‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is William Shakespeare’s enduring comedy of love, imposture and high society, written in 1598 or the following year. For all its gossipy wit, however, it deals with a serious subject, a lady’s reputation.
FLUSHED with success in battle, Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, repaired to Messina in Sicily for a well-earned rest in the house of the Governor, Leonato. With him went two Italian lords, Claudio and Benedick, and his stepbrother, Don John.
Don John was envious of Claudio’s place in Don Pedro’s trust, and when his servant Borachio whispered that he had overheard Claudio sighing for the love of Hero, the Governor’s daughter, Don John saw an opportunity for ‘mischief’.
His feeble attempts to sow discord during a masked ball were frustrated when gallant Don Pedro secured Hero’s hand for Claudio. And Don Pedro went on playing Cupid, convincing Benedick that Leonato’s acid-tongued niece Beatrice, who had been teasing him mercilessly for years, was sweet on him, while Hero found a surprisingly tender place in Beatrice’s heart for Benedick too.
Romance was all around, and Claudio to be married next day; so when Don John hinted darkly that Hero might be unfaithful, Claudio could barely believe it.