Act II - Scene I

[A Hall in Leonato's House]

Enter Claudio, Beatrice, Leonato, and Hero.

LEONATO:
Was not Count Don John here at supper?
ANTONIO:
I saw him not.
BEATRICE:
How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see him
but I am heart-burned an hour after.
HERO:
He is of a very melancholy disposition.(5)
BEATRICE:
He were an excellent man that were made just in the
midway between him and Benedick. The one is too like an
image and says nothing, and the other too like my lady's eldest
son, evermore tattling.
LEONATO:
Then half Signior Benedick's tongue in Count Don(10)
John's mouth, and half Count Don John's melancholy in
Signior Benedick's face—
BEATRICE:
With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money
enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman in
the world—if 'a could get her good will.(15)
LEONATO:
By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband
if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.
ANTONIO:
In faith, she's too curst.
BEATRICE:
Too curst is more than curst. I shall lessen God's sending
that way, for it is said, ‘God sends a curst cow short(20)
horns’; but to a cow too curst he sends none.
LEONATO:
So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns.
BEATRICE:
Just, if he send me no husband; for the which blessing
I am at him upon my knees every morning and evening.
Lord, I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face.(25)
I had rather lie in the woollen!
LEONATO:
You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
BEATRICE:
What should I do with him? dress him in my
apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that
hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no(30)
beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth
is not for me; and he that is less than a man, I am not for
him. Therefore I will even take sixpence in earnest of the
bear-ward and lead his apes into hell.
LEONATO:
Well then, go you into hell?(35)
BEATRICE:
No; but to the gate, and there will the devil meet me
like an old cuckold with horns on his head, and say ‘Get
you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven. Here's no
place for you maids.’ So deliver I up my apes, and away
to Saint Peter—for the heavens. He shows me where the(40)
bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the day is
long.
ANTONIO:
[To Hero] Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled by
your father.
BEATRICE:
Yes faith. It is my cousin's duty to make courtesy(45)
and say, ‘Father, as it please you.’ But yet for all that,
cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else make
another courtesy, and say, ‘Father, as it please me.’
LEONATO:
Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a
husband.(50)
BEATRICE:
Not till God make men of some other metal than
earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered
with a piece of valiant dust? to make an account of her
life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I'll none.
Adam's sons are my brethren, and truly I hold it a sin to(55)
match in my kindred.
LEONATO:
Daughter, remember what I told you. If the prince
do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer.
BEATRICE:
The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not
wooed in good time. If the prince be too important, tell(60)
him there is measure in everything, and so dance out the
answer. For, hear me, Hero, wooing, wedding, and
repenting is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a
cinquepace: the first suit is hot and hasty like a Scotch jig—and
full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly modest, as a(65)
measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes
repentance and with his bad legs falls into the cinquepace
faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.
LEONATO:
Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.
BEATRICE:
I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by(70)
daylight.
LEONATO:
The revellers are entering, brother. Make good room.

Enter Prince [Don] Pedro, Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar, [Don] John, [Borachio, Margaret, Ursula, and others, masked.]

DON PEDRO:
Lady, will you walk about with your friend?
HERO:
So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing, I am
yours for the walk; and especially when I walk away.(75)
DON PEDRO:
With me in your company?
HERO:
I may say so when I please.
DON PEDRO:
And when please you to say so?
HERO:
When I like your favour, for God defend the lute should
be like the case!(80)
DON PEDRO:
My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is
Jove.
HERO:
Why then, your visor should be thatched.
DON PEDRO:
Speak low if you speak love.

[Draws her aside.]

BALTHASAR:
Well, I would you did like me.(85)
MARGARET:
So would not I for your own sake, for I have many ill
qualities.
BALTHASAR:
Which is one?
MARGARET:
I say my prayers aloud.
BALTHASAR:
I love you the better. The hearers may cry Amen.(90)
MARGARET:
God match me with a good dancer!
BALTHASAR:
Amen.
MARGARET:
And God keep him out of my sight when the dance
is done! Answer, clerk.
BALTHASAR:
No more words. The clerk is answered.(95)

[Takes her aside.]

