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Much Ado About Nothing | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 3, Scene 1

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 3, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing.

Much Ado About Nothing | Act 3, Scene 1 | Summary



Hero initiates her part of the plan to make Beatrice and Benedick fall in love. She sends Margaret to tell Beatrice that Ursula and Hero are discussing her in the orchard, then instructs Ursula as to what they will say. Ursula will heap praise upon Benedick while Hero will speak of how Benedick is "sick in love with Beatrice."

Beatrice arrives at the orchard and hides. She listens as Hero tells Ursula how Claudio and Don Pedro told her Benedick loves Beatrice. They think Beatrice should know, but Hero doesn't. She thinks Beatrice will only make fun of him, as "nature never framed a woman's heart of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice." Hero further says her cousin has patience for no man, and turns them all "the wrong side out." Hero tells Ursula she intends to dissuade Benedick of his love by telling him bad—and untrue—things about Beatrice. Ursula says that isn't fair; Beatrice is far too intelligent to pass up a man as wonderful as Benedick. They remark on his good name and reputation, then move out of earshot to congratulate themselves on a job well done before leaving the orchard.

Beatrice emerges from her hiding place, slightly shocked at the negative things her cousin said of her. She vows to requite Benedick's love and let him tame her "wild heart to [his] loving hand." She ends her brief speech by saying she'll marry Benedick because others—Hero and Ursula—believe he deserves her.


The second part of Don Pedro's plan proceeds much like the first, but at a more rapid rate. This is partly because the audience has already seen how the tricksters disparage the character of the eavesdropper and extol the virtues of the supposedly lovesick. It's also partly because Beatrice is a woman eavesdropping on a conversation between two women. For the most part the jokes and insults in Much Ado About Nothing are the province of men, and Claudio, Don Pedro, and Leonato make plenty at Benedick's expense. Beatrice is usually the jokester of the group of female characters, and in this scene she is relegated to the position of listener while Hero and Ursula paint a sympathetic portrayal of lovesick Benedick. This is a more serious scene than the previous, which was highly focused on humor.

Hero and Ursula's conversation, while made in jest, gives Beatrice an unflattering glimpse of how people see her. She is startled to discover she stands "condemned for pride and scorn so much." She doesn't think of herself as being prideful and scornful of others, and when it's brought to her attention, she vows to part with her "contempt" and "maiden pride." She thinks a woman in love should have Hero's subservient personality and wants to remake herself in that mold. Beatrice's own misconceptions about what it means to be in love contradict everything Benedick likes about her in the first place.

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