Much Ado About Nothing minimized

The play takes place in Sicily, in the port city of Messina.  The Prince and two soldiers, Benedick and Claudio, have just arrived.  Leonato, Messina’s governor, along with his daughter, Hero, and his niece, Beatrice, have welcomed the men to Messina.

1. Claudio quickly falls for Hero. Benedick practically ignores Beatrice, the two having known each other for some time.  Benedick alerts the Prince of Claudio’s interest in Hero.  The Prince decides to masquerade as Claudio at the governor’s party that night and to woo Hero on Claudio’s behalf.  As well, Leonato is advised of Claudio’s interest in his daughter. Overhearing the disguised Prince whisper in Hero’s ear, Don John, the Prince’s brother, a mischief maker, sees opportunity.

2.  A disguised Benedick also attends the party. He dances with Beatrice, but she’s on to his disguise. She taunts him, saying “Benedick is a very dull fool.” Don John tells Claudio he’s lost Hero to the Prince. The Prince tells Claudio that his plan worked. Leonato makes plans for a wedding.  Claudio is confused.  Don John asks his aide Borachio to disrupt the wedding.

3. The men trick Benedick, distorting Beatrice’s interest in him; the women play a similar trick on Beatrice.  Both tricks work. Separately, Margaret, an aide to Hero and Borachio’s girlfriend, plans to be behind thin curtains in Hero’s bedroom that night. She’ll kiss Borachio. Borachio will call her Hero. Don John tells Claudio that “your lady is disloyal,” suggesting he stand below Hero’s window that night and see for himself, and that he bring along the Prince. The nasty trick works.

4. Leonato has planned a church wedding. The service begins. Claudio asks Hero “what man talked with you at your window yesternight betwixt twelve and one?”  She denies being there with any man. The Prince supports Claudio’s claim. Hero faints. Most of the men exit. An angry Leonato shouts “Let her die.” The friar has a plan: let people believe Hero has died. Benedick and Beatrice quietly express their love for each other.

5. Borachio lets Leonato know of the cruel hoax he perpetrated. Leonato has Claudio and the Prince accept a list of demands, and they agree to them. Claudio is, among other things, to marry Leonato’s niece, Leonato telling him that she is “almost a copy of my child.” A second wedding service is held. The bride enters, masked. She and Claudio marry.  Hero unmasks. Claudio is ecstatic. Beatrice and Benedick marry, as happy as they’ve ever been together.