URSULA:
I know you well enough. You are Signior Antonio.
ANTONIO:
At a word, I am not.
URSULA:
I know you by the waggling of your head.
ANTONIO:
To tell you true, I counterfeit him.
URSULA:
You could never do him so ill-well unless you were the(100)
very man. Here's his dry hand up and down. You are he, you
are he!
ANTONIO:
At a word, I am not.
URSULA:
Come, come, do you think I do not know you by your
excellent wit? Can virtue hide itself? Go to, mum, you are(105)
he. Graces will appear, and there's an end.

[They step aside.]

BEATRICE:
Will you not tell me who told you so?
BENEDICK:
No, you shall pardon me.
BEATRICE:
Nor will you not tell me who you are?
BENEDICK:
Not now.(110)
BEATRICE:
That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit
out of the Hundred Merry Tales—well, this was Signior
Benedick that said so.
BENEDICK:
What's he?
BEATRICE:
I am sure you know him well enough.(115)
BENEDICK:
Not I, believe me.
BEATRICE:
Did he never make you laugh?
BENEDICK:
I pray you, what is he?
BEATRICE:
Why, he is the prince's jester, a very dull fool. Only
his gift is in devising impossible slanders. None but(120)
libertines delight in him; and the commendation is not in
his wit, but in his villainy; for he both pleases men and
angers them, and then they laugh at him and beat him. I
am sure he is in the fleet. I would he had boarded me.
BENEDICK:
When I know the gentleman, I'll tell him what you(125)
say.
BEATRICE:
Do, do. He'll but break a comparison or two on me;
which peradventure, not marked or not laughed at,
strikes him into melancholy; and then there's a partridge
wing saved, for the fool will eat no supper that night. We(130)
must follow the leaders.

Music for the dance.

BENEDICK:
In every good thing.
BEATRICE:
Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the
next turning.

Exeunt. [All but Don John, Borachio, and Claudio.]

DON JOHN:
Sure my brother is amorous on Hero and hath(135)
withdrawn her father to break with him about it. The
ladies follow her and but one visor remains.
BORACHIO:
And that is Claudio. I know him by his bearing.
DON JOHN:
Are you not Signior Benedick?
CLAUDIO:
You know me well. I am he.(140)
DON JOHN:
Signior, you are very near my brother in his love.
He is enamoured on Hero. I pray you dissuade him from
her; she is no equal for his birth. You may do the part of
an honest man in it.
CLAUDIO:
How know you he loves her?(145)
DON JOHN:
I heard him swear his affection.
BORACHIO:
So did I too, and he swore he would marry her
tonight.
DON JOHN:
Come, let us to the banquet.

Exeunt [Don John and Borachio.]

CLAUDIO:
Thus answer I in name of Benedick,(150)
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
'Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love.
Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;(155)
let every eye negotiate for itself,
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell therefore Hero!(160)

Enter Benedick [unmasked.]

BENEDICK:
Count Claudio?
CLAUDIO:
Yea, the same.
BENEDICK:
Come, will you go with me?
CLAUDIO:
Whither?
BENEDICK:
Even to the next willow, about your own business,(165)
county. What fashion will you wear the garland of? about
your neck, like an usurer's chain? or under your arm, like a
lieutenant's scarf? You must wear it one way, for the prince
hath got your Hero.
CLAUDIO:
I wish him joy of her.(170)
BENEDICK:
Why, that's spoken like an honest drovier. So they
sell bullocks. But did you think the prince would have
served you thus?
CLAUDIO:
I pray you leave me.
BENEDICK:
Ho! now you strike like the blind man! 'Twas the boy(175)
that stole your meat, and you'll beat the post.
CLAUDIO:
If it will not be, I'll leave you.

Exit.

BENEDICK:
Alas, poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into sedges.
But, that my Lady Beatrice should know me, and not know
me! The prince's fool! Ha! it may be I go under that title(180)
because I am merry. Yea, but so I am apt to do myself wrong.
I am not so reputed. It is the base though bitter, disposition
of Beatrice that puts the world into her person and so gives
me out. Well, I'll be revenged as I may.

Enter [The Prince] Don Pedro.

