Much Ado About Nothing

Don John Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
The bastard brother of Don Pedro, and the antagonist of the play. When the play begins, Don John has just been defeated by his brother in battle while trying to usurp him. Out of desire for revenge and a general bad attitude, Don John schemes to destroy the marriage of Hero and Claudio. He almost succeeds, but his treachery is confessed by his minions Conrade and Borachio, who have been arrested and interrogated by Dogberry and the watch. By the end of the play, he has been captured while trying to escape from Messina.

Don John Quotes in Much Ado About Nothing

The Much Ado About Nothing quotes below are all either spoken by Don John or refer to Don John. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Much Ado About Nothing published in 1995.
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

“I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain.”

Related Characters: Don John (speaker)
Page Number: 1.3.28-30
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

“Even she: Leonato’s Hero, your Hero, every man’s Hero.”

Related Characters: Don John (speaker), Claudio
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 3.2.99-100
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

“There is not chastity enough in language
Without offence to utter them.”

Related Characters: Don John (speaker)
Page Number: 4.1.102-103
Explanation and Analysis:

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Don John Character Timeline in Much Ado About Nothing

The timeline below shows where the character Don John appears in Much Ado About Nothing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
Don Pedro, Don John, Balthazar, Claudio and Benedick arrive at the house. Don Pedro apologetically jokes that Leonato is... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
The melancholy Don John has a conversation with his follower, Conrade. Conrade asks why Don John is acting so... (full context)
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
Another of Don John’s followers, Borachio, arrives to give him some news. While eavesdropping from behind an arras (a... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
Antonio, Leonato, Beatrice and Hero discuss Don John’s bad attitude, comparing him with Benedick. Beatrice says that Don John talks too little, while... (full context)
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
...that he hasn’t “boarded [her],” (come to argue with her). (2.1.143) Benedick leaves. Meanwhile, Don John and Borachio, attempting to cause mischief, approach Claudio and pretend to mistake him for Benedick.... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Language, Perception and Reality Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
Don John has heard that Claudio and Hero are going to be married. Borachio proposes a plan... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Language, Perception and Reality Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
Don John comes to tell Claudio and Don Pedro that Hero has been disloyal and is, in... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Language, Perception and Reality Theme Icon
...Borachio speaking as they shelter under a roof from the rain. Borachio brags that Don John has given him a thousand ducats for convincing Claudio and Don Pedro of Hero’s betrayal.... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
Language, Perception and Reality Theme Icon
...on the day of the wedding, intending to warn him about the treachery of Don John and Borachio. Dogberry wastes time trying to make himself look better in front of Leonato.... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
...“are our eyes our own?” (4.1.71) meaning that everything he’s said is obviously true. Don John and Don Pedro speak up in support of Claudio. Finally, Claudio accuses Hero directly. When... (full context)
Language, Perception and Reality Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
...guilt. Hero herself denies what has been said about her, and Benedick suggests that Don John might have something to do with what has happened. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Language, Perception and Reality Theme Icon
...Antonio calls this opinion childish, and advises him to get back at Don Pedro, Don John and Claudio instead. Leonato agrees, admitting he has come to believe his daughter was lied... (full context)
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
...to meet “Lord Lackbeard,” (5.1.192) later in combat. As he goes, he mentions that Don John has fled from the city, suggesting that running away probably means he is guilty of... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Courtship, Wit, and Warfare Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
...In the middle of this, Ursula arrives and tells them the good news: that Don John’s tricks have been uncovered, and Hero’s name cleared. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
Love and Masquerade Theme Icon
Language, Perception and Reality Theme Icon
Marriage, Shame and Freedom Theme Icon
...Pedro. Everyone is happy that the slanders against Hero have been discredited, and that Don John has fled from Messina. Benedick takes the opportunity to ask Leonato if he can marry... (full context)