seems more of a type than a round character. She doesn’t change throughout the play and doesn’t play any active role.  She is seen as a compromising person, always in conformity with norms.


Leonato is an Italian count and governor of Messina. He is Don Pedro’s friend, and at his house, most of the play takes place. He loves his daughter and niece and is careful regarding their protection from any mischief. He is one of the characters who undergo subtle changes. Initially, he is taken by the accusers’ charges, and he sides them.  But later, when he thinks about it, he changes his mind and wants to investigate this matter. He challenges Pedro and Claudio to a duel, but when the plot is discovered, he forgives them.


The messenger brings a message from Don Pedro regarding his arrival and remains unnamed. He is not much witty person but has more information than a typical messenger. In the last scene, he informs Leonato about the accused’s confession.


Sexton has a minor role in the play. His original role is that of a caretaker at church, but here confessions of the accused are recorded before him. He plays the role of an inquisitor.

Ursula and Margaret

Ursula and Margaret are Hero’s followers and work as her maids. Margaret is in a secret affair with Borachio and is used by him against Hero. While Ursula’s role is that of a typical maid. Ursula plays the main role in making Beatrice believe that Benedick is in love with her.


Watchmen are the persons who are assigned responsibility to watch the whereabouts of Leonato’s house. They are under Dogberry’s command and report him the details regarding the persons they have arrested. They are not very intelligent persons but still are able to arrest Borachio and Conrade.

Themes in Much Ado About Nothing

Appearance versus Reality

Appearance is often deceptive, as is very well proved in this play. In this play, we can see that every major character deceives or is deceived. At two instances, there are masked scenes, one in which Benedick is masked, and Beatrice speaks ill about him.

In another scene, four ladies are masked, and Claudio is asked to choose veiled Hero. Schemes also represent deception, we can see it in the scene when Borachio and Margaret are in the room, but Don John tells that it’s Hero and her lover.

In the first act, John deceives Claudio by saying that Pedro is wooing Hero for himself. There is deception in Don John, which Pedro and his companions fail to notice. Friar and Hero step into deception when he makes her pretend that she is dead.

Thus, the key to play is to ‘note’ as evident from its title Much Ado about Nothing (noting, observation, eavesdropping).

Love and Marriage

Like the rest of the comedies, love and marriage are prominent motifs in this play. There is a lot of talk about love and marriage.

In the opening scenes, Benedick and Claudio fall in love, and there are plots to sabotage their relationships, but who can stand love! They succeed in the end and get married. Benedick initially denies getting married and advises Claudio not to get married and refers to it as ‘a yoke.’

In the same manner, Beatrice is against love or marriage. She disdains Benedick, but a plan is contrived to make her believe that Benedick is in love with her. She is entrapped and falls in love. It isn’t that they don’t can’t love, but it takes time to accept it.

When they fall in love, they pretend to be ill.  Each waits for the other to confess, and when it happens, they take it normal.

War of Sexes

In the actual world, we frequently see a war of words going on between people of different sexes. Each of them tries to dominate the other gender. This is the theme of various screenplays, telefilms, and silver screen movies. 

Shakespeare, in this play, has employed the same topic where often  Beatrice and Benedick engage in barbs. There are misunderstandings, mistreatments, love, repelling, which are skillfully used in this play. This conflict is never-ending and has different endings, sometimes in love, otherwise in hatred. In this play, this conflict comes to an end with the marriage of Benedick and Beatrice.

This war is incessant, even if couples get married, as we see when both of them confess their love for each other. This happens when the problem between Hero and Claudio arises.  It also shows that gentlemen these days couldn’t tolerate sexual relations outside marriage.


Villainy is a necessity to create conflict, but in this play, it is not elaborate as other plays. Don John and his company don’t play the role of an ideal villain party. Shakespeare has created much better villains; an example of it is Lago. John’s role is not that ideal; rather, it’s thin.

The reasons for the wrongs he commits are not elaborated; they can only be speculated. These may be his being illegitimate, not being able to ascend the throne, hatred for legitimate relationships, and hatred for his brother Don Pedro. He doesn’t exhibit any extraordinary villainous skills except pulling wool on Pedro and Claudio’s eyes. It is not a well-developed character, rather stays on supports.

Familial/Personal Conflicts

Familial conflicts lead to a lot of problems in society; this motif is very well expressed in Much Ado. Don John has certain grievances with Don Pedro, and for this reason, he sabotages his friend’s relationship. In the same manner, we can see he is biased towards Claudio because he has defeated him; for this reason, he harms him. This motif plays a central role in the development of the plot and leads to conflict.

Loss of Honor

In the then society, gentlewomen were supposed to stay modest and chaste. No sexual relationships were allowed outside the only legal relationship, which was marriage. If any woman committed any such offense, it would result in loss of “honor” and she would be murdered for this crime.

We can see it when Hero is accused, and her father swears to kill her if she didn’t die. Loss of virginity was a crime that had many grave consequences than murder. While in the case of men, there was absolute freedom, they could visit brothels as we can see in some of his dialogues where he refers to it.