DON PEDRO:
Now, signior, where's the count? Did you see(185)
him?
BENEDICK:
Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady
Fame. I found him here as melancholy as a lodge in a
warren. I told him, and I think I told him true, that your
grace had got the good will of this young lady, and I(190)
offered him my company to a willow tree, either to make
him a garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him up a rod,
as being worthy to be whipped.
DON PEDRO:
To be whipped? What's his fault?
BENEDICK:
The flat transgression of a schoolboy who, being(195)
overjoyed with finding a bird's nest, shows it his companion,
and he steals it.
DON PEDRO:
Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The
transgression is in the stealer.
BENEDICK:
Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made,(200)
and the garland too; for the garland he might have worn
himself, and the rod he might have bestowed on you,
who, as I take it, have stolen his birds' nest.
DON PEDRO:
I will but teach them to sing and restore them to
the owner.(205)
BENEDICK:
If their singing answer your saying, by my faith,
you say honestly.
DON PEDRO:
The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you. The
gentleman that danced with her told her she is much
wronged by you.(210)
BENEDICK:
O, she misused me past the endurance of a block!
An oak but with one green leaf on it would have
answered her; my very visor began to assume life and
scold with her. She told me, not thinking I had been
myself, that I was the prince's jester, that I was duller than(215)
a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest with such
impossible conveyance upon me that I stood like a man at a
mark, with a whole army shooting at me. She speaks
poniards, and every word stabs. If her breath were as
terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her;(220)
she would infect to the North Star. I would not marry her
though she were endowed with all that Adam had left
him before he transgressed. She would have made
Hercules have turned spit, yea, and have cleft his club
to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her. You shall find(225)
her the infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God
some scholar would conjure her, for certainly, while she is
here, a man may live as quiet in hell as in a sanctuary; and
people sin upon purpose, because they would go thither; so
indeed all disquiet, horror, and perturbation follows her.(230)

Enter Leonato; his brother, [Antonio], Hero, his daughter; and Beatrice, his niece and a kinsman.

DON PEDRO:
Look, here she comes.
BENEDICK:
Will your Grace command me any service to the
world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now to the
Antipodes that you can devise to send me on; I will fetch
you a toothpicker now from the furthest inch of Asia; bring(235)
you the length of Prester Don John's foot; fetch you a hair
off the great Cham's beard; do you any embassage to the
Pygmies—rather than hold three words' conference with
this harpy. You have no employment for me?
DON PEDRO:
None, but to desire your good company.(240)
BENEDICK:
O God, my lord, here's a dish I love not! I cannot
endure my Lady Tongue.

Exit.

DON PEDRO:
Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior
Benedick.
BEATRICE:
Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile, and I gave him(245)
use for it—a double heart for his single one. Marry, once
before he won it of me with false dice; therefore your Grace
may well say I have lost it.
DON PEDRO:
You have put him down, lady; you have put him
down.(250)
BEATRICE:
So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I should
prove the mother of fools. I have brought Count Claudio,
whom you sent me to seek.
DON PEDRO:
Why, how now, count? Wherefore are you sad?
CLAUDIO:
Not sad, my lord.(255)
DON PEDRO:
How then? sick?
CLAUDIO:
Neither, my lord.
BEATRICE:
The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well;
but civil count—civil as an orange, and something of that
jealous complexion.(260)
DON PEDRO:
I' faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true; though
I'll be sworn, if he be so, his conceit is false. Here, Claudio,
I have wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won. I have broke
with her father, and his good will obtained. Name the day of
marriage, and God give thee joy!(265)
LEONATO:
Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my
fortunes. His Grace hath made the match, and all grace
say Amen to it!
BEATRICE:
Speak, count, 'tis your cue.
CLAUDIO:
Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were but little(270)
happy if I could say how much. Lady, as you are mine,
I am yours. I give away myself for you and dote upon the
exchange.
BEATRICE:
Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth
with a kiss and let not him speak neither.(275)
DON PEDRO:
In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.
BEATRICE:
Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on the
windy side of care. My cousin tells him in his ear that he
is in her heart.
CLAUDIO:
And so she doth, cousin.(280)
BEATRICE:
Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the
world but I, and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner
and cry ‘Heigh-ho for a husband!’
DON PEDRO:
Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
BEATRICE:
I would rather have one of your father's getting.(285)
Hath your Grace ne'er a brother like you? Your father got
excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.
DON PEDRO:
Will you have me, lady?
BEATRICE:
No, my lord, unless I might have another for working
days: your Grace is too costly to wear every day. But I(290)
beseech your Grace pardon me. I was born to speak all
mirth and no matter.
DON PEDRO:
Your silence most offends me, and to be merry
best becomes you, for out o' question you were born in a
merry hour.(295)
BEATRICE:
No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there
was a star danced, and under that was I born. Cousins,
God give you joy!
LEONATO:
Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?
BEATRICE:
I cry you mercy, uncle, By your Grace's pardon.(300)

