Act V - Scene IV

[A Room in Leonato's House]

[Enter Leonato, Benedick, Beatrice, Margaret, Ursula, Antonio, Friar Francis and Hero.]

FRIAR:
Did I not tell you she was innocent?
LEONATO:
So are the prince and Claudio, who accused her
Upon the error that you heard debated.
But Margaret was in some fault for this,
Although against her will, as it appears(5)
In the true course of all the question.
ANTONIO:
Well, I am glad that all things sort so well.
BENEDICK:
And so am I, being else by faith enforced
To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.
LEONATO:
Well, daughter, and you gentlewomen all,(10)
Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,
And when I send for you, come hither masked.

                                                                    [Exeunt Ladies.]

The prince and Claudio promised by this hour
To visit me. You know your office, brother:
You must be father to your brother's daughter,(15)
And give her to young Claudio.
ANTONIO:
Which I will do with confirmed countenance.
BENEDICK:
Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.
FRIAR:
To do what, signior?
BENEDICK:
To bind me, or undo me—one of them.(20)
Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,
Your niece regards me with an eye of favour.
LEONATO:
That eye my daughter lent her. 'Tis most true.
BENEDICK:
And I do with an eye of love requite her.
LEONATO:
The sight whereof I think you had from me,(25)
From Claudio, and the prince; but what's your will?
BENEDICK:
Your answer, my lord, is enigmatical;
But, for my will, my will is, your good will
May stand with ours, this day to be conjoined
In the state of honourable marriage;(30)
In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.
LEONATO:
My heart is with your liking.
FRIAR:
And my help. Here comes the prince and Claudio.

[Enter Prince Don Pedro and Claudio with attendants.]

DON PEDRO:
Good morrow to this fair assembly.
LEONATO:
Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio.(35)
We here attend you. Are you yet determined
To-day to marry with my brother's daughter?
CLAUDIO:
I'll hold my mind, were she an Ethiope.
LEONATO:
Call her forth, brother. Here's the friar ready.

[Exit Antonio.]

DON PEDRO:
Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what's the matter(40)
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness?
CLAUDIO:
I think he thinks upon the savage bull.
Tush, fear not, man! We'll tip thy horns with gold,
And all Europa shall rejoice at thee,(45)
As once Europa did at lusty Jove
When he would play the noble beast in love.
BENEDICK:
Bull Jove, my lord, had an amiable low,
And some such strange bull leaped your father's cow
And got a calf in that same noble feat.(50)
Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.
CLAUDIO:
For this I owe you.
Here comes other reckonings. Which is the lady I must
seize upon?

[Enter Leonato's brother, Antonio, Hero, Beatrice, Margaret, Ursula, the ladies wearing masks.]

ANTONIO:
This same is she, and I do give you her.(55)
CLAUDIO:
Why then, she's mine. Sweet, let me see your face.
LEONATO:
No, that you shall not till you take her hand
Before this friar and swear to marry her.
CLAUDIO:
Give me your hand before this holy friar. I am your
husband if you like of me.(60)
HERO:
And when I lived I was your other wife; [Unmasks.]
And when you loved you were my other husband.
CLAUDIO:
Another Hero!
HERO:
Nothing certainer.
One Hero died defiled; but I do live,(65)
And surely as I live, I am a maid.
DON PEDRO:
The former Hero! Hero that is dead!
LEONATO:
She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived.
FRIAR:
All this amazement can I qualify,
When, after that the holy rites are ended,(70)
I'll tell you largely of fair Hero's death.
Meantime let wonder seem familiar,
And to the chapel let us presently.
BENEDICK:
Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?
BEATRICE:
[Unmasks.] I answer to that name. What is your will?(75)
BENEDICK:
Do not you love me?
BEATRICE:
Why, no; no more than reason.
BENEDICK:
Why, then your uncle, and the prince, and Claudio
Have been deceived; for they swore you did.
BEATRICE:
Do not you love me?(80)
BENEDICK:
Troth, no; no more than reason.
BEATRICE:
Why, then my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula Are much
deceived; for they did swear you did.
BENEDICK:
They swore that you were almost sick for me.
BEATRICE:
They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.(85)
BENEDICK:
'Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?
BEATRICE:
No, truly, but in friendly recompense.
LEONATO:
Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.
CLAUDIO:
And I'll be sworn upon't that he loves her;
For here's a paper written in his hand,(90)
A halting sonnet of his own pure brain,
Fashioned to Beatrice.
HERO:
And here's another,
Writ in my cousin's hand, stolen from her pocket,
Containing her affection unto Benedick.(95)
BENEDICK:
A miracle! Here's our own hands against our hearts.
Come, I will have thee; but, by this light, I take thee for pity.
BEATRICE:
I would not deny you; but, by this good day, I yield
upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life, for I was
told you were in a consumption.(100)
BENEDICK:
Peace! I will stop your mouth.

[Kisses her.]

