Much Ado About Nothing | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 1, Scene 2

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 1, Scene 2 of William Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing.

Much Ado About Nothing | Act 1, Scene 2 | Summary



Leonato's brother, Antonio, tells Leonato one of the servants overheard a conversation between Don Pedro and Claudio. In it Don Pedro declared his love for Hero; he plans to woo her and ask for her hand in marriage. Leonato is skeptical of this news and insists "we will hold it as a dream till it appear itself." Still he asks Antonio to tell Hero what's going on so she can have an answer prepared just in case the proposal comes.


It's a good thing Leonato is skeptical when he's told Don Pedro wants to marry Hero, because the eavesdropping servant has the story all wrong. The prince will not be wooing Hero for himself, but for Claudio. This is the first of several times in the play when perception doesn't match reality. Like the children's game of telephone, what is overheard is rarely the whole truth.

Leonato's wish for Hero to be prepared for the prince's proposal is also significant. Antonio isn't sent to speak to Hero so he can gauge her feelings about the prince; rather he's ensuring she will say yes to his proposal. In Elizabethan England—when and where Shakespeare wrote the play—marriages, particularly for young women of the noble class, were often arranged by parents who could secure more successful partnerships than their offspring. The choice of whom Hero will marry is not hers to make, and Leonato does not seem overly particular about whom she will marry. He wants her to marry Don Pedro when he thinks that's an option, but he's equally as happy when it turns out Claudio is the one who wants her hand in marriage. Both men are a good match for Leonato's family.

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