In the character of Beatrice, we can see a modern woman, who no longer needs a man to complete her life, rather she wants a husband who can treat her equally. Honor and such abstract concepts that represent dual standards are very well represented in this play.

Much Ado About Nothing Analysis

Being a comedy of manners this play very well uses figurative language, like puns, quibbles and imagery to describe the common follies. These make the reader/audience realize the mistakes commonly committed. The reader, through the tragicomic genre, is made aware of the dual standards in the society, where men and women are differently treated.

The use of verse and prose according to the need tells the reader about the sophistication of character. Plot and subplot are not much clear because the reader is confused whether Hero and Claudio are major protagonists or Beatrice and Benedick. 

Historical context elucidates the then standards of society and expected behavior. Linguistic competition using wit is used to portray the war between sexes that never comes to an end. Using deceptive appearance, the playwright discloses the ugliness hidden under the guise of a beautiful appearance.


In the opening, Shakespeare’s approach towards the characters is not compassionate; rather, it is dismissive and sharply critical. The darker sides of characters and their ills are portrayed while the beautiful shades are not paid much attention.

For example, Benedick shows disdain for marriage, and like some other plays’ protagonists show contempt for women. In the same way, Claudio shows his real self when Hero is slandered, and he refuses to marry her. Ultimately, the tone is changed, and the writer is compassionate towards the characters except for Don John.

Language (Puns, quibbles, wordplay, animal imagery)

Shakespeare employs puns, quibbles and other figurative uses of language in his plays successfully. His puns often carry sexual connotations. His wordplay makes the audience laugh. It cleverly changes the meaning through small changes in the original sentence, said by an earlier character.


If compared with other Shakespearean comedies, it carries all the characteristics of tragicomedy. It has ladies who move from virginal state to matrimony. All this happens in a rough manner. At least one female protagonist faces obstacles created by her family or other antagonists. As there is pretence of Hero’s death, some scholars call it comedy where death takes place, though a sham. This way, tension and depth are added to the comedy. An act of revenge also takes place, Beatrice asks Benedick to prove his love for her when Hero is blamed.

Animal Imagery

Animal imagery is successfully used to describe the character and his/her actions. For example, when the messenger refers to Claudio as ” doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion.” This clearly puts forth the psychology, character and actions of a person. It describes how good a follower and a meek person he is in normal situations while acts fiercely in a war. This works because everyone knows the traits of animals and it lets them understand the character.

Verse and Prose

In the majority of Shakespearean plays blank verse is used but in this play majority of the dialogues are in prose. There are no grand speeches in this play like Henry V, Julius Caesar, so commonplace language is used for normal conversation. Though there are instances of poetry by the troubadour, it is rare.

Use of Symbols

In this play, symbols like clothing, cuckold’s horns and noting are used as symbols, and they add much to the nuances of the meanings. The dress is used as a symbol for social status, where different characters try to prove that they belong to the upper class. In the case of Benedick, this symbol is more evident, when he is untidy, other characters come to know that he is in love. Dogberry tries to prove himself a gentleman by saying that he has two gowns. Clothing carries different connotations relevant to gentleman culture.

Cuckold’s horns are a symbol used throughout the play; they represent marriage. They also represent the misery in the life of those men who are married to unfaithful wives.

Noting is another symbol, which represents wrong observations and their wrong interpretation. Throughout the play, characters wrongly note each other and as a result, cause misery to others.

Historical Context

This play is set in the Italian city of Messina; the temporal setting is the sixteenth century. Majority of the scenes take place in Leonato’s house. The characters and incidence were the same as in England, but the significance may lie in the audience’s alienation. The playwright makes the audience laugh using the follies of people from another culture. He doesn’t make them realize that the same happens in their country as well. The audience doesn’t become self-conscious and defensive.

Plot and Subplot

It is unclear in this play which is plot and subplot. There is no proper difference between the two couples, and often it seems that Beatrice and Benedick are the main couple. This is because their dialogues are wittier and more interesting. In contrast, Hero and Claudio’s dialogues are dull.

For this reason, in the initial days of its performance, this play was named Beatrice and Benedick. But if seen from another perspective, it is Hero and Claudio who move the plot. This makes the plot and subplot hard to discern. Thus both are of the same importance because if Beatrice and Benedick are removed from play, it will disintegrate. Claudio and Hero are not that much funny which is the requirement of comedy; this brings Beatrice and Benedick to prominence. For this reason, they need to be given the leverage of being the primary protagonist couple.

Linguistic Competition using wit

Beatrice is a witty Shakespearean female protagonist who engages in word fight with Benedick. It happened in the sophisticated class in Elizabethan England. Both of them do their best to outwit the other. This use of witty talk is used to show their intelligence, as well as the disguise for their feelings. It was used to claim victory against the friendly rival as shown in this play. In the last scene, Benedick outwits Beatrice and earns victor’s title.


Several allusions from the Bible and Greek antiquity and later tales are used in this play. Some of these are Adam from the Bible, Troilus from the story of Troilus and Cressida, Europa and Jove, Venus, Diana etc.