Act III - Scene V

[Another Room in Leonato's House]

Enter Leonato, Constable [Dogberry] and Headborough [Verges.]

LEONATO:
What would you with me, honest neighbour?
DOGBERRY:
Marry, my lord, I would have some confidence
with you that decerns you nearly.
LEONATO:
Brief, I pray you; for you see it is a busy time with
me.(5)
DOGBERRY:
Marry, this it is, my lord.
VERGES:
Yes, in truth it is, my lord.
LEONATO:
What is it, my good friends?
DOGBERRY:
Goodman Verges, my lord, speaks a little off the
matter—an old man, my lord, and his wits are not so(10)
blunt as, God help, I would desire they were; but, in
faith, honest as the skin between his brows.
VERGES:
Yes, I thank God I am as honest as any man living
that is an old man and no honester than I.
DOGBERRY:
Comparisons are odorous. Palabras, neighbour(15)
Verges.
LEONATO:
Neighbours, you are tedious.
DOGBERRY:
It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the
poor Duke's officers; but truly, for mine own part, if I
were as tedious as a king, I could find in my heart to(20)
bestow it all of your worship.
LEONATO:
All thy tediousness on me, ah?
DOGBERRY:
Yea, in 'twere a thousand pound more than 'tis; for
I hear as good exclamation on your worship as of any
man in the city; and though I be but a poor man, I am(25)
glad to hear it.
VERGES:
And so am I.
LEONATO:
I would fain know what you have to say.
VERGES:
Marry, my lord, our watch to-night, excepting your
worship's presence, ha' ta'en a couple of as arrant knaves(30)
as any in Messina.
DOGBERRY:
A good old man, my lord; he will be talking. As
they say, ‘When the age is in, the wit is out.’ God help us!
it is a world to see! Well said, i' faith, neighbour Verges.
Well, God's a good man. An two men ride of a horse, one(35)
must ride behind. An honest soul, i' faith, my lord, by my
troth he is, as ever broke bread; but God is to be
worshipped; all men are not alike, alas, good neighbour!
LEONATO:
Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of you.
DOGBERRY:
Gifts that God gives.(40)
LEONATO:
I must leave you.
DOGBERRY:
One word, my lord. Our watch, my lord, have indeed
comprehended two aspicious persons, and we would have
them this morning examined before your worship.
LEONATO:
Take their examination yourself and bring it me. I am(45)
now in great haste, as it may appear unto you.
DOGBERRY:
It shall be suffigance.
LEONATO:
Drink some wine ere you go. Fare you well.

[Enter a Messenger.]

MESSENGER:
My lord, they stay for you to give your daughter to
her husband.(50)
LEONATO:
I'll wait upon them. I am ready.

[Exeunt Leonato and Messenger.]

DOGBERRY:
Go, good partner, go get you to Francis Seacoal; bid
him bring his pen and inkhorn to the jail. We are now to
examination these men.
VERGES:
And we must do it wisely.(55)
DOGBERRY:
We will spare for no wit, I warrant you. Here's that
shall drive some of them to a non-come. Only get the
learned writer to set down our excommunication, and
meet me at the jail.

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. “Excommunication,” the exclusion of an offending member from any religious community, is a malapropism for “communication,” a noun that means the exchanging of information.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. “Non-come,” a noun that signifies a state of bewilderment or insanity, is a malapropism for “nonplus,” a noun that means a state of perplexity or standstill.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Dogberry uses the noun “examination” rather than the verb “examine” because he is repeating Leonato’s earlier command to “take their examination.” This suggests that Dogberry does not actually know the meaning of this word.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. “Suffigance,” a made up word, is a malapropism for “sufficient,” an adjective meaning of a quantity, extent, or scope adequate to a certain purpose.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Leonato does not take Dogberry seriously because of his demonstrated lack of education and tedious social behaviors. He is “now in great haste” because Dogberry has wasted so much time with idle talk.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. “Aspicious,” a made up word, is a malapropism for either “suspicious,” an adjective meaning of questionable character, or “auspicious,” an adjective meaning ominous.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. “Comprehended,” to understand, is a malapropism for “apprehended,” a verb meaning to arrest in the name of the law. Because these malapropisms are close in sound but not meaning, they could signify that Dogberry is illiterate: he is simply repeating what he has heard.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. In this aside, Dogberry assumes that he and Leonato are in on the same joke: Verges is a simpleton who is not well educated. The irony in this joke is that to Leonato considers Dogberry to be just as simple as Verges. They are not equals laughing at the same person as Dogberry believes.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. “Exclamation,” meaning the action of crying out in pain, anger, surprise, etc., is a malapropism for “acclamation,” an expression of praise or enthusiastic approval. Shakespeare includes these malapropisms to make Dogberry a comedic character at whom the audience can laugh. However, they are also moments that can mock members of the audience: if you do not catch the malapropism, then you are as ignorant and laughable as Dogberry.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Dogberry frequently speaks in proverbs and platitudes. Although he uses these references in order to demonstrate his “wisdom,” these sayings ironically demonstrate his lack of wit and thought because he does not have his own words to express these ideas.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Dogberry misinterprets the meaning of the word “tedious,” which means long and tiresome, as wealthy. Because he misinterprets the word, he also misses Leonato’s insult. This demonstrates an educational disconnect between the rich and the poor, which Shakespeare uses to create humor.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. This exclamation by Leonato demonstrates his growing frustration with these two simpletons. This foreshadows that he will not take their information seriously when they finally get around to saying it.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. The noun “Palabras” refers to words words, especially ones spoken in an unnecessary, profuse, or idle nature. Ironically, Dogberry uses this to chide Verges for his idle comparisons during a conversation in which he uses such language with Leonato.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. “Odorous,” an adjective that means having a smell, is a malapropism for “odious,” an adjective that describes regarding with hatred.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. Dogberry’s overly polite speech inserts delay into his speech and draws out his point. Rather than directly getting to what he needs to tell Leonato, he prolongs this conversation because he does not pick up on the social cues that should show him that Leonato does not want to talk to him. This indicates his naivety in social situations.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  16. Throughout the scene, Dogberry says multiple malapropisms, or the mispronunciation or mistaken use of a word in place of the right word. These mistakes show that he is of the uneducated lower class. They give Leonato a reason to dismiss his concerns and the audience a reason to laugh at him.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  17. The title Goodman (also, yeoman) is for a man just below the level of gentlemen--think of a property and business owner or artisan (like Shakespeare's father, a glove maker) in the middle class.

    — Stephen Holliday