A line-by-line translation

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing Translation Act 1, Scene 3

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Enter DON JOHN and CONRAD

CONRAD

What the goodyear, my lord, why are you thus out of measure sad?

CONRAD

Honestly, my lord, why are you so excessively sad?

DON JOHN

There is no measure in the occasion that breeds. Therefore the sadness is without limit.

DON JOHN

There is no measure to the things that cause my sadnes. Therefore, the sadness itself is limitless.

CONRAD

You should hear reason.

CONRAD

You should listen to reason.

DON JOHN

And when I have heard it, what blessing brings it?

DON JOHN

And when I've heard it, how will reason reward me?

CONRAD

If not a present remedy, at least a patient sufferance.

CONRAD

If reason won't immediately cure your suffering, then at least reason will give you the patience to endure it.

DON JOHN

I wonder that thou, being, as thou sayst thou art, born under Saturn, goest about to apply a moral medicineto a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I am. I must be sad when I have cause and smile at no man’s jests, eat when I have stomach and wait for no man’s leisure, sleep when I am drowsy and tend on no man’s business, laugh when I am merry and claw no man in his humor.

DON JOHN

I'm surprised that you—being such a gloomy man yourself—go about trying to cure a deadly disease with platitudes. I cannot hide who I am. I'll be sad when I have reason to be, and won't smile at any man's jokes. I'll eat when I'm hungry, and won't wait for any man's convenience. I'll sleep when I'm tired, and won't wake up for any man's business. I'll laugh when I'm happy, and won't flatter a man or humor him.

CONRAD

Yea, but you must not make the full show of this till you may do it without controlment. You have of late stood out against your brother, and he hath ta'en you newly into his grace, where it is impossible you should take true root but by the fair weather that you make yourself. It is needful that you frame the season for your own harvest.

CONRAD

Yes, but you shouldn't act this way until you can do it without restraint or fear of endangering yourself. You rebelled against your brother, and he has only recently forgiven you and returned you to his favor. You won't stay there unless you further establish yourself in his good graces. You need to use this time to benefit yourself.

DON JOHN

I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace, and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any. In this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking. In the meantime, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.

DON JOHN

I'd rather be a weed in a hedge than a rose in my brother's garden. And it suits my mood better to be hated by all than to put on an act and trick someone into loving me. I cannot be called a flattering, virtuous man, but you can't deny that at least I'm honest and straightforward about being a scoundrel. My brother trusts me like he trusts a muzzled dog, and gives me all the freedom of a horse with a block chained to its foot. If I had my mouth free, I would bite. If I had my liberty, I would do as I please. In the meantime, let me be who I am, and don't try to change me.

CONRAD

Can you make no use of your discontent?

CONRAD

Can't you put your unhappiness to some use?

DON JOHN

I make all use of it, for I use it only. Who comes here?

DON JOHN

I already make the most possible use of it, because it's the only thing I use. Who's that coming?

Enter BORACHIO

What news, Borachio?

What's the news, Borachio?

BORACHIO

I came yonder from a great supper. The Prince your brother is royally entertained by Leonato, and I can give you intelligence of an intended marriage.

BORACHIO

I just came from a great feast. Leonato is giving your brother, the Prince, entertainment fit for royalty. And I can give you some information about an intended marriage.

DON JOHN

Will it serve for any model to build mischief on? What is he for a fool that betroths himself to unquietness?

DON JOHN

Can I use this information to cause trouble? Who is this fool who wants the constant hassle of marriage?

BORACHIO

Marry, it is your brother’s right hand.

BORACHIO

Well, it's your brother's right-hand man.

DON JOHN

Who? The most exquisite Claudio?

DON JOHN

Who? The amazing Claudio?

BORACHIO

Even he.

BORACHIO

That's the one.

DON JOHN

A proper squire. And who, and who? Which way looks he?

DON JOHN

A handsome young man. And who's the girl? Who's caught his eye?

BORACHIO

Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.

BORACHIO

Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.

DON JOHN

A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?

DON JOHN

A precocious young thing! How did you come to hear this?

BORACHIO

Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was smoking a musty room, comes me the Prince and Claudio, hand in hand, in sad conference. I whipped me behind the arras, and there heard it agreed upon that the Prince should woo Hero for himself, and having obtained her, give her to Count Claudio.

BORACHIO

I was hired to perfume Leonato's house. While I was burning incense in one musty room, the Prince and Claudio came in, hand in hand, in the middle of a serious conversation. I hid myself behind a tapestry, and from there I heard them agree that the Prince would court Hero, and once he won her over, he would give her to Count Claudio.

DON JOHN

Come, come, let us thither. This may prove food to my displeasure. That young start-up hath all the glory of my overthrow. If I can cross him any way, I bless myself every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?

DON JOHN

Come, come, let's go to the feast. This might be just the food I need to cure my unhappiness. That young upstart Claudio has gained honor and glory through my defeat. If I can injure him in any way, I'll rejoice. You'll both stay loyal and help me, won't you?

CONRAD

To the death, my lord.

CONRAD

Until death, my lord.

DON JOHN

Let us to the great supper. Their cheer is the greater that I am subdued. Would the cook were o' my mind! Shallwe go prove what’s to be done?

DON JOHN

Then let's go to this great feast. They're all so happy because I have been defeated. If only the cook thought like me—then he could have poisoned their food! Now, should we go discover what must be done?

BORACHIO

We’ll wait upon your lordship.

BORACHIO

We'll accompany your Lordship.

Exeunt

Much ado about nothing
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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.