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Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing is a play by William Shakespeare. Considered a comedy, it was most likely first performed in 1598/1599.

The five acts follow two pairs of lovers. Although the romance between Claudio and Hero ostensibly forms the main plot, the action is actually mostly concerned with their counterparts, Benedick and Beatrice, whose love/hate relationship develops in the course of the play.

The Plot:

Claudio and Benedick return from a successful military campaign, which they have fought in Don Pedro's company. A local lord, Leonato, welcomes them into his home. Claudio sets about winning his daughter's, Hero, hand. Benedick trades verbal thrusts with Beatrice, Hero's cousin.

Claudio and Hero become engaged quickly and they, with others, decide to pass the time until the wedding tricking Benedick and Beatrice into love with each other.

Don John, Don Pedro's estranged brother, sets about to cause mischief. He convinces both Claudio and Don Pedro that Hero is unfaithful. Claudio accuses Hero in front of her father, family and priest and refuses to marry her. Hero faints at the accusation. The friar advises that Hero be reported to have died until her name can be cleared.

Left alone in the church, Benedick and Beatrice exchange their love vows and Beatrice extracts a promise from Benedick that he kill his friend Claudio for the harm he has done. Before the duel can take place, Don John's plot is uncovered and Hero restored.

Several film versions have been made, including one by Kenneth Branagh.

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