Benedick arrives in the middle of a conversation between Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio. He is pale, melancholy, and complains of a toothache. Realizing what has happened, Don Pedro and Claudio begin to tease him for having fallen in love. They point out that he has shaved his beard, rubbed himself with civet (a form of musk or perfume), and has begun to dress differently. Claudio says that his spirit has “crept into a lute-string and [is] now governed by stops.” (3.2.59-60) They hint that some woman might also be in love with Benedick, and Claudio puns that she “dies” (3.2.67) of passion for him. Annoyed, Benedick asks to speak with Leonato in private. Don Pedro and Claudio rejoice at the success of their scheme, concluding that he must be going to ask for Beatrice’s hand.
Benedick’s sudden change in appearance goes along with the idea of love as masquerade: being in love results in a certain pose and attitude. The shaving of Benedick’s beard symbolizes the beginning of his domestication by love. We remember that Beatrice does not like men with beards. Claudio’s comparison of Benedick to a lute continues the play’s extended metaphor connecting love to music. Here, it suggests that Benedick is “played on,” like an instrument by his passion, without having any say in it. There is an innuendo in Claudio’s joke: “dies,” can also mean “has an orgasm.”
Don John comes to tell Claudio and Don Pedro that Hero has been disloyal and is, in fact, “Every man’s Hero.” (3.2.106) Refusing to say anything further, he promises that if they come with him to her window that evening, they will see her meet with one of her lovers. Horrified, Don Pedro and Claudio agree to come and witness the affair. Should it be true, Don Pedro promises to join Claudio in publicly shaming Hero at the wedding for her unfaithfulness.
The other characters use hearsay and staged conversations to accomplish their tricks. Don John, who is a man of few words, sets up a false image: Hero and her “lover,” in the window.