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Diction in Much Ado About Nothing

Diction Examples in Much Ado About Nothing:

Act I - Scene I

🔒 10

"And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart..."   (Act I - Scene I)

In other words, I'll tell her what is in my heart privately.

"break with her and with her father,..."   (Act I - Scene I)

That is, I will speak to Hero and her father on your behalf.

"but had a rougher task in hand Than to drive liking to the name of love;..."   (Act I - Scene I)

In other words, I had other things on my mind than thinking abut love.

" And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn Any hard lesson that may do thee good..."   (Act I - Scene I)

In other words, ask me to do anything you want and you'll see how quickly I can respond to help you.

"if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument...."   (Act I - Scene I)

That is, if you ever change your mind about women, you will be a perfect example that change is possible.

" You speak this to fetch me in, my lord..."   (Act I - Scene I)

In other words, you are trying to trick me into disclosing more.

"He is no less than a stuffed man..."   (Act I - Scene I)

Another insult which states that Benedick is more like a doll than a real man.

"too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise..."   (Act I - Scene I)

In other words, she is too short, too dark, and too small overall.

" as being a professed tyrant to their sex..."   (Act I - Scene I)

In other words, I criticize women whenever I have the chance.

"you are a rare parrot-teacher..."   (Act I - Scene I)

An insult meaning that someone keeps repeating him or herself, the way a parrot learns to talk.

"Good cousin, have a care this busy time...."   (Act I - Scene II)

In other words, be very careful during this busy time.

"Would the cook were of my(60) mind!..."   (Act I - Scene III)

In other words, I wish the cook thought like me and (presumably) poisoned the food.

"What is he for a fool that betroths himself to unquietness?..."   (Act I - Scene III)

In other words, what kind of fool would marry when marriage causes such unhappiness?

" I am trusted with a(25) muzzle and enfranchised with a clog..."   (Act I - Scene III)

In other words, I am trusted only as long as I am muzzled and hobbled so I can't do any damage.

"it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any..."   (Act I - Scene III)

In other words, I would rather be hated for my true self than to be loved by pretending to be nice.

"to apply a moral medicine to a mortifying mischief..."   (Act I - Scene III)

In other words, using commonplace sayings to try to cure a serious problem; an ineffective remedy.

"I cry you mercy, uncle..."   (Act II - Scene I)

Beatrice is either saying, "Please, give me a break," or, "God have mercy on you, uncle,' as a way of saying farewell.

"infect to the North Star..."   (Act II - Scene I)

That is, if her "terminations" were her breath, the infection would reach all the way to the North Star.

"my very visor began to assume life and scold with her..."   (Act II - Scene I)

In other words, Beatrice was so verbally abusive that Benedick's mask took on a life of its own and began arguing with her.

"you apprehend passing shrewdly..."   (Act II - Scene I)

In other words, your understanding is too clever (more likely, twisted by your view of men).

"by being too curst, God will send you no horns..."   (Act II - Scene I)

In other words, because your disposition is so nasty, God will not give you the ability (long horns) to do much damage to anyone.

"Look you for any other issue?..."   (Act II - Scene II)

That is, what more could you ask for?  Note how deception, which is an innocent pastime in the hands of Don Pedro, becomes deadly in Don John's hands—simply to  amuse himself, he is willing to deceive his brother, torment Claudio, ruin an innocent girl's reputation, and perhaps kill her father with shame.

"What life is in that to be the death of this marriage?..."   (Act II - Scene II)

In other words, what good will that do to kill this marriage?

"There was never counterfeit of passion came so near the life of passion as she discovers(100) it...."   (Act II - Scene III)

In other words, Beatrice's passion is so strong that it couldn't possibly be false.

"It is the witness still of excellency To put a strange face on his own perfection...."   (Act II - Scene III)

That is, it is typical of someone skilled not to acknowledge that skill.

"tax not so bad a voice(40) To slander music any more than once...."   (Act II - Scene III)

That is, don't ask my poor singing to ruin any more music than I already have.