Exit Beatrice.

DON PEDRO:
By my troth, a pleasant-spirited lady.
LEONATO:
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
dreamt of unhappiness and waked herself with laughing.(305)
DON PEDRO:
She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.
LEONATO:
O, by no means! She mocks all her wooers out of suit.
DON PEDRO:
She were an excellent wife for Benedick.
LEONATO:
O Lord, my lord! if they were but a week married, they
would talk themselves mad.(310)
DON PEDRO:
County Claudio, when mean you to go to church?
CLAUDIO:
To-morrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches till love
have all his rites.
LEONATO:
Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence just
sevennight; and a time too brief too, to have all things(315)
answer my mind.
DON PEDRO:
Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing;
but I warrant thee, Claudio, the time shall not go dully by
us. I will in the interim undertake one of Hercules' labours,
which is, to bring Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice(320)
into a mountain of affection the one with the other. I would
fain have it a match, and I doubt not but to fashion it if you
three will but minister such assistance as I shall give you
direction.
LEONATO:
My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights'(325)
watchings.
CLAUDIO:
And I, my lord.
DON PEDRO:
And you too, gentle Hero?
HERO:
I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to
a good husband.(330)
DON PEDRO:
And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that
I know. Thus far can I praise him: he is of a noble strain, of
approved valour, and confirmed honesty. I will teach you
how to humour your cousin, that she shall fall in love with
Benedick; and I, [To Leonato and Claudio] with your two(335)
helps, will so practice on Benedick that, in despite of his
quick wit and his queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with
Beatrice. If we can do this Cupid is no longer an archer; his
glory shall be ours, for we are the only love-gods. Go in with
me, and I will tell you my drift.(340)

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. In this exchange Margaret pretends that she and Balthasar are participating in a formal question-and-answer interaction. This is similar to particular interactions in some church services. Here, Balthasar is placed in the role of clerk and expected to give Margaret answers. Here, the noun “clerk” means a man who is ordained to the service of the church.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  2. “Philemon’s house” is a reference to the somewhat lesser known classical myth of Philemon and Baucis. In the Roman myth, Jupiter (Jove) and Mercury come to a town and ask for a place to stay. The only people that welcome them in are a poor couple, Philemon and Baucis. They gave them all they could despite their poverty, and they were rewarded. When Jupiter and Mercury destroyed the town for not welcoming them in, they turned Philemon and Baucis’s house into a temple. Don Pedro references this myth here to tell Hero that his mask is hiding a much more attractive face, just like how Philemon’s poor house held something attractive for Jupiter.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  3. The meaning of the phrase “leading apes into hell” is highly contested. Many agree that it is a proverbial punishment for being an “old maid,” a term synonymous with “spinster,” or an unmarried woman without children. This expression represents the threat of the fate that awaits such women. The “bear-ward” is someone who keeps bears, and sometimes apes, and leads them out for public exhibition. Here, Beatrice doesn’t think the old-maid punishment applies to her, and she says she will gladly take money to lead the bear-ward’s ape into hell.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  4. Don Pedro says that although it will be difficult, he will attempt to bring Benedick and Beatrice back into “affection” with one another. Here, Shakespeare again complicates the theme of deception. Though Don Pedro’s motives may be noble, he is essentially plotting in secret once again. The characters in Much Ado About Nothing constantly meddle in the affairs of others. While such schemes are often initiated with the best intentions, they ultimately manipulate the emotions and consequent decisions of others, leading the audience to wonder whether they are really all that harmless.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. “Poniards” are small, slim daggers. The fact that Benedick is so hurt by Beatrice’s pointed criticisms indicates that he cares very much about her opinion of him. Note again the imagery of weapons and battle in these lines, further emphasizing the theme of love and courtship as warfare. In a more general sense, Benedick and Beatrice’s constant verbal sparring also resembles a war of sorts.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. A “libertine” is a free-thinker who is unrestrained by convention, tradition, and morality. Beatrice implies that only the morally depraved enjoy Benedick’s company. Note too, that Beatrice uses naval imagery here to question why Benedick has not come to play a game of wits with her. Shakespeare again compares love and wit to warfare here, a metaphor that will continue throughout the remainder of the play.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. A “usurer” is a person who lends money with interest. The term is usually used to connote someone who specifically lends money with very high rates of interest. During Elizabethan times, merchants were the main usurers, and gold chains were a fashion amongst them.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. “Hundred Merry Tales” is the title of one of Shakespeare’s book of jests, which contains comical anecdotes about foolish clergymen and unfaithful wives (among other things.)

