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Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing Translation Act 2, Scene 3

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Enter BENEDICK

BENEDICK

Boy!

BENEDICK

Boy!

Enter BOY

BOY

Signior?

BOY

Sir?

BENEDICK

In my chamber window lies a book. Bring it hither to mein the orchard.

BENEDICK

In my bedroom window there is a book. Go get it and bring it to me here in the garden.

BOY

I am here already, sir.

BOY

But I am here already, sir.

BENEDICK

I know that, but I would have thee hence and here again.

BENEDICK

I know that, but I want you to go there and then come back here again.

Exit BOY

I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors tolove, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love— and such a man is Claudio. I have known when there was no music with him but the drum and the fife, and now had he rather hear the tabor and the pipe. I have known when he would have walked ten mile afoot to see a good armor, and now will he lie ten nights awake carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier, and now is he turned orthography; his words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes. May I be so converted and see with these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not. I will not be sworn but love may transform meto an oyster, but I’ll take my oath on it, till he havemade an oyster of me, he shall never make me such a fool. One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise,yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s certain; wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen her;fair, or I’ll ever look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what color it please God. Ha! The Prince and MonsieurLove! I will hide me in the arbor.

I'm amazed that a man—after seeing another man fall in love and become a fool, and laughing at that foolishness—can then become the very thing he once scorned. Claudio is such a man. I knew him back when the only music he cared for was the drums of war, but now he would rather hear the sweet, delicate music of love. I knew him when he would have walked ten miles to see a good suit of armor, but now he'll lie awake ten nights in a row thinking about a fancy new jacket. He used to speak plainly and to the point, like an honest man and a soldier. But now his speech has become a collection of pretty words, like a fantastical banquet full of strange new dishes. Could I be transformed like this, and see everything through a lover's eyes? I can't be sure, but I don't think so. I can't promise that love won't change me. But until I have really fallen in love, I'll never act like such a fool. One woman is beautiful, but I don't care. Another woman is wise, but I don't care. Another is virtuous, but I don't care. I won't pay attention to anyone until all three of these qualities come together in one woman. She must be rich, that's for sure, and wise—or else I'll have nothing to do with her. She must be virtuous, or I won't consider her; beautiful, or I won't look at her; mild-mannered, or else she shouldn't come near me; noble, or I won't have her even if she's an angel. She must be well-spoken, an excellent musician, and her hair should be whatever color God wants it to be. Ha! Here come the Prince and Mister Love! I'll hide myself in the garden alcove.

He hides

Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO, and BALTHASAR with music

DON PEDRO

Come, shall we hear this music?

DON PEDRO

Come, shall we hear some music?

CLAUDIO

Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is,As hushed on purpose to grace harmony!

CLAUDIO

Yes, my good lord. How still the evening is—as if it's purposefully being quiet to honor the music!

DON PEDRO

[aside to CLAUDIO] See you where Benedick hath hid himself?

DON PEDRO

[To CLAUDIO so that only he can hear] Do you see where Benedick is hiding?

CLAUDIO

[aside to DON PEDRO] O, very well, my lord. The music ended,We’ll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.

CLAUDIO

[To DON PEDRO so that only he can hear] Oh, very well, my lord. When the music is over, we'll give that hidden fox more than he bargained for!

DON PEDRO

Come, Balthasar, we’ll hear that song again.

DON PEDRO

Come, Balthasar, please play that song again.

BALTHASAR

O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice To slander music anymore than once.

BALTHASAR

Oh, my good lord, don't command me to insult music again with my awful voice.

DON PEDRO

It is the witness still of excellencyTo put a strange face on his own perfection.I pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.

DON PEDRO

It's a sure sign of excellence that your voice doesn't admit to its own perfection. Please, sing for us, and don't make me woo you anymore.

BALTHASAR

Because you talk of wooing, I will sing, Since many a wooer doth commence his suit To her he thinks not worthy, yet he woos, Yet will he swear he loves.

BALTHASAR

Since you talk of wooing, I'll sing. You're like a suitor who starts to court a woman he doesn't really think is worthy, but he still keeps courting her anyway, and will even swear he loves her.

DON PEDRO

Nay, pray thee, come,Or, if thou wilt hold longer argument,Do it in notes.

DON PEDRO

No, please, sing. Or if you want to keep arguing, do it through song.

BALTHASAR

Note this before my notes: There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.

BALTHASAR

But note this before I play my notes: there's not a note I can sing that's worthy of being noted.

DON PEDRO

Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks!Note notes, forsooth, and nothing.

DON PEDRO

Why, listen to him speaking his odd ideas in quarter notes! Everyone take note: we will now hear notes.

Music plays

BENEDICK

[aside] Now, divine air! Now is his soul ravished. Is it not strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out of men’s bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when all’s done.

