Act I - Scene I

[Before Leonato's House]

[Enter Leonato, Governor of Messins; Hero, his daughter; and Beatrice, his niece, with a messenger.]

LEONATO:
I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon comes
this night to Messina.
MESSENGER:
He is very near by this. He was not three leagues off
when I left him.
LEONATO:
How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?(5)
MESSENGER:
But few of any sort, and none of name.
LEONATO:
A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home
full numbers. I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed
much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio.
MESSENGER:
Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered(10)
by Don Pedro. He hath borne himself beyond the promise of
his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion. He
hath indeed better bettered expectation than you must
expect of me to tell you how.
LEONATO:
He hath an uncle here in Messina who will be very(15)
much glad of it.
MESSENGER:
I have already delivered him letters, and there
appears much joy in him; even so much that joy could not
show itself modest enough without a badge of bitterness.
LEONATO:
Did he break out into tears?(20)
MESSENGER:
In great measure.
LEONATO:
A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer
than those that are so washed. How much better is it to
weep at joy than to joy at weeping!
BEATRICE:
I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the(25)
wars or no?
MESSENGER:
I know none of that name, lady. There was none
such in the army of any sort.
LEONATO:
What is he that you ask for, niece?
HERO:
My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.(30)
MESSENGER:
O, he's returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.
BEATRICE:
He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged
Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge,
subscribed for Cupid and challenged him at the
birdbolt. I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten(35)
in these wars? But how many hath he killed? For, indeed
I promised to eat all of his killing.
LEONATO:
Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much;
but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not.
MESSENGER:
He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.(40)
BEATRICE:
You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it.
He is a very valiant trencherman; he hath an excellent
stomach.
MESSENGER:
And a good soldier too, lady.
BEATRICE:
And a good soldier to a lady; but what is he to a lord?(45)
MESSENGER:
A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all
honourable virtues.
BEATRICE:
It is so indeed. He is no less than a stuffed man; but
for the stuffing—well, we are all mortal.
LEONATO:
You must not, my lord, mistake my niece. There is(50)
a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her.
They never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between
them.
BEATRICE:
Alas! He gets nothing by that. In our last conflict
four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the(55)
whole man governed with one; so that if he have wit
enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference
between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth
that he hath left to be known a reasonable creature. Who
is his companion now? He hath every month a new(60)
sworn brother.
MESSENGER:
Is't possible?
BEATRICE:
Very easily possible. He wears his faith but as the
fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next block.
MESSENGER:
I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.(65)
BEATRICE:
No, and if he were, I would burn my study. But I
pray you, who is his companion? Is there no young
squarer now that will make a voyage with him to the
devil?
MESSENGER:
He is most in the company of the right noble(70)
Claudio.
BEATRICE:
O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease! He is
sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs
presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! If he have
caught the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere(75)
he be cured.
MESSENGER:
I will hold friends with you, lady.
BEATRICE:
Do, good friend.
LEONATO:
You will never run mad, niece.
BEATRICE:
No, not till a hot January.(80)
MESSENGER:
Don Pedro is approached.


Enter Don Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, and [Don] John the Bastard.


DON PEDRO:
Good Signior Leonato, are you come to meet your
trouble? The fashion of the world is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.
LEONATO:
Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your
Grace; for trouble being gone, comfort should remain; but(85)
when you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness
takes his leave.
DON PEDRO:
You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this
is your daughter.
LEONATO:
Her mother hath many times told me so.(90)
BENEDICK:
Were you in doubt, my lord, that you asked her?
LEONATO:
Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
DON PEDRO:
You have it full, Benedick. We may guess by this
what you are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers herself. Be
happy, lady; for you are like an honourable father.(95)
BENEDICK:
If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not have
his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she
is.
BEATRICE:
I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
Benedick; Nobody marks you.(100)
BENEDICK:
What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
BEATRICE:
Is it possible Disdain should die while she hath such
meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself
must convert to disdain if you come in her presence.
BENEDICK:
Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved(105)
of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in
my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none.
BEATRICE:
A dear happiness to women! They would else have
been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and
my cold blood, I am of your humour for that. I had rather(110)
hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves
me.
BENEDICK:
God keep your ladyship still in that mind! So some
gentleman or other shall scape a predestinate scratched
face.(115)
BEATRICE:
Scratching could not make it worse an 'twere such
a face as yours were.
BENEDICK:
Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
BEATRICE:
A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
BENEDICK:
I would my horse had the speed of your tongue,(120)
and so good a continuer. But keep your way, a God's
name! I have done.
BEATRICE:
You always end with a jade's trick. I know you of
old.
DON PEDRO:
That is the sum of all, Leonato. Signior Claudio(125)
and Signior Benedick, my dear friend Leonato hath
invited you all. I tell him we shall stay here at the least a
month, and he heartily prays some occasion may detain
us longer. I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from
his heart.(130)
LEONATO:
If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn.
Let me bid you welcome, my lord. Being reconciled
to the prince your brother, I owe you all duty.