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. Don Pedro suggests that there is a romantic element to secrecy in courtship, but pay attention to the ways in which the play illustrates that secrecy can be highly destructive. Claudio worries that his good friend Don Pedro is secretly plotting to court Hero for himself. Throughout the play, secrets lead to jealousy in general.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Don Pedro, disguised as Claudio, courts Hero, again comparing love and courtship to a masquerade. When Don Pedro says “Speak low, if you speak love,” he further relates courtship to secrecy, which is ironic because he is pretending to be Claudio and the secrets are actually being kept from Hero.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Leonato notes that Beatrice is incredibly perceptive, maybe too much so, suggesting that she often reads too much into things. Beatrice jokes that she “can see a church by daylight,” which is to say that she simply sees what should be obvious to all—her vision is not clouded by overly-romanticized notions of love and marriage. However, note that while Beatrice may be observant and scrutinizing, this character trait does not lead to much introspection regarding her own romantic affairs. She is blind to her feelings for Benedick.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. A “Scotch jig,” or “Scottish Jig,” is a type of fast-paced and lively folk dance. Here, Beatrice compares love and courtship to a dance. She divides love into various stages: it begins swiftly and excitedly, but it slows significantly after marriage before eventually meeting its end. Shakespeare thus shows the theme of love as a kind of masquerade or game. Courtship is a series of whimsical, but fleeting stages and social procedures, rather than a unique and lasting connection between individuals.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. Beatrice separates men into two categories: bearded men, who would refuse to put up with her, and beardless men, who are “boyish” and would not be able to handle her. Shakespeare thus uses beards as a symbol of masculinity. Beards (or a lack thereof) are used to characterize the men in the play as either gentle and vulnerable, or rugged and “manly.” Consider too, that Beatrice’s dislike of beards also symbolizes her resistance to men in general at this point in the play.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. During the Elizabethan era, women were not allowed to perform on the stage, so men would play the roles of both female and male characters. Typically, female characters would have been played by young men without facial hair. Thus when a young man’s beard came in, it was a sign that he was old enough to begin playing adult male roles. Since a young man would have played Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, this conversation about beards becomes an ironic indirect reference to this tradition.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. When Beatrice says that “one is too like an image and says nothing,” she means that Don John speaks too little to be a worthy suitor. Beatrice suggests that Don John is more like the “image” of a person—he expresses no opinions, and does not challenge her in the way that she wants or needs. However, she says that Benedick talks too much for her liking, concluding that the best partner would fall somewhere in between these two.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  16. Leonato suggests that Beatrice scares off potential suitors because she is very blunt and outspoken. His remark reflects the problematic societal ideology during Shakespeare’s time that women needed to be docile and “gentle” in order to attract men. Beatrice is neither of these things; she is witty, candid, and refuses to conform to these confining social expectations.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  17. Leonato is holding a masquerade ball as entertainment for his household guests. He and Beatrice converse about the men who will be there, and they discuss Beatrice’s possibly marrying a bearded, or a beardless, man. Beatrice claims that she would rather sleep with a sheep than marry a bearded man, who would be too old for her. On the other hand, she finds beardless men useless because they are “less than a man” or immature. Therefore, Beatrice believes no man is suitable for her and sarcastically states that she is ready to live up the supposed punishment for unmarried women: leading a bunch of apes into hell.