BENEDICK

[To himself] Now that must be a divine song! Now their souls are filled with passion. Isn't it strange that strings made of sheep's guts can draw men's souls from their bodies? Well, I'd rather listen to a plain hunting horn any day, when all's said and done.

BALTHASAR

[singing] Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, Men were deceivers ever, One foot in sea and one on shore, To one thing constant never. Then sigh not so, but let them go, And be you blithe and bonny, Converting all your sounds of woe Into Hey, nonny nonny. Sing no more ditties, sing no mo Of dumps so dull and heavy. The fraud of men was ever so, Since summer first was leavy. Then sigh not so, but let them go And be you blithe and bonny, Converting all your sounds of woe Into Hey, nonny nonny.

BALTHASAR

[Singing]
Cry no more, ladies, cry no more,
Men have always been deceivers,
With one foot on a ship and one on the shore,
Never faithful to anything.
So don't cry like that, but let them go,
And be carefree and happy,
Changing all your sad songsInto "Hey, nonny nonny."
Sing no more laments, sing no more
Mournful tunes so sad and heavy.
Men have always been frauds
Since trees had leaves in summer.
So don't cry like that, but let them go,
And be carefree and happy,
Changing all your sad songs
Into "Hey, nonny nonny."

DON PEDRO

By my troth, a good song.

DON PEDRO

I swear, that's good song.

BALTHASAR

And an ill singer, my lord.

BALTHASAR

And a bad singer, my lord.

DON PEDRO

Ha, no, no, faith, thou sing’st well enough for a shift.

DON PEDRO

Ha! No, no, really, you sing well enough to to be passable.

BENEDICK

[aside] An he had been a dog that should have howled thus, they would have hanged him. And I pray God his badvoice bode no mischief. I had as lief have heard the night raven, come what plague could have come after it.

BENEDICK

[To himself] If a dog had howled like that they would have killed it. I pray to God that his bad voice isn't an omen of trouble. I would rather have heard a night raven shriek, even if it does mean the plague is coming after it, as they say.

DON PEDRO

Yea, marry, dost thou hear, Balthasar? I pray thee, get us some excellent music, for tomorrow night we wouldhave it at the Lady Hero’s chamber window

DON PEDRO

Yes, well, do you hear me, Balthasar? Please, get us some excellent music—for tomorrow night we want to serenade Lady Hero at her bedroom window.

BALTHASAR

The best I can, my lord.

BALTHASAR

I'll do the best I can, my lord.

DON PEDRO

Do so. Farewell.

DON PEDRO

Do so. Farewell.

Exit BALTHASAR

Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me of today, that your niece Beatrice was in love with Signor Benedick?

Come here, Leonato. What was it you told me today—that your niece Beatrice was in love with Sir Benedick?

CLAUDIO

Oh, ay. [aside to DON PEDRO] Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits.—I did never think that lady would have loved any man.

CLAUDIO

Oh, yes. 

[To DON PEDRO so that only he can hear] Tread carefully: our prey is nearby.

[Speaking louder so that all can hear] Yes, and I never thought that that lady would ever love any man.

LEONATO

No, nor I neither, but most wonderful that she should so dote on Signor Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.

LEONATO

No, I didn't either. And it's especially amazing that she should fall in love with Sir Benedick, whom she's always seemed to hate, judging from all her outward behavior.

BENEDICK

[aside] Is ’t possible? Sits the wind in that corner?

BENEDICK

[To himself] Is it possible? Is that the way the wind is blowing now?

LEONATO

By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it, but that she loves him with an enraged affection, itis past the infinite of thought.

LEONATO

Truly, my lord, I don't know what to think about it. But she loves him with such a wild passion that it's past all the boundaries of understanding.

DON PEDRO

May be she doth but counterfeit.

DON PEDRO

Maybe she's only pretending.

CLAUDIO

Faith, like enough.

CLAUDIO

Yes, that seems more likely.

LEONATO

O God! Counterfeit? There was never counterfeit of passion came so near the life of passion as she discovers it.

LEONATO

Oh God! Pretending? Then pretend passion has never seemed so much like real passion, at least the way she displays it.

DON PEDRO

Why, what effects of passion shows she?

DON PEDRO

Why, what symptoms of love has she been showing?

CLAUDIO

[aside to LEONATO] Bait the hook well; this fish will bite.

CLAUDIO

[To LEONATO so that only he can hear] Bait the hook well; this fish is about to bite.

LEONATO

What effects, my lord? She will sit you—you heard my daughter tell you how.

LEONATO

What symptoms, my lord? You know, she will sit—but you heard my daughter tell you about it.

CLAUDIO

She did indeed.

CLAUDIO

She did indeed.

DON PEDRO

How, how I pray you? You amaze me. I would have thought her spirit had been invincible against all assaults of affection.

