Act I - Scene III


[Another Room in Leonato's House]

Enter Sir [Don] John and Conrade, his companion

CONRADE:
What the goodyear, my lord! Why are you thus out of
measure sad?
DON JOHN:
There is no measure in the occasion that breeds;
therefore the sadness is without limit.
CONRADE:
You should hear reason.(5)
DON JOHN:
And when I have heard it, what blessings brings it?
CONRADE:
If not a present remedy, at least a patient sufferance.
DON JOHN:
I wonder that thou being, as thou say'st thou art, born
under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral medicine to a
mortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad(10)
when I have cause, and smile at no man's jests; eat when I
have stomach, and wait for no man's leisure; sleep when I am
drowsy, and tend on no man's business; laugh when I am
merry, and claw no man in his humour.
CONRADE:
Yea, but you must not make the full show of this till(15)
you may do it without controlment. You have of late stood
out against your brother, and he hath ta'en you newly into
his grace, whereit is impossible you should take true root
but by the fair weather that you make yourself. It is needful
that you frame the season for your own harvest.(20)
DON JOHN:
I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his
grace, and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than
to fashion a carriage to rob love from any. In this, though I
cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be
denied but I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a(25)
muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have
decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I
would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking. In
the meantime let me be that I am, and seek not to alter
me.(30)
CONRADE:
Can you make no use of your discontent?
DON JOHN:
I make all use of it, for I use it only.
Who comes here?

[Enter Borachio.]
What news, Borachio?
BORACHIO:
I came yonder from a great supper. The prince
your brother is royally entertained by Leonato, and I can(35)
give you intelligence of an intended marriage.
DON JOHN:
Will it serve for any model to build mischief on?
What is he for a fool that betroths himself to
unquietness?
BORACHIO:
Marry, it is your brother's right hand.(40)
DON JOHN:
Who? the most exquisite Claudio?
BORACHIO:
Even he.
DON JOHN:
A proper squire! And who? and who? which way
looks he?
BORACHIO:
Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.(45)
DON JOHN:
A very forward March-chick! How came you to
this?
BORACHIO:
Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was smoking
a musty room, comes me the prince and Claudio,
hand in hand in sad conference. I whipt me behind the(50)
arras and there heard it agreed upon that the prince
should woo Hero for himself, and having obtained her,
give her to Count Claudio.
DON JOHN:
Come, come, let us thither. This may prove food to
my displeasure. That young start-up hath all the glory of(55)
my overthrow. If I can cross him any way, I bless myself
every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?
CONRADE:
To the death, my lord.
DON JOHN:
Let us to the great supper. Their cheer is the
greater that I am subdued. Would the cook were of my(60)
mind! Shall we go prove what's to be done?
BORACHIO:
We'll wait upon your lordship.

[Exeunt.]

Footnotes

  1. Shakespeare believed that the position of the planets influenced a person’s temperament. He subscribed to ancient cosmology, influenced by Greek philosophers like Aristotle. Here, Don John mentions those born under Saturn as having a melancholic temperament and a gloomy nature.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  2. In a pair of sentences related through slant rhyme, Don John discusses his primary motivation: to fuel his “displeasure.” Despite his recent reunion with his brother, Don John cares most about undermining Don Pedro. Don John fulfills the role of the archetypal villain, rather like Iago in Othello.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. In this speech, Don John further expresses his stubborn personality. Through rich images, Don John states that individualism is more important to him than acceptance. He would “rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose.” He would, in a word, rather be disliked for who he is than liked for pretending to be someone else.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Conrade begins to reveal the nature of the relationship between Don John and Don Pedro, his older brother. The renowned Don Pedro has recently accepted Don John after a period of estrangement and political rivalry.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Don John introduces himself as an earnest and straightforward character. As he puts it, “I cannot hide what I am.” When he is sad, as is the case in this scene, he says that he “must be sad.” One of the play’s central themes is confusion, deceit and miscommunication. Don John establishes himself as a character who speaks directly.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. In other words, I wish the cook thought like me and (presumably) poisoned the food.

    — Stephen Holliday
  7. That is, Claudio was instrumental in Don John's defeat in his battle against Don Pedro.

    — Stephen Holliday
  8. the curtain or perhaps a tapestry used to separate parts of a room

    — Stephen Holliday
  9. A classic Shakespearean *double-entendre *(word with a double-meaning): as a perfumer, Borachio might be burning incense to clear the air in the "musty room." Also, the phrase "smoking out" often means searching for something, which fits Borachio and the situation, who is looking for something that will allow Don John to cause trouble.

    — Stephen Holliday
  10. In other words, what kind of fool would marry when marriage causes such unhappiness?

    — Stephen Holliday
  11. I am trusted only as long as I am muzzled and hobbled so I can't do any damage.

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

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

    — Stephen Holliday