[To Don John]

DON JOHN:
I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank
you.(135)
LEONATO:
Please it your Grace lead on?
DON PEDRO:
Your hand, Leonato. We will go together.


Exeunt [all but] Benedick and Claudio.


CLAUDIO:
Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior
Leonato?
BENEDICK:
I noted her not, but I looked on her.(140)
CLAUDIO:
Is she not a modest young lady?
BENEDICK:
Do you question me, as an honest man should do,
for my simple true judgment? or would you have me
speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to
their sex?(145)
CLAUDIO:
No. I pray thee speak in sober judgment.
BENEDICK:
Why, i' faith, methinks she's too low for a high
praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great
praise. Only this commendation I can afford her, that were
she other than she is, she were unhandsome, and being no(150)
other but as she is, I do not like her.
CLAUDIO:
Thou thinkest I am in sport. I pray thee tell me truly
how thou likest her.
BENEDICK:
Would you buy her, that you enquire after her?
CLAUDIO:
Can the world buy such a jewel?(155)
BENEDICK:
Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with
a sad brow? or do you play the flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid
is a good hare-finder and Vulcan a rare carpenter? Come,
in what key shall a man take you to go in the song?
CLAUDIO:
In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.(160)
BENEDICK:
I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such
matter. There's her cousin, an she were not possessed with a
fury, exceeds her as much in beauty as the first of May doth
the last of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn
husband, have you?(165)
CLAUDIO:
I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the
contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
BENEDICK:
Is't come to this? In faith, hath not the world one man
but he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a
bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i' faith! An thou wilt(170)
needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it and
sigh away Sundays. Look; Don Pedro is returned to seek
you.


Enter Don Pedro.


DON PEDRO:
What secret hath held you here, that you followed
not to Leonato's?(175)
BENEDICK:
I would your Grace would constrain me to tell.
DON PEDRO:
I charge thee on thy allegiance.
BENEDICK:
You hear, Count Claudio. I can be secret as a dumb
man, I would have you think so; but, on my allegiance—
mark you this—on my allegiance! he is in love. With who?(180)
Now that is your Grace's part. Mark how short his answer is:
With Hero, Leonato's short daughter.
CLAUDIO:
If this were so, so were it uttered.
BENEDICK:
Like the old tale, my lord: ‘it is not so, nor ’twas not
so; but indeed, God forbid it should be so!'(185)
CLAUDIO:
If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should
be otherwise.
DON PEDRO:
Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well
worthy.
CLAUDIO:
You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.(190)
DON PEDRO:
By my troth, I speak my thought.
CLAUDIO:
And, in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.
BENEDICK:
And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke
mine.
CLAUDIO:
That I love her, I feel.(195)
DON PEDRO:
That she is worthy, I know.
BENEDICK:
That I neither feel how she should be loved, nor
know how she should be worthy, is the opinion that fire
cannot melt out of me. I will die in it at the stake.
DON PEDRO:
Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite(200)
of beauty.
CLAUDIO:
And never could maintain his part but in the force
of his will.
BENEDICK:
That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she
brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks;(205)
but that I will have a recheate winded in my forehead,
or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women
shall pardon me. Because I will not do them the wrong to
mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none; and
the fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a(210)
bachelor.
DON PEDRO:
I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
BENEDICK:
With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord;
not with love. Prove that ever I lose more blood with love
than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes(215)
with a ballad-maker's pen and hang me up at the door of
a brothel house for the sign of blind Cupid.
DON PEDRO:
Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou
wilt prove a notable argument.
BENEDICK:
If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot at(220)
me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder
and called Adam.
DON PEDRO:
Well, as time shall try. ‘In time the savage bull
doth bear the yoke.’
BENEDICK:
The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible(225)
Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull's horns and set them
in my forehead, and let me be vilely painted, and in such
great letters as they write ‘Here is good horse to hire,’ let
them signify under my sign. ‘Here you may see Benedick
the married man.’(230)
CLAUDIO:
If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.
DON PEDRO:
Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice,
thou wilt quake for this shortly.
BENEDICK:
I look for an earthquake too, then.
DON PEDRO:
Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the(235)
meantime, good Signior Benedick, repair to Leonato's, commend
mend me to him and tell him I will not fail him at supper;
for indeed he hath made great preparation.
BENEDICK:
I have almost matter enough in me for such an
embassage; and so I commit you—(240)
CLAUDIO:
To the tuition of God. From my house—if I had it—
DON PEDRO:
The sixth of July. Your loving friend, Benedick.
BENEDICK:
Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse
is sometime guarded with fragments, and the guards are but
slightly basted on neither. Ere you flout old ends any further,(245)
examine your conscience. And so I leave you.


