Much Ado About Nothing is a comedic play by William Shakespeare. Following true Shakespearian style, the play is split into five acts, each made up of several scenes. See below for a scene by scene synopsis of Much Ado About Nothing
After receiving word that the victorious Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, and his troops are about to arrive in Messina, court Governor Leonato prepares to welcome them. On hearing that Benedick will be amongst the party, Leonato’s niece Beatrice makes sarcastic remarks about him.
Don Pedro and his group made up of Claudio, Benedick, Balthasar and Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother Don John arrive to a warm welcome from Leonato. Benedick and Beatrice bicker, both claiming to be immune from love, meanwhile Claudio falls head over heels for Leonato’s daughter, Hero.
Don Pedro and Benedick mock Claudio after he confesses his love for Hero to them but ultimately agree to help him win her hand.
Leonato is approached by his brother, Antonio who has heard from a servant that someone is in love with Hero. Unfortunately there has been a mix up with the information which leads Leonato to think that it is Don Pedro who wishes to marry his daughter. Due to Don Pedro’s royal status, Leonato is thrilled at the thought of this union.
Don John makes it very clear he dislikes his brother, who defeated him in battle but forgave him for his disloyalty. As he is lamenting Don Pedro, Borachio enters telling Don John the news of Claudio’s intent to woo Hero. As he also dislikes Claudio, Don John vows to sabotage his efforts.
Leonato is holding a masked ball in the court of Messina, during which Claudio plans to win Hero’s heart. Before the ball, Leonato tells his daughter that he suspects Don Pedro will propose to her and urges her to accept. However her cousin, Beatrice, strongly insists she follows her own heart rather than being told what to do. Beatrice goes on to insist she is against marriage and continues to badmouth Benedick.
As the ball takes place, Don Pedro tries to make good on his vow to win Hero for Claudio however the bitter Don John interferes and suggests to Claudio that Don Pedro actually wants her for himself.
After a period of anger from Claudio, the mistake is soon cleared up by Don Pedro who has managed to get Hero to agree to marry his friend. Claudio is overjoyed and shares a kiss with his love, who he is set to wed in just a week. The scene ends as matchmaker Don Pedro sets his sights on getting Beatrice and Benedick together, enlisting the help of Claudio and Hero.
Borachio hatches a dastardly plan to ruin the Claudio and Hero’s wedding, much to the delight of Don John, who promises to reward him if he manages it. The plan is to trick Claudio into thinking that his fiancée has been unfaithful by making love to Hero’s chambermaid, Margret, visibly in Hero’s bed so that it seems it was Hero being wooed.
Don Pedro and Claudio trick Benedick into believing that Beatrice has declared her love for him, prompting him to realise he loves her.
Hero plays the same trick on Beatrice that Don Pedro and Claudio played on Benedick by tricking her into believing that Benedick confessed his feelings for her. Like Benedick, Beatrice confesses her love.
A noticeably gentler Benedick asks Leonato for Beatrice’s hand in marriage. Meanwhile, the scheming Don John warns Claudio that he must not marry Hero as she is promiscuous. In order to test her loyalty, Don Pedro suggests they hide outside her bedroom window and spy on her.
The local watch overhear a drunken Borachio bragging to Conrade about the success of his plan, with a heartbroken Claudio vowing to call off the wedding. The watchmen are simple folk who do not quite understand the importance of what they have overheard. They decide to arrest the two men anyway as they assume that they are lecherous.
Hero dresses for her wedding and talks about her wedding night with her friends. The friends then tease Beatrice for falling in love, despite her promise to remain single. The scene ends with the news that the men have arrived to take Hero to church.
The watchmen, Dogberry and Verges intercept Leonato on his way to the church to give away Hero. They tell him they have apprehended two men, but Leonato is disinterested, caring only for his daughters impending nuptials and tells the men to deal with the situation themselves.
It is Claudio and Hero’s wedding day. Claudio publically shames his bride, calling her a “rotten orange” and declaring her an adulterer. Hero denies any wrong doing and faints with grief, which Don John suggests is a sign of her guilt.
The kind priest, Friar Francis, believes Hero and decides the best course of action is to hide her, pretending she has died. He believes this will make people pity her, believing she must be innocent. Her father, Leonato, agrees to the plan.
Beatrice is distraught for her friend, believing that Claudio has seriously wronged her. She convinces her new love, Benedick that Hero is innocent and as a result he offers to fight Claudio in a dual.
As Conrade and Borachio are cross examined by the Watch and the Town Clerk, details of Don John’s dastardly plan final come to light, exposing him as the instigator of all of the trouble in court. A report is prepared and set to be delivered to Leonato.
Leonato is distraught and his brother, Antonio, seeks to comfort him by suggesting he explain to Claudio and Don Pedro that his daughter has been slandered.
Leonato and Antonio end up challenging Claudio to a dual but are reprimanded by Don Pedro who says that, whilst he is sorry Hero has died, he does not doubt her guilt.
Benedick also challenges Claudio, leading Don Pedro to assume his anger is Beatrice’s influence.
Don Pedro receives news that the apprehended men are his brother’s followers and, as Borachio and Conrade confess, the whole misunderstanding is unravelled.
Claudio, who feels his love for Hero returning now she has been proven innocent, answers to Leonato, who blames him for his daughters “death.” Instead of punishing him, Leonato claims that Claudio must instead marry “Antonio’s Daughter” – a fictional bride that the audience actually know is Hero.
Benedick and Beatrice tease one another and the news of Hero’s innocence is spread.
Claudio leaves a written note of Hero’s innocence on her supposed tomb.
The alleged bride is revealed to be Hero after all and everyone is overjoyed, especially Claudio. Benedick and Beatrice also agree to get married and the festivities are interrupted as it is announced that Don John has been captured. The courtiers decide to deal with him later and dance on.