DON PEDRO

How, how? Please tell! You amaze me. I would have thought that her spirit would be invincible against any sudden attack of love.

LEONATO

I would have sworn it had, my lord, especially against Benedick.

LEONATO

I would have sworn that too, my lord—and especially against such an attack of love for Benedick.

BENEDICK

[Aside] I should think this a gull but that the white-bearded fellow speaks it. Knavery cannot, sure, hide himself in such reverence.

BENEDICK

[To himself] I would think this was a joke if the white-bearded fellow weren't saying it. Mischief surely can't hide itself in such a respectable old man.

CLAUDIO

[aside to DON PEDRO] He hath ta'en th' infection. Hold it up.

CLAUDIO

[To DON PEDRO so that only he can hear] He's taken the bait. Keep it up.

DON PEDRO

Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?

DON PEDRO

Has she revealed her feelings to Benedick?

LEONATO

No, and swears she never will. That’s her torment.

LEONATO

No, and she swears she never will. That's what's been tormenting her.

CLAUDIO

'Tis true indeed, so your daughter says. “Shall I,” says she, “that have so oft encountered him with scorn, write to him that I love him?”

CLAUDIO

That's the truth. Hero says so. Beatrice asks herself, "How can I write to him that I love him, when I've always treated him so scornfully?"

LEONATO

This says she now when she is beginning to write to him, for she’ll be up twenty times a night, and there will she sit in her smock till she have writ a sheet of paper. My daughter tells us all.

LEONATO

She says this when she's starting to write to him. And she's been getting up twenty times a night, sitting there in her nightgown until she's written a single page. My daughter told us everything.

CLAUDIO

Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your daughter told.

CLAUDIO

Now that you speak of a page of paper, I remember a funny story Hero told.

LEONATO

Oh, when she had writ it and was reading it over, she found “Benedick” and “Beatrice” between the sheet?

LEONATO

Oh, you mean when Beatrice had written the letter and Hero was reading it over, and saw that it had "Benedick" and "Beatrice" written all over the page?

CLAUDIO

That.

CLAUDIO

That was it.

LEONATO

O, she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence, railed at herself that she should be so immodest to write to one that she knew would flout her. “I measure him,” says she, “by my own spirit, for I should flout him if he writ to me, yea, though I love him, I should.”

LEONATO

Oh, Beatrice tore that letter into a thousand pieces, and got angry at herself for being so forward as to write to a man she knew would mock her. She said, "I can predict his response by comparing him to myself. For I would mock him if he wrote me a letter like this. Yes, even though I love him, I still would mock him!"

CLAUDIO

Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses: “O sweet Benedick! God give me patience!”

CLAUDIO

Then she fell down on her knees and wept, sobbed, beat at her chest, tore her hair, prayed, and cursed: "Oh, sweet Benedick! God give me patience!"

LEONATO

She doth indeed, my daughter says so, and the ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my daughter is sometime afeared she will do a desperate outrage to herself. It is very true.

LEONATO

She did indeed; my daughter said so. And Beatrice is so overcome with passion that my daughter worries that she might do something violent to herself. It's true.

DON PEDRO

It were good that Benedick knew of it by some other, ifshe will not discover it.

DON PEDRO

If Beatrice won't tell Benedick, then it would be good if someone else let him know.

CLAUDIO

To what end? He would make but a sport of it and torment the poor lady worse.

CLAUDIO

What purpose would that serve? He would just turn it into a joke and torment the poor lady even more.

DON PEDRO

An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She’s an excellent sweet lady, and, out of all suspicion, she is virtuous.

DON PEDRO

If he does that, it would be a good deed to hang him. She's an excellent, sweet lady, and there's no doubt that she's virtuous.

CLAUDIO

And she is exceeding wise.

CLAUDIO

And she is exceptionally wise.

DON PEDRO

In every thing but in loving Benedick.

DON PEDRO

In everything except for her love for Benedick.

LEONATO

Oh, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, beingher uncle and her guardian.

LEONATO

Oh, my lord, when wisdom and emotion are at war within a tender young person, it's ten to one that emotion will be victorious. I am sorry for her, as I ought to be, being both her uncle and her guardian.

DON PEDRO

I would she had bestowed this dotage on me. I would have daffed all other respects and made her half myself.I pray you tell Benedick of it and hear what he will say.

DON PEDRO

I wish she had bestowed her love on me instead. I would have put aside all other considerations and made her my wife. Please, tell Benedick about this and hear what he says.

LEONATO

Were it good, think you?

LEONATO

Do you think that would be a good idea?

CLAUDIO

Hero thinks surely she will die, for she says she will die if he love her not, and she will die ere she make her love known, and she will die if he woo her rather than she will bate one breath of her accustomed crossness.