[Exit.]


CLAUDIO:
My liege, your highness now may do me good.
DON PEDRO:
My love is thine to teach. Teach it but how,
And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
Any hard lesson that may do thee good.(250)
CLAUDIO:
Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
DON PEDRO:
No child but Hero; she's his only heir. Dost thou
affect her, Claudio?
CLAUDIO:
O my lord,
When you went onward on this ended action,(255)
I looked upon her with a soldier's eye,
That liked, but had a rougher task in hand
Than to drive liking to the name of love;
But now I am returned and that war-thoughts
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms(260)
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying I liked her ere I went to wars.
DON PEDRO:
Thou wilt be like a lover presently
And tire the hearer with a book of words.(265)
If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
And I will break with her and with her father,
And thou shalt have her. Wast not to this end
That thou began'st to twist so fine a story?
CLAUDIO:
How sweetly you do minister to love,(270)
That know love's grief by his complexion!
But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
I would have salved it with a longer treatise.
DON PEDRO:
What need the bridge much broader than the
flood?(275)
The fairest grant is the necessity.
Look, what will serve is fit.
'Tis once, thou lovest,
And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know we shall have revelling to-night.(280)
I will assume thy part in some disguise
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio,
And in her bosom I'll unclasp my heart
And take her hearing prisoner with the force
And strong encounter of my amorous tale.(285)
Then after to her father will I break;
And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
In practice let us put it presently.

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. The verb “to temporize” means to adapt oneself to the time and circumstances. It also means to let time pass. Don Pedro uses both meanings of the word here, implying that as time passes for Benedick, his love for Hero will either pass or diminish.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  2. This is a reference to Adam Bell, a character in the poem Of Sir Thomas Norrey by William Dunbar. Adam Bell is a legendary English outlaw and archer who lives in Carlisle, Cumbria. He has an altruistic nature much like that of Robin Hood.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  3. In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of love and affection. He is known in Greek mythology as Eros. Cupid is depicted as being blind and carrying a bow and arrow.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  4. Vulcan is the Roman god of fire, especially the fire from volcanoes. He is known in Greek mythology as Hephaestus. Vulcan is often depicted with a blacksmith’s hammer to show his expertise in the field.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  5. Here, the verb “to flout” means to quote or recite with a sarcastic purpose. Benedick asks if Claudio is trying to convince them of something they know not to be true. He refers to Cupid’s (usually blind) being able to see, and Vulcan’s (the famous blacksmith) being a great carpenter. Benedick wants to be sure that Claudio’s feelings about Hero are true.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  6. Although the noun “jade” usually refers to the gemstone, Beatrice uses a different meaning here: a “jade” is a playful name for a contemptuous or inferior horse. Beatrice calls Benedick a jade to insinuate that he dropped out of their battle of wits because of his inferiority.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  7. A “birdbolt” is a kind of blunt-headed arrow used for shooting birds, often used in beginner’s level archery. Beatrice mocks Benedick here, suggesting that he can’t do serious damage in love or war because of his novice status.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  8. Don Pedro employs a vivid metaphor to foreshadow Benedick’s eventual surrender to the forces of love. The phrase itself is drawn from the work of Elizabethan poet Thomas Watson. In Watson’s 1582 collection Hekatompathia, Sonnet 47 opens with the line, “In time the Bull is brought to wear the yoke.” That line was, in turn, taken from the Italian poet Seraphine, whose Sonnetto 103 begins, “Col tempo et Villanello all giogo mena/El Tor si fiero, e si crudo animale”—which roughly translates into Watson’s line. Shakespeare fittingly returns the metaphor to the mouth of an Italian character.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. In an elaborately constructed sentence, Benedick expresses one reason for not marrying: namely, that he understands his inability to trust women. Each verb, noun and object in the sentence’s dependent clause finds its opposite in the independent clause. “Will not do” becomes “will do,” “them” becomes “myself,” “wrong” becomes “right,” and so on. One can read these logical opposites as a metaphor for Benedick’s choice to behave in opposition to social norms by choosing to remain a bachelor.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. The word “recheate” is an archaic term for the call hunters issue to summon their hounds to retreat. Benedick’s idea here is that, having left the womb of his mother, he does not wish to be summoned back to the world of women by way of marriage.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. There is perhaps no piece of dialogue that better demonstrates the differences between Claudio and Benedick. Claudio’s expression of love for Hero is clear, earnest, and spoken from the heart. Benedick’s reply is syntactically convoluted and cloaked in irony and overwrought metaphors.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. Shakespeare often built metaphors based on the seasons of the year. In this case, the metaphor works on two levels. On one level, the seasons represent different degrees of human beauty, with May indicating a greater amount beauty than December. On another level, the seasons represent different temperaments. May, with its warm weather, stands in for the “fury” of Beatrice’s personality, whereas December might point to a comparatively cooler individual.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. Benedick’s wordplay is another example of the type of banter common in Much Ado About Nothing. He twists Claudio’s image of the jewel into the new image of a case. The case is at once related—jewels go into cases—yet in aid of an opposite perspective.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. This exchange between Claudio and Benedick displays the vast difference between their personalities and attitudes. Claudio characterizes Hero as “such a jewel,” after which Benedick evokes the image of “a case to put it into.” Claudio is a romantic, crafting flattering metaphors for Hero. Benedick is a misogynist, expressing negative attitudes about women.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. Benedick admits to being a “professed tyrant” to women. His attitudes towards women are similar to the attitudes Beatrice holds towards men. Shakespeare creates an intriguing balance between the four central characters of the play. The two pairs of couples—Claudio and Hero, Benedick and Beatrice—are mirrors of one another. It is clear thus far that Shakespeare is creating character doubles, a favorite technique.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  16. This line sparks the central romantic thread of the play: Claudio’s courting of Hero. The line also reveals the significant difference in personality between Claudio and Benedick. Claudio is straightforward, and unafraid to express his interest in Hero.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  17. This line, with its vivid metaphor, reveals a great deal about Beatrice’s character. She is fiercely independent, and has no interest in being courted by a man. As the scene unfolds, it becomes clear that Beatrice and Benedick share this trait in common. Benedick holds a similar scorn for women.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  18. A “squarer” is an archaic word that means “quarreler.” Shakespeare may have invented this definition of the word, as Beatrice’s line of dialogue is the oldest known record of its use.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  19. This saying from Beatrice is an example of an adynaton—a figure of speech meant to indicate an impossibility. “Not till a hot January” has an almost identical meaning to common adynatons such as “when hell freezes over” or “when pigs fly.”

