Notes on Characters from Much Ado about Nothing

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Much Ado about Nothing Major Characters

Don Pedro (the Prince of Arragon): Don Pedro is the kind prince of Arragon who arrives in Messina after battle to stay with his friend, Leonato, for a month. He is single and assists in matching-up both Claudio and Hero and Beatrice and Benedick. He proposes to Beatrice, only to be turned down. He also witnesses Hero's supposed unmaiden-like behavior and defends Claudio in his disgracing of Hero. He is found innocent at the end of the play and is one of the only single men remaining. His brother is Don John the Bastard.

Leonato: Leonato is the governor of Messina and the father of Hero. He is a kind man and old friend of Don Pedro. He happily gives his daughter Hero to Claudio in marriage, and is so angry at her disgrace that he wishes her dead. He plans to avenge her disgrace and sets Claudio up to marry her again at the end of the play.

Don John (the Bastard): Don John the Bastard is the brother of Don Pedro and villain of this comedy. He craves mischief and plans to destroy the lives of the people in Messina. He employs his comrade, Borachio, to pretend to be with Hero, when he is actually with Margaret, so that the prince and Claudio can see. He flees Messina after Claudio disgraces Hero and is later caught by the sexton.

Claudio: Claudio is a young man in the prince's command who falls in love with Hero. He is very jealous and allows the prince to woo her and get her father's blessing for him. When he thinks he sees Hero with Borachio, he erupts and disgraces Hero at their wedding. When he believes Hero is dead, he mourns her and when he realizes that she was wronged, he places an epitaph on her grave and promises to marry her cousin. He and Hero marry in the final scene of the play.

Benedick: Benedick is a witty, confirmed bachelor in Don Pedro's company. He is friends with Claudio and Pedro and cannot understand why anyone would want to marry. He carries on a witty and insulting relationship with Beatrice, who he eventually falls in love with. He promises Beatrice that he will challenge Claudio to fight in Hero's honor and eventually declares his love for Beatrice. By the end of the play, he cannot understand why one would not want to marry.

Beatrice: Beatrice is the witty, strong-willed niece of Leonato and cousin of Hero. She carries on an insulting witty tournament of words with Benedick, with whom she later falls in love. She is hurt when Hero is wronged in public and makes Benedick challenge Claudio. Although she is also a confirmed bachelor, she plans to marry Benedick by the end of the play.

Hero: Although she speaks little in the play, Hero is the source of much commotion. She is in love with Claudio and framed by Don John. At her wedding, Claudio shames her by saying she is unfaithful. She feigns her death and watches as Messina mourns. When her name is cleared she marries Claudio.

Dogberry: Dogberry is one of the prince's officers and the comic relief of this play. He humorously puts his guards on watch and examines Borachio and Conrade. He tells Leonato of the crimes of these men and is rewarded generously for his service.

Minor Characters

Antonio: Antonio is Leonato's older brother and the uncle to Hero. He is generally seen as a jolly old man. However, when Hero is shamed and disgraced, it is Antonio who vents his anger very loudly. He pretends to have a carbon copy daughter of Hero, to whom Claudio will marry in the final scene of the play.

Borachio: Borachio is one of John the Bastard's comrades. He is the man who pretends to be "speaking" with Hero at her window, when instead he is with Margaret. John pays him one thousand ducats to do the dirty deed. Borachio later confesses to Dogberry and the sexton of his crimes.

Conrade: Conrade is Borachio's friend who is also captured by the night watchmen. He insists on being treated as a gentleman and calls Dogberry an ass.

Verges: Verges is Dogberry's headborough. He is always at his side and assists in examining the criminals. Dogberry constantly puts him down, for he feels that Verges is inferior to him. He is also an officer of the prince.

Ursula: Ursula is one of Hero's waiting gentlewomen. She assists Hero in setting Beatrice up with Benedick. She also flirts with Antonio at the party in the beginning of the play. Ursula is the messenger who breaks the good news to Beatrice and Benedick that Hero's name is cleared and that John the Bastard is the culprit behind all the villainy.

Margaret: Margaret is another one of Hero's waiting gentlewomen. She is young and quick-witted. Unknowingly, she helps in Don John's plot against everyone in Messina by speaking with Borachio outside Hero's window. When Hero is accused of infidelity, it is really Margaret who has been unmaiden-like.

Friar Francis: Friar Francis is the man who is supposed to reside over the wedding ceremony between Hero and Claudio. When Claudio disgraces her, he believes Hero to be innocent and tries to convince everyone that she is belied. He comes up with the plan to feign Hero's death until all matters have been cleared, and proceed with a new wedding in the near future.

Balthazar: Balthazar is the play's musician. He lends music to the prince's company and gives a serene atmosphere to Messina.

Sexton: The sexton helps in examining Borachio and Conrade in jail. He shows Dogberry how to take care of the criminals and also brings word of the occurrences at the infamous wedding ceremony. He looks down upon Dogberry and eventually captures Don John.

Messengers: Throughout the play, several messengers come onstage and off to report important events to the characters, from the arrival of Don Pedro and his men, to the capture of Don John.

Innogen: Innogen is Hero's mother and Leonato's wife. She never speaks during the play and is only present at large gatherings such as the first scene and the weddings. She is often left out of staged productions.

Watchmen: Dogberry employs a few night watchmen to keep an eye on the happenings of Messina during this very joyous wedding time. They capture Borachio and Conrade on word of Borachio's affair with Margaret and the framing of Hero.

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