Study Guide

Much Ado About Nothing Act V, Scene iv

By William Shakespeare

Act V, Scene iv

  • At Leonato’s house, Leonato, Benedick, Beatrice, Margaret, Ursula, Antonio, Friar Francis, and Hero are gathered and recounting all the recent developments. Everyone’s glad that Hero is innocent. Don Pedro and Claudio are innocent too, since they were only misled.
  • Further, Leonato says it came out in the court examination that that though Margaret played a role in the deception, she didn’t know it, and is innocent of the crime too.
  • Leonato’s glad things turned out so well, and Benedick is glad that he won’t have to kill or severely maim his friend Claudio after all.
  • It’s about time for Don Pedro and Claudio to arrive, and Leonato begins to instruct people on the roles they should play. The ladies should all go away and not come back until they’re called. When they arrive, they should all have their faces masked in some way.
  • Antonio will play his part by pretending the masked girl he’ll present to Claudio for marriage is his daughter, when actually it’s Hero!
  • With the ladies out of the room, Benedick speaks with Leonato and Friar Francis. He says that Beatrice loves him (which Leonato says is thanks to Hero), and the he loves Beatrice (which Leonato then credits to himself, Don Pedro, and Claudio). 
  • Benedick doesn’t quite understand what Leonato means, but he does say he’d like to be married to Beatrice today if possible. 
  • Leonato gives his blessing, and the Friar says he's happy to perform the service. Double wedding, everybody!
  • Then Don Pedro, Claudio, and some others enter.
  • Leonato asks if Claudio is still ready to marry Antonio’s daughter, and Claudio graciously replies that he’ll marry her even if she’s an Ethiope (way to be racist, Shakespeare.)
  • Leonato sends Antonio off to get "Antonio’s daughter."
  • Don Pedro and Claudio start heckling Benedick, who they think is looking out of sorts, likely over the marriage situation. 
  • Benedick doesn’t reveal to them his intention to marry Beatrice just yet, instead he compares Claudio’s mom to a cow. (This is a good read. You should definitely check out your book.)
  • Before Claudio can call Benedick’s mom a heifer, Antonio re-enters with all the masked ladies.
  • Claudio would like to see his soon-to-be wife's face, but Leonato says he has to take her hand and accept her first.
  • Claudio takes the mystery girl’s hand and swears that he’s her husband, if she’ll have him.
  • Hero whips off her mask, and Claudio is psyched to see "another Hero." 
  • Hero says that the Hero who was slandered is dead, but this Hero—who is still an innocent maiden—lives. 
  • Prince Don Pedro then declares this is the former Hero, the one that's dead. Um...at least they're getting warmer. 
  • Leonato clarifies that Hero was "dead" only while her slander lived on.
  • The Friar says he'll explain everything, but for now, they should just roll with it and get this marriage in the books.
  • There’s another hold up on the way to the chapel, as Benedick stops the Friar and asks which masked lady is Beatrice.
  • Beatrice steps forth, and then she and Benedick engage in the most silly, passive aggressive (and, even we’ll admit it, kind of endearing) exchanges ever to happen between two lovesick people. Benedick publicly asks Beatrice if she loves him, and she denies it —kind of. So Benedick also kind of denies it when she throws the same question back at him.
  • Both seem a little taken aback, first by how publicly their word is being tested, but also by the fact that they each had "inside information" about the other's secret crush. 
  • They’re about to shake hands and relegate each other to a life of being in simply the friend zone, but thankfully Hero and Claudio pipe up.
  • Claudio shows off a little note he’s stolen—it’s a really bad poem in Benedick’s handwriting, clearly meant for Beatrice.
  • Hero is also a thief, as she’s taken from her cousin Beatrice’s pocket a similar note, declaring Beatrice’s love for Benedick.
  • Benedick and Beatrice realize their hands have revealed their hearts.
  • Though they tease that they’re only marrying each other out of pity, they finally just start making out (at least it’s the first time in the stage directions).
  • Prince Don Pedro again teases Benedick about getting married (in spite of how often he railed against it). 
  • Benedick says nobody can wreck his mood today, and he won't listen to any bad words about marriage—not even his own. Then he tells Claudio that he would have kicked his butt if they had ever dueled, but he'll let Claudio off the hook now that their related by marriage. 
  • Claudio jests that he hoped Benedick wouldn’t marry Beatrice, as Claudio wanted to see Benedick become a married man and also a cheater. Then again, Benedick might end up being a cheater anyway...if Beatrice doesn’t keep a close eye on him. (If this is his best man toast, it needs work.)
  • Benedick calls for dancing, though Leonato thinks they really should have marriages before dancing. The old man is ignored, and Benedick calls for music.
  • Then Benedick teases Don Pedro about needing to get a wife.
  • Finally, randomly, a messenger comes in and announces that Don John was captured and brought back to Messina. 
  • Benedick counsels Don Pedro to not worry about this right now, and instead, to be merry, and everyone exits in a dance.