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  20. Beatrice jokes that Claudio might catch Benedick as if he were a disease. The suggestion is that Benedick will spread his irritating demeanour to the calmer, more reserved Claudio.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  21. This banter between the messenger and Beatrice is an example of the centrality of wordplay in Much Ado About Nothing. Throughout the play, characters build upon each other’s language, repurposing language to produce new puns. For example, here the messenger states that Benedick is “stuffed with all honourable virtues.” Beatrice turns the image around, calling Benedick “a stuffed man”—a doll, or dummy.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  22. Beatrice’s comments about Benedick introduce their relationship, defined by mutual teasing. Here Beatrice is calling Benedick gluttonous. The word “victual” is an archaic synonym for “food,” and “trencherman” refers to a big eater.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  23. The lion and the lamb are important mythological symbols, both commonly found in the Bible. The lamb represents meekness and docility, while the lion represents boldness and violence. The messenger’s metaphor suggests that Don Pedro’s frail exterior belies his forcefulness.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  24. As with many of his plays, Shakespeare decided to set the events of Much Ado About Nothing in Italy. The specific setting is Messina, a seaport on the island of Sicily. Shakespeare drew much of the material in Much Ado About Nothing from a 1554 novella by the Italian writer Matteo Bandello entitled La Prima Parte de le Nouelle. Bandello’s novel provided the setting of Messina, as well as the core love story between Claudio and Hero.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  25. Leonato’s niece Beatrice hears the news that Don Pedro and his company are visiting. Included in the group is Benedick—Beatrice’s “sworn enemy.” Every time the two meet, they continue their battle of wits. In this passage, Beatrice proclaims her victory from their last encounter and how Benedick is now left with only one wit. Beatrice’s statement implies that Benedick is even less intelligent and witty than a half-wit, or fool.

    — Jane, Owl Eyes Staff
  26. Claudio hasn't yet told Hero he's in love with her and he's afraid she will reject him. Don Pedro has offered his assistance: he will pretend to be Claudio at the ball because everyone will be wearing masks. Don Pedro will tell Hero he is Claudio and that he's in love with her, and then see what she says. Thus, Claudio doesn't have to put himself in such a vulnerable position.

