Much Ado about Nothing Plot Summary
Don Pedro of Arragon comes to Messina with his comrades, Claudio of Florence and Benedick of Padua after successful battles, to visit with his friend Leonato. Leonato is the governor of Messina and a kind gentleman to all the men who visit. Claudio is enamored with Leonato's only child and daughter, Hero. Benedick, a sworn bachelor who thinks poorly of all women, cannot understand how Claudio is so love-struck. Despite his misogynistic attitude, Benedick does find time to exchange witty insults with Beatrice, Leonato's niece. Beatrice and Benedick are two strong-willed and witty confirmed bachelors who enjoy taunting one another.
Don Pedro plans to help Claudio indirectly by wooing Hero and asking for her hand to give to Leonato at the party that evening. Borachio overhears this news and tells his confidant Don John the Bastard, the brother of Don Pedro, who has also come to Messina. Don John plans to cause mischief by destroying this intended marriage.
At the party that evening, Ursula flirts with a masked Antonio, Margaret flirts with a masked Borachio, Beatrice wittily flirts with and insults a masked Benedick, and the masked prince Don Pedro woos Hero for Claudio. Don John approaches the masked Claudio, pretending to be Benedick, and tells him that Don Pedro has wood Hero for himself. Claudio becomes jealous and leaves the party. Don Pedro returns with Hero and everything works out. Hero and Claudio are to be married. After being turned down by Beatrice, Don Pedro proposes that everyone help him trick Beatrice and Benedick into falling in love with one another, since they obviously are fit for none else than each another. The next day, Claudio, Don Pedro, and Leonato trick Benedick into falling in love with Beatrice. He believes their word because Leonato reveals that Hero told him that Beatrice loves Benedick. Ursula, Hero, and Margaret do the same with Beatrice. They say how wonderful a man Benedick is in Italy and that he is in love with her. The two are still so stubborn that they have trouble revealing their real emotions.
Dogberry and Verges, two comic officers for the prince, establish a night watch for the evening before Hero and Claudio's wedding.
John the Bastard pays Borachio one thousand ducats to seduce Margaret outside Hero's window so that Claudio and Don Pedro will witness the affair and think Margaret is Hero. He does so and speaks with Margaret (as Hero) outside her window, as John brings Pedro and Claudio to watch. They are so angered that Claudio plans to disgrace Hero at their wedding in the morning.
A drunk Borachio tells Conrade of John's plot and brags of his manly conquest. The night watchmen overhear his story and place the two men under arrest. Dogberry plans to examine them, but first asks Leonato what to do. Leonato tells him to go away and examine the men.
At Hero and Claudio's wedding, Claudio shames Hero, Don Pedro defends Claudio, and the men leave irate. Hero faints and Beatrice defends her innocence. Friar Francis devises a plan to save her name. She will feign death from slander, whereupon her name will be saved.
Beatrice and Benedick proclaim their love for one another and Beatrice makes Benedick challenge Claudio for his wrongdoings. He does so. Dogberry tells Leonato, Antonio, Claudio, and Don Pedro of John the Bastard's crime and Hero's innocence. Claudio places an epitaph on Hero's supposed grave and promises to marry Antonio's daughter the next morning.
The four women arrive masked at the wedding. Hero unmasks herself after Claudio promises to take her without seeing her face. Benedick plans to marry Beatrice. The double marriage is celebrated as a messenger arrives saying that Don John the Bastard has been captured.