Act III - Scene IV

[A Room in Leonato's House]

[Enter Hero, Margaret, and Ursula.]

HERO:
Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice and desire her to
rise.
URSULA:
I will, lady.
HERO:
And bid her come hither.
URSULA:
Well.(5)

[Exit.]

MARGARET:
Troth, I think your other rebato were better.
HERO:
No, pray thee, good Meg, I'll wear this.
MARGARET:
By my troth, is not so good; and I warrant your
cousin will say so.
HERO:
My cousin 's a fool, and thou art another. I'll wear none but(10)
this.
MARGARET:
I like the new tire within excellently, if the hair
were a thought browner; and your gown's a most rare fashion,
i' faith. I saw the Duchess of Milan's gown that they
praise so.(15)
HERO:
O, that exceeds, they say.
MARGARET:
By my troth's but a nightgown in respect of yours—
cloth-o'-gold and cuts, and laced with silver, set with pearls
down sleeves, side-sleeves, and skirts, round underborne
with a blush tinsel. But for a fine, quaint, graceful, and(20)
excellent fashion, yours is worth ten on't.
HERO:
God give me joy to wear it! for my heart is exceeding
heavy.
MARGARET:
'Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a man.
HERO:
Fie upon thee! art not ashamed?(25)
MARGARET:
Of what, lady? of speaking honourably? Is not
marriage honourable in a beggar? Is not your lord
honourable without marriage? I think you would have me
say, ‘saving your reverence, a husband.’ An bad thinking
do not wrest true speaking, I'll offend nobody. Is there(30)
any harm in ‘the heavier for a husband’? None, I think, an
it be the right husband and the right wife. Otherwise 'tis
light, and not heavy. Ask my Lady Beatrice else. Here
she comes.

[Enter Beatrice.]

HERO:
Good morrow, coz.(35)
BEATRICE:
Good morrow, sweet Hero.
HERO:
Why, how now? Do you speak in the sick tune?
BEATRICE:
I am out of all other tune, methinks.
MARGARET:
Clap's into ‘Light o’ love.' That goes without a burden.
Do you sing it, and I'll dance it.(40)
BEATRICE:
Ye, ‘Light o’ love' with your heels! then, if your husband
have stables enough, you'll see he shall lack no
barns.
MARGARET:
O illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my
heels.(45)
BEATRICE:
'Tis almost five o'clock, cousin; 'tis time you were
ready. By my troth, I am exceeding ill. Heigh-ho!
MARGARET:
For a hawk, a horse, or a husband?
BEATRICE:
For the letter that begins them all, H.
MARGARET:
Well, an you be not turned Turk, there's no more(50)
sailing by the star.
BEATRICE:
What means the fool, trow?
MARGARET:
Nothing I; but God send every one their heart's
desire!
HERO:
These gloves the count sent me, they are an excellent(55)
perfume.
BEATRICE:
I am stuffed, cousin; I cannot smell.
MARGARET:
A maid, and stuffed! There's goodly catching of cold.
BEATRICE:
O, God help me! God help me! How long have you
professed apprehension?(60)
MARGARET:
Ever since you left it. Doth not my wit become me
rarely?
BEATRICE:
It is not seen enough. You should wear it in your cap.
By my troth, I am sick.
MARGARET:
Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus(65)
and lay it on your heart. It is the only thing for a qualm.
HERO:
There thou prickest her with a thistle.
BEATRICE:
Benedictus? Why Benedictus? You have some moral in
this Benedictus?
MARGARET:
Moral? No, by my troth, I have no moral meaning; I(70)
meant, plain holy thistle. You may think perchance that I
think you are in love. Nay, by'r lady, I am not such a fool to
think what I list; nor I list not to think what I can; nor
indeed I cannot think, if I would think my heart out of
thinking, that you are in love, or that you will be in love, or(75)
that you can be in love. Yet Benedick was such another, and
now is he become a man. He swore he would never marry;
and yet now, in despite of his heart, he eats his meat without
grudging; and how you may be converted I know not, but
methinks you look with your eyes as other women do.(80)
BEATRICE:
What pace is this that thy tongue keeps?
MARGARET:
Not a false gallop.

[Enter Ursula.]

URSULA:
Madam, withdraw. The prince, the count, Signior
Benedick, Don John, and all the gallants of the town are
come to fetch you to church.(85)
HERO:
Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good Ursula.

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. Beatrice is essentially saying that Margaret is “light o’ love,” as in “frivolous in love.” Beatrice suggests that if Margaret were to get married to a man of wealth, she would let him lie with her often, because their children would be provided for.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. “Light o’ love” is the name of an old dance tune. During Shakespeare’s time, “Light o’ love” was also used as an expression for the inconstant nature of love, or specifically as a noun to describe a woman who was fickle with love.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. This line is a double entendre, meaning that it is open to two interpretations. On the one hand, Margaret is making a comical innuendo that after marriage Hero will lie with her husband: "his weight will literally make her heart heavier." However, we can also read this figuratively. In the Renaissance, passionate love was often described as a kind of disease. Margaret’s line thus suggests that Hero’s marriage to Claudio could bring with it a sadness that would make her heart feel even heavier.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. That is, Benedick has changed his mind [about women] and is like other men.

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

    — Stephen Holliday
  6. Margaret takes this opportunity to make another play on words: Carduus Benedictus, a medicinal herb, is also known as holy thistle, but she also refers to Benedict as the cure for Beatrice's ailment.

    — Stephen Holliday
  7. A play on the pronunciation of H, which is aitch but Beatrice pretends that it is ache.

    — Stephen Holliday
  8. Margaret has interpreted Beatrice's "Heigh-ho" as an expression of anticipation.

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

    — Stephen Holliday
  10. That is, trimmed at the bottom with bluish-tinted silver thread.

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

    — Stephen Holliday
  12. rebato is a stiff collar that usually supports a wide ruffled collar.

    — Stephen Holliday