    — Sarah St. Albin, Owl Eyes Staff
  27. Beatrice and Benedick have some of the wittiest dialogue in this romantic comedy. Here, Beatrice starts this round of insults by asking Benedick why he continues to speak if no one is listening to him. She knows how much he loves the attention he gets from others, and so this insult is meant to deflate his ego. His response includes the first of many playful nicknames that Benedick continues to use throughout the play. He calls her “Lady Disdain” to accuse her of disliking everything and to show that her insult did no harm. She responds with just as witty a retort, saying that he provides so much disdain for her to feed on that she'll never die.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  28. In other words, I'll tell her what is in my heart privately.

    — Stephen Holliday
  29. That is, I will speak to Hero and her father on your behalf.

    — Stephen Holliday
  30. In other words, I had other things on my mind than thinking abut love.

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

    — Stephen Holliday
  32. A reference to Venice as the city with a reputation for wild affairs between men and women.

    — Stephen Holliday
  33. That is, stark crazy--and implying that the horns are maddening because they are the horns of a cuckold or betrayed husband.

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

    — Stephen Holliday
  35. This is most likely a tongue-in-cheek reference to Shakespeare himself, a poet as well as a playwright.

    — Stephen Holliday
  36. Benedick's willfulness is the only thing that allows him to argue such things about women.  In Elizabethan thought, willfulness was considered to be a serious flaw in a gentleman.

    — Stephen Holliday
  37. One who goes against accepted truths, as in religious beliefs.

    — Stephen Holliday
  38. In other words, you are trying to trick me into disclosing more.

    — Stephen Holliday
  39. Claudio implies that Benedick would have disclosed his secret anyway.

    — Stephen Holliday
  40. The implication is that a married man finds it difficult to get away from his house and wife on Sundays, perhaps because his duty is to attend church.

    — Stephen Holliday
  41. Benedick refers to the fact that a married man must be suspicious of becoming a cuckold (i. e., a husband whose wife takes a lover).  The symbol of a cuckhold is a set of horns, which would be underneath the husband's cap.

    — Stephen Holliday
  42. While Beatrice and Benedick have been exchanging insults, Don Pedro has been explaining to Leonato what he has been doing in the recent weeks.

    — Stephen Holliday
  43. Another insult--Benedick is more like a doll than a real man.

    — Stephen Holliday
  44. Benedick acknowledges that Beatrice is more beautiful than Hero, but her beauty is negated by her personality.

    — Stephen Holliday
  45. In other words, she is too short, too dark, and too small overall.

    — Stephen Holliday
  46. In other words, I criticize women whenever I have the chance.

    — Stephen Holliday
  47. Leonato has now turned to Don John, Don Pedro's estranged brother.  This is the first serious dialogue in the opening scene.  Leonato implies that there has been bad blood between Don Pedro and his illegitimate brother, Don John.  As an illegitimate son, Don John has no hope of ruling his brother's kingdom except through usurping Don Pedro's position.  But Leonato acknowledges that because the brothers have reconciled he owes equal hospitality to Don John.

    — Stephen Holliday
  48. An insult--you keep repeating yourself (the way a parrot learns to talk).

    — Stephen Holliday
  49. Beatrice is saying that she agrees with Benedick--she couldn't love him under any circumstances.

    — Stephen Holliday
  50. That is, the daughter looks like her father, so there is no doubt about her parentage.

    — Stephen Holliday
  51. Leonato implies that only Benedick could have seduced his wife--a polite, self-deprecating joke.

    — Stephen Holliday
  52. Beatrice refers not to the plague, which cannot be cured, but to a sexually transmitted disease.

    — Stephen Holliday
  53. This is more than just a joke--Beatrice accuses Benedick of having no fixed principles.  He changes his beliefs as he would change his hat.

    — Stephen Holliday
  54. That is, four of his five senses--sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell--which were referred to in Shakespeare's time as the "outward wits."  This could also be a reference to the imagination, common wit, fantasy, estimation, and memory, known as the "inward wits."

    — Stephen Holliday
  55. Beatrice refers here to Benedick, using most likely a fencing term for a thrust from lower to higher (*montanto).  *In boxing, it would be like an undercut to the jaw.

    — Stephen Holliday
  56. In other words, it is better to weep for joy than to be joyful because someone else is sad.

    — Stephen Holliday
  57. This implies that Claudio does not look like a warrior but performs like an experienced soldier.

    — Stephen Holliday
  58. That is, a victory is sweeter when there are few losses on the victor's side.

    — Stephen Holliday
  59. That is, no one of the upper class or royalty.  In this society, commoners generally are not worth mentioning. 

    — Stephen Holliday
  60. A league equals about three miles, so Don Pedro is about nine miles away.

    — Stephen Holliday