DON PEDRO:
How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?
BENEDICK:
I'll tell thee what, prince; a college of wit-crackers cannot
flout me out of my humour. Dost thou think I care for a
satire or an epigram? No. If a man will be beaten with(105)
brains, 'a shall wear nothing handsome about him. In brief,
since I do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any
purpose that the world can say against it; and therefore
never flout at me for what I have said against it; for man
is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion. For thy part,(110)
Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but in that thou
art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised, and love my
cousin.
CLAUDIO:
I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied
Beatrice, that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single(115)
life, to make thee a double-dealer, which out of question
thou wilt be if my cousin do not look exceeding
narrowly to thee.
BENEDICK:
Come, come, we are friends. Let's have a dance ere
we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts and(120)
our wives' heels.
LEONATO:
We'll have dancing afterward.
BENEDICK:
First, of my word! Therefore play, music. Prince,
thou art sad. Get thee a wife, get thee a wife! There is no
staff more reverent than one tipped with horn.(125)
[Enter Messenger.]
MESSENGER:
My lord, your brother Don John is taken in flight,
And brought with armed men back to Messina.
BENEDICK:
Think not on him till tomorrow. I'll devise thee
brave punishments for him. Strike up, pipers!

Dance. [Exeunt.]

Footnotes

  1. Despite the happy ending, the play ends in this strange moment of uncertainty. Don Jon has fled and is returning with an army of men, presumably to take his revenge on these characters. Though the play ends happily it also hints at future drama or strife for these characters. Strife the audience will never see because we are at the end of the play.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Notice that at the end, Beatrice and Benedick are brought together through their writing instead of their banter. Remember Benedick found it impossible to write a sonnet at the beginning of this Act. This suggests that the sonnet Beatrice reads is not well done; ironically, their worst language allows them to be wedded.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. “Maid” in this context means virgin. In order to rid herself of slander, Hero died a metaphorical death. This marriage to Claudio marks her rebirth as a chaste wife to a nobleman.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. This line serves as a type of meta commentary on the play itself. Benedick remarks on how well things ended up to signal to the audience that they have arrived at the happy ending. This also acts as a moment of comedy that reveals the playwright’s hand in manufacturing this ending: “all things” and “so well” are hyperbolic expressions that express Benedick’s apparent surprise that everything was able to resolve.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Though Benedick is in love with Beatrice and soon to be married, he again jokes about marriage, saying that he is still unsure about whether or not marriage will prove to be his downfall. Shakespeare here makes Benedick seem like a more realistic character. Benedick has been critical of marriage throughout the entire play, and his opinions would not simply vanish altogether once he fell in love if he were a real person.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. Leonato suggests that Benedick and Beatrice perceive one another a certain way because they have been “given eyes” by the other characters in the play. This underscores the theme of perception and reality, because their romance has ultimately blossomed because of a clever ruse. This again suggests that our eyes are “not [our] own,” in answer to Claudio’s question in Act IV, scene i. Our perceptions and consequent decisions are influenced by those around us.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. A great example of the rhetorical device called zeugma ("yoking")--Shakespeare uses the verb lighten to govern two vastly different nouns--hearts and heels, one spiritual, the other, physical.  Zeugma, when well done as this example is, grabs the reader's attention.*

    — Stephen Holliday
  8. That is, and do not make fun of me for the things I have said against marriage.

    — Stephen Holliday
  9. That is, if a man will allow himself to be swayed by certain arguments, he will never be surrounded by something beautiful [in this case, a wife].

    — Stephen Holliday
  10. That is, a large group of witty men are not going to get me to change my mind [about getting married].

    — Stephen Holliday
  11. That is, don't tell me that you are actually going to be a married man.

    — Stephen Holliday
  12. That is, here is our own written testimony that confirms the love our hearts feel.

    — Stephen Holliday
  13. That is, I feel the same friendship for you that you do for me.

    — Stephen Holliday
  14. That is, here are the consequences of my earlier actions (refusing to marry Hero because of her supposed infidelity).

    — Stephen Holliday
  15. Europa, a Phoenician princess, was carried off by Zeus (Jove) in the form of a white bull.

    — Stephen Holliday
  16. This is the second reference to something Benedick said early in the play to the effect that he, like a savage bull, would never be tamed by marriage.  Claudio is subtly reminding Benedick of his former conviction that he would never marry.

    — Stephen Holliday
  17. That is, "my mind is made up (to marry) even if she were a black woman from Ethiopia."

    To modern readers, this, of course, is racist.  In Elizabethan England (and later, unfortunately), blacks were considered inferior.

    — Stephen Holliday
  18. Benedick is asking for Leonato's permission to marry Beatrice, who is Leonato's niece and ward.

    — Stephen Holliday
  19. Benedick is still unsure of how he and marriage are going to get along, so he phrases marriage in the terms of a paradox--it will either bind me to Beatrice  or it will completely ruin me.

    — Stephen Holliday
  20. That is, with a determined facial expression--the point is that Antonio must not let his facial expression give away the trick that they are playing on Claudio and Don Pedro.

    — Stephen Holliday
  21. Antonio, who is Hero's uncle, must pretend that he is giving away his daughter, but he is, in fact, giving away his niece, Hero, as if he were her father.

    — Stephen Holliday