Much Ado about Nothing Act 2, Scene 1: "A Hall in Leonato's House"
Leonato, Antonio, Hero, and Beatrice discuss their dinner and the attendees. Leonato thinks that Count John (the Bastard) was at dinner, but was unseen. Beatrice remarks that he gives her a bad feeling and never speaks. She says that if Benedick possessed half the melancholy of Count John and Count John half the tongue of Benedick, a good man would be made. She further states how she is happy single. She also explains how she would never dote on a man with a beard. Beatrice entertains her family with tales of her fate and funny stories about men. She warns Hero to pick a good man, since she is not a happy single. Leonato reminds Hero about her positive answer if the prince is to woo her that evening.
Prince Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Bathazar, Don John, Borachio, Margaret and Ursula (waiting ladies on Hero), enter the hall in masks. Everyone is at a grand party in Messina. Don Pedro takes Hero aside and begins to woo her, while Borachio and Margaret speak of lust with one another, and Ursula and Antonio lightly flirt. Beatrice and Benedick begin to flirt as well, however, their usual conversation results in insults and quick wit. Beatrice puts down the masked Benedick by calling him a court jester. Benedick is hurt by Beatrice's words and wants revenge. The music starts up again and everyone leaves the stage to dance except Don John, Borachio, and Claudio. Don John and Borachio approach Claudio and ask if he is Benedick. Claudio assumes the role of Benedick for the moment and answers that yes he is Benedick. Don John and Borachio tell Claudio that Don Pedro wooed Hero for himself. Claudio is enraged.
"Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love:
Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agents; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not." Act 2, Scene 1, lines 184-191
Don Pedro comes to find Claudio and asks Benedick where he is. Benedick doesn't understand why Claudio suddenly left the party when he told him that Don Pedro wooed Hero for him. Don Pedro tells Benedick that Beatrice has a bone to pick with him. Benedick goes on a tirade of how Beatrice is the one who insulted him, not him her.
Claudio, Beatrice, Hero, and Leonato come to speak with Don Pedro. Benedick is so outraged at seeing Beatrice that he asks Don Pedro for a transfer out of his command. When he is turned down, he leaves the scene. Beatrice brings Claudio to Don Pedro and hints at jealousy as the root of Claudio's anger. Don Pedro explains that he wooed Hero in Claudio's name and that all marriage arrangements are made. Hero and Claudio kiss and become a happy couple. Everyone wonders why Beatrice will not marry because she is such a wonderful person. "There's little of the melancholy element in her, my lord: she is never sad but when she sleeps; and not ever sad then, for I have heard my daughter say, she hath often dreamed of unhappiness and waked herself with laughing" Act 2, Scene 1, lines 359-362. Don Pedro asks her to marry him, but she turns him down by saying that his position in life is too great for her. She does not want to marry a prince. She wishes her cousins happiness and leaves. Don Pedro decides that Beatrice and Benedick are a perfect match for one another, for they are both stuffed with a large tongue and quick wit. "I will in the interim undertake one of Hercules' labors, which is, to bring Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection the one with the other" Act 2, Scene 1, lines 382-385. Everyone decides to help Don Pedro with this matchmaking task.