A room in Leonato’s house.
(Leonato; Benedick; Beatrice; Margaret; Ursula; Antonio; Friar Francis; Hero; Prince Don Pedro; Claudio; Messenger)
Friar Francis, Leonato, Antonio and Benedick reflect on what has been learned, excusing the Prince and Claudio; Benedick is glad that he will no longer have to fight Claudio. They send the ladies away with instructions to return masked when they are called for. Benedick asks Leonato for Beatrice’s hand. Don Pedro and Claudio arrive in good spirits. Claudio reaffirms his willingness to marry whichever lady is given to him, and the masked ladies enter. Before he is allowed to see her face, Claudio takes Hero by the hand and swears to marry her — and then he discovers that she is the still-living Hero. Friar Francis offers to explain everything once the marriage is over, but before they can make their way to the church, Benedick publicly asks Beatrice whether she loves him. She denies it as much as he denies loving her, while they work out that they have been set up. They decide to marry nevertheless, and Don Pedro mocks Benedick for marrying, despite all his promises, but Benedick will not rise to the bait and instead urges the Prince to marry as well. Benedick insists that they dance before getting married, though Leonato thinks it more proper to wait till after. News comes that Don John has been captured, but Benedick tells people to forget about him until the next day, and they all begin to dance. (107 lines)
Enter Leonato, Benedick, Beatrice, Margaret, Ursula, old man Antonio, Friar Francis, Hero.
Did I not tell you she was innocent?
So are the Prince and Claudio, who accus’d her
Upon the error that you heard debated.
But Margaret was in some fault for this,
Although against her will, as it appears
In the true course of all the question.
Well, I am glad that all things sorts so well.
And so am I, being else by faith enforc’d
To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.
Well, daughter, and you gentlewomen all,
Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,
And when I send for you, come hither masked.
The Prince and Claudio promis’d by this hour
To visit me. You know your office, brother:
You must be father to your brother’s daughter,
And give her to young Claudio.
Which I will do with confirm’d countenance.
Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.
To do what, signior?
To bind me, or undo me—one of them.
Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,
Your niece regards me with an eye of favor.
That eye my daughter lent her, ’tis most true.
And I do with an eye of love requite her.
The sight whereof I think you had from me,
From Claudio, and the Prince. But what’s your will?
Your answer, sir, is enigmatical,
But for my will, my will is your good will
May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin’d
In the state of honorable marriage,
In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.
My heart is with your liking.
And my help.
Here comes the Prince and Claudio.
Enter Prince Don Pedro and Claudio and two or three other.
Good morrow to this fair assembly.
Good morrow, Prince; good morrow, Claudio;
We here attend you. Are you yet determined
Today to marry with my brother’s daughter?
I’ll hold my mind were she an Ethiope.
Call her forth, brother, here’s the friar ready.
Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness?
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,
As once Europa did at lusty Jove,
When he would play the noble beast in love.
Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low,
And some such strange bull leapt your father’s cow,
And got a calf in that same noble feat
Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.
Enter Brother Antonio, Hero, Beatrice, Margaret, Ursula, the ladies masked.
For this I owe you: here comes other reck’nings.
Which is the lady I must seize upon?
This same is she, and I do give you her.
Why then she’s mine. Sweet, let me see your face.
No, that you shall not till you take her hand,
Before this friar, and swear to marry her.
Give me your hand before this holy friar—
I am your husband if you like of me.
And when I liv’d, I was your other wife,
And when you lov’d, you were my other husband.
One Hero died defil’d, but I do live,
And surely as I live, I am a maid.
The former Hero! Hero that is dead!
She died, my lord, but whiles her slander liv’d.
All this amazement can I qualify,
When after that the holy rites are ended,
I’ll tell you largely of fair Hero’s death.
Mean time let wonder seem familiar,
And to the chapel let us presently.
Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?
I answer to that name. What is your will?
Do not you love me?
Why, no, no more than reason.
Why then your uncle and the Prince and Claudio
Have been deceived. They swore you did.
Do not you love me?
Troth, no, no more than reason.
Why then my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula
Are much deceiv’d, for they did swear you did.
They swore that you were almost sick for me.
They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.
’Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?
No, truly, but in friendly recompense.
Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.
And I’ll be sworn upon’t that he loves her,
For here’s a paper written in his hand,
A halting sonnet of his own pure brain,
Fashion’d to Beatrice.
And here’s another
Writ in my cousin’s hand, stol’n from her pocket,
Containing her affection unto 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.
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.
Peace, I will stop your mouth.
How dost thou, Benedick the married man?
I’ll tell thee what, Prince: a college of wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humor. Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? No, if a man will be beaten with 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, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee, but in that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruis’d, and love my cousin.
I had well hop’d thou wouldst have denied Beatrice, that I might have cudgell’d thee out of thy single life, to make thee a double-dealer, which out of question thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look exceeding narrowly to thee.
Come, come, we are friends. Let’s have a dance ere we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts and our wives’ heels.
We’ll have dancing afterward.
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 tipp’d with horn.
My lord, your brother John is ta’en in flight,
And brought with armed men back to Messina.
Think not on him till tomorrow. I’ll devise thee brave punishments for him. Strike up, pipers.