"May I be so converted and see with these eyes?..."   (Act II - Scene III)

In other words, is it possible for me to become like Claudio?

"No glory lives behind the back of such...."   (Act III - Scene I)

That is, a person who is prideful and contemptuous will be condemned behind his or her back.

"What fire is in mine ears? ..."   (Act III - Scene I)

This is Shakespeare's literary illustration of the adage that one's ears burn when one is being spoken about.

"If you dare not trust that you see, confess not that you know. ..."   (Act III - Scene II)

That is, if you cannot believe your own eyes, acknowledge that you do not understand anything.

"But seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion is?..."   (Act III - Scene III)

That is, don't you realize how deceiving fashion is? It disguises the true form of a person.

"Yes, it is apparel...."   (Act III - Scene III)

That is, clothes are not fashionable to a man—they are just clothes.

"for the ewe that will not hear her lamb when it baes will never answer a calf when he bleats...."   (Act III - Scene III)

In other words, the nurse is like an ewe who can't hear her own lamb bleating: if the nurse can't hear her child crying, don't bother with her—let the child's crying wake her up.  This is just another way the night watch manages to do its job by doing nothing.

"We know what belongs to a watch...."   (Act III - Scene III)

Another funny line—the watchman is saying, we know we're supposed to sleep while on watch.

"if they should have any allegiance in them..."   (Act III - Scene III)

The word allegiance in this line is often thought to be some kind of *malapropism *(mis-speaking) due to Dogberry's constant mis-use of words, but if we change *if *to *except or unless, *the word *allegiance *makes sense.

"for your favour, my lord..."   (Act III - Scene III)

Dogberry is saying sarcastically, "for favoring us with your presence."

"he eats his meat without grudging..."   (Act III - Scene IV)

That is, Benedick has changed his mind [about women] and is like other men.

"Yet Benedick was such another..."   (Act III - Scene IV)

That is, yet Benedick was just like you once—a confirmed hater of the opposite sex.

"yours is worth ten on't...."   (Act III - Scene IV)

That is, your gown is ten times better than the Duchess of Milan's.

" round underborne with a blush tinsel..."   (Act III - Scene IV)

That is, trimmed at the bottom with bluish-tinted silver thread.

"By my troth's but a nightgown in respect of yours..."   (Act III - Scene IV)

That is, the Duchess of Milan's gown is like a nightgown compared to Hero's dress.

"He is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie, and swears it...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, a man now can be as brave as Hercules by bragging about his great deeds and then swearing an oath.

"But manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into compliment..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

In other words, men are now concerned with politeness, and bravery is now turned into nothing but courtly behavior.

"With no sauce that can be devised to it...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, there is nothing that can make me take back my oath.

"It is a man's office, but not yours...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

Beatrice implies that Benedick cannot carry out the task she is thinking of either because he cannot physically perform the task or because he would refuse to perform the task.

"For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, for unusual illnesses the physicians create unusual cures.

"As secretly and justly as your soul Should with your body...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

In other words, Benedick will keep the plan as much of a secret as Leonato would in his heart of hearts.

"The supposition of the lady's death Will quench the wonder of her infamy...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, [even if Hero is guilty], the news of her death will overcome the memory of her moral weakness.

"Let this be so, and doubt not but success..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

The Friar means "If I am correct [that Hero is innocent], this plan will turn out even better than I describe it."

"Shall come apparelled in more precious habit,..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, Hero will appear to be even more beautiful than she was while alive.

"Into his study of imagination,..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, as Claudio thinks about Hero, he will have a revery, that is, a dream-like experience of her life.

"To quit me of them thoroughly...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, to take revenge upon those who have falsely accused my daughter.

"The practice of it lives in Don John the bastard, Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, Don John is responsible for this because he specializes in creating trouble.

"trust not my age, My reverence, calling, nor divinity,(175) If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here Under some biting error. ..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, if you believe in my priesthood and my holiness, believe that this lady has been unfairly charged.