    — Jane, Owl Eyes Staff
  18. Once again, the readers witness Beatrice’s sharp tongue at work and her wittiness, which is specifically used to mock the idea of falling in love or getting married in this context. She believes that it will “grieve,” or be miserable for, a woman to be “overmaster’d” or committed to a man, who she calls a “piece of valiant dust,” or, in other words, a handful of dust. This metaphor implies that men are unreliable, and as a result, Beatrice despises the idea that women must be subservient to men.

    — Jane, Owl Eyes Staff
  19. Claudio has just been duped into believing his beloved Hero is unfaithful. He is quick to believe the lies of others; Don John and Borachio have only pretended not to recognize Claudio's disguise and lied about Hero's plans to run away with another man. "Let every eye negotiate for itself" means that people in love only act for themselves. Friendship, which is "constant in all other things," becomes irrelevant.

    — Sarah St. Albin, Owl Eyes Staff
  20. That is, her mother had a painful birth just like every other mother.

    — Stephen Holliday
  21. A subtle and clever way of establishing that Beatrice is a very good-hearted and happy person by nature.

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

    — Stephen Holliday
  23. Beatrice gets away from this awkward exchange by claiming that she speaks lightly not seriously.

    — Stephen Holliday
  24. This actually opens up an awkward moment between Beatrice and Don Pedro--she is flirting with him but also making it clear she is not interested in him.

    — Stephen Holliday
  25. In Elizabethan times, someone who is sunburnt would be considered part of the working class.  Gentlewomen try to stay as fair as possible so protect themselves from the sun.

    — Stephen Holliday
  26. To be on the "windy side of care" means to be out of care's way, or out of danger. This is a nautical allusion: the windy side is the windward side, which gives a ship enough wind to maneuver out of danger.

    — Stephen Holliday
  27. That is, I have spoken to and brokered your marriage terms with Leonato.

    — Stephen Holliday
  28. The implication is that Beatrice has been too harsh with Benedick.

    — Stephen Holliday
  29. That is, Benedick tricked Beatrice into falling in love while he was not in love with her.

    — Stephen Holliday
  30. Prester John was thought to be the son of one of the Magi who visited Jesus at his birth.  He was believed to rule a Christian kingdom somewhere in Asia or Africa.

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

    — Stephen Holliday
  32. During an archery contest, a contestant stood at the target to mark the arrows of other contestants--depending on the skill of the archers, this could be a fatal position.

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

    — Stephen Holliday
  34. That is, if, as you say, Hero will consent to marry Claudio, then you are correct (true).

    — Stephen Holliday
  35. Continuing the metaphor of birds in a nest, Don Pedro is referring to Hero and Claudio.

    — Stephen Holliday
  36. A reference to the Roman deity Fama (Rumor) who spreads news.

    — Stephen Holliday
  37. That is, you are striking at the wrong target--like a blind man would.  This is likely an allusion to an incident at the end of the Spanish novella *Lazarillo de Tormes, *published anonymously in 1554 and considered heretical and banned by the Spanish government.

    — Stephen Holliday
  38. Beatrice implies that Benedick loses his appetite if his cleverness isn't acknowledged.

    — Stephen Holliday
  39. Beatrice refers to an old and standard collection of tales and jokes, and Benedick has accused her of getting all her wittiness from this book.

    — Stephen Holliday
  40. This is a masked ball.  Don Pedro and his retainers, who include Benedick and Claudio, are with him and enter the ball already masked.  Leonato's entourage are also already masked so that, at least in theory, everyone is anonymous and can speak with more freedom than he or she would normally use.  More important, everyone is equal in this setting.

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

    — Stephen Holliday
  42. Shakespeare cleverly uses the metaphor of dancing as a comparison to courtship, marriage, and an aging husband.

    — Stephen Holliday
  43. Beatrice's father is either dead or far away. She is under the care of Leonato, her uncle.

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

    — Stephen Holliday