"For I have only been silent so long, And given way unto this course of fortune, By noting of the lady...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, I have been silent amongst all these accusations because I have been observing Hero.

"And salt too little which may season give To her foul tainted flesh!..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, there is not enough salt, which is a seasoning, to make Hero palatable.

"Myself would on the rearward of reproaches Strike at thy life. ..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

After the evidence of these crimes, I would kill you myself.

"Dost thou look up?..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, are you looking to God for help [considering Hero has committed such a crime]?

"If half thy outward graces had been placed About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

In other words, if you had been as inwardly faithful as you seemed to be outlwardly.

"She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

In other words, she is unfaithful.  The word luxury, in Shakespeare's language, had the connotation of sexual or lustful activity, so Claudio is accusing her of having an illicit affair before her marriage.

"She's but the sign and semblance of her honour...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

That is, Hero is only a shell of her honor (implying that her honor is gone).

"but I will go about with him..."   (Act IV - Scene II)

When Dogberry says *about, *he means a bout, as in a bout in a boxing match.

"Yours, sirrah?..."   (Act IV - Scene II)

Sirrah is a contemptuous form of sir, always used for social inferiors.

"How her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow...."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, to understand how Margaret got involved with Borachio (and Conrade).

"I discharge thee of thy prisoner..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, I am taking over the responsibility for your prisoner.

"Who I believe was packed in all this wrong,..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, who was innocently caught up in all this wrongdoing.

"and dispose(285) For henceforth of poor Claudio...."   (Act V - Scene I)

In other words, that will be my future (to be married to Hero's cousin).

" if your love Can labour aught in sad invention,..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, if your love (for Hero) can require you to do something in Hero's honor.

"I cannot bid you bid my daughter live;..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, I cannot order you to order my daughter to live again.

"Here stand a pair of honourable men..."   (Act V - Scene I)

Leonato sarcastically refers to Don Pedro and Claudio.  Leonato most likely uses honourable to mean self-righteous.

"that I am an ass...."   (Act V - Scene I)

What Dogberry means, of course, is that he has been called an ass (by the defendants).

"now thy image doth appear In the rare semblance that I loved it first...."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, I see you now, Hero, as you appeared to me when I first fell in love with you.

"how you disgraced her when you should marry her...."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, how you were convinced to condemn Hero just before you were to marry her.

"This learned constable is too cunning to be understood. ..."   (Act V - Scene I)

Said sarcastically: this scholarly constable is too smart for me to understand.

"that you are thus bound to your answer?..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, why are you now bound (in handcuffs) and required to answer the charges in court?

"If justice cannot tame you, she shall ne'er weigh more reasons in her balance...."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, if Justice cannot convict you (he is referring to Borachio), she will never again be trusted to weigh evidence in her scales.

"He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape a doctor(195) to such a man..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, when a man leaves his intelligence behind, he is like a giant to an ape, and an ape is as smart as a doctor compared to a man without intelligence.

"What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his doublet and hose and leaves off his wit!..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, how childish a man is who puts on his fine clothes but forgets his common sense.

"though very many have been beside their wit...."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, many men have lost their minds [when under stress].

"In a false quarrel there is no true valour...."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, in a quarrel based on false information, neither side can win any honor.

"I doubt we should have been too young for them...."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, I think we would have proven old enough to fight them successfully.

"Win me and wear me!..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, fight me, kill me, and then you can brag about the fight.

"in a tomb where never scandal slept,..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, a person accused of scandal has never been buried here.

"However they have writ the style of gods And made a push at chance and sufferance...."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, despite the fact that the [Greek] gods are described as not suffering, we humans shove aside bad luck and suffering.

"But no man's virtue nor sufficiency(30) To be so moral when he shall endure The like himself...."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, no man's strength or morality will help him when he has to endure such grief.

" but, tasting it, Their counsel turns to passion..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, if someone experiences real grief, words become meaningless as passion takes over.

"hem..."   (Act V - Scene I)

That is, say something like "ahem," a sound for clearing the throat, meaning nothing, instead of the sound of sorrow like a groan.

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