CLAUDIO

Hero thinks that Beatrice will surely die. For she says she'll die if Benedick doesn't love her; and she'll die before she tells him she loves him; and she'll die if he courts her too, rather than hold back even a breath of her usual mockery.

DON PEDRO

She doth well. If she should make tender of her love, ’tis very possible he’ll scorn it, for the man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.

DON PEDRO

She's right. If she made him an offer of love, it's very possible that he'll scorn it—for that man has a contemptuous nature, as we all know.

CLAUDIO

He is a very proper man.

CLAUDIO

He is a very handsome man, though.

DON PEDRO

He hath indeed a good outward happiness.

DON PEDRO

He does indeed have a good outward appearance.

CLAUDIO

Before God, and in my mind, very wise.

CLAUDIO

And I'll swear to God that he's very wise.

DON PEDRO

He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.

DON PEDRO

He does indeed show some sparks of something like wisdom.

CLAUDIO

And I take him to be valiant.

CLAUDIO

And he seems very brave.

DON PEDRO

As Hector, I assure you, and in the managing of quarrels you may say he is wise, for either he avoids them with great discretion or undertakes them with a most Christian-like fear.

DON PEDRO

Brave as Hector, I assure you . And you could also say that he's wise in managing quarrels, for he either avoids them discreetly, or else accepts them with proper Christian humility.

LEONATO

If he do fear God, he must necessarily keep peace. If he break the peace, he ought to enter into a quarrel with fear and trembling.

LEONATO

If he's a God-fearing man, then he must necessarily keep the peace as best he can. And if he breaks the peace, then he ought to enter into a quarrel with appropriate fear and trembling.

DON PEDRO

And so will he do, for the man doth fear God, howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests he will make. Well, I am sorry for your niece. Shall we go seek Benedick and tell him of her love?

DON PEDRO

And so he will, for he is indeed a God-fearing man, even though some of his rude jokes make him seem otherwise. Well, I am sorry for your niece. Should we go find Benedick and tell him of her love?

CLAUDIO

Never tell him, my lord, let her wear it out with good counsel.

CLAUDIO

Don't tell him, my lord. Let her get over her feelings through self-reflection and good advice.

LEONATO

Nay, that’s impossible. She may wear her heart out first.

LEONATO

No, that's impossible. Her heart might give out first.

DON PEDRO

Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter. Let it cool the while. I love Benedick well, and I could wish he would modestly examine himself to see how much he is unworthy so good a lady.

DON PEDRO

Well, we'll hear more about this from your daughter. Let's leave it for a while. I am fond of Benedick, and I wish he would examine himself humbly and see how undeserving he is of that good lady.

LEONATO

My lord, will you walk? Dinner is ready.

LEONATO

My lord, will you go? Dinner is ready.

CLAUDIO

[aside to DON PEDRO and LEONATO] If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never trust my expectation.

CLAUDIO

[To DON PEDRO and LEONATO so that only they can hear] If he doesn't fall in love with her after this, I'll never trust myself again.

DON PEDRO

[aside to LEONATO] Let there be the same net spread forher, and that must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry. The sport will be when they hold one an opinion of another’s dotage, and no such matter. That’s the scene that I would see, which will be merely a dumb show. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.

DON PEDRO

[To LEONATO so that only he can hear] Make sure your daughter and her servants set the same trap for Beatrice. The real fun will be when they each believe the other is in love, when none of it is actually true. That's the scene I want to watch—it will be like some silent performance, since neither will have anything to say without their usual insults! Let's send Beatrice to call Benedick in to dinner.

Exeunt DON PEDRO,CLAUDIO, and LEONATO

BENEDICK

[coming forward] This can be no trick. The conference was sadly borne; they have the truth of this from Hero; they seem to pity the lady. It seems her affections have their full bent. Love me? Why, it must be requited! I hear how I am censured. They sy I will bear myself proudly if I perceive the love come from her. They say, too, that she will rather die than give any sign of affection. I did never think to marry. I must not seem proud. Happy are they that hear their detractions and can put them to mending. They say the lady is fair; ’tisa truth, I can bear them witness. And virtuous; ’tis so, I cannot reprove it. And wise, but for loving me; bymy troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her! I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me because I have railed so long against marriage, but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humor? No! The world must be peopled. When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live tillI were married. Here comes Beatrice. By this day, she’sa fair lady. I do spy some marks of love in her.

BENEDICK

[Coming forward] This can't be a trick. Their discussion was serious, and they had Hero's words to back them up. They seem to pity the lady. It seems that her passion is stretched to the limit. She loves me? Why, her love must be returned! I hear how I am criticized. They say I will be arrogant if I find out about her love. They also say that she'd rather die than show any sign of affection. I never thought I would marry. I must not be too proud to change my ways. Only fortunate people can hear their own faults criticized and then go about fixing them. They say the lady is beautiful—it's true, I've witnessed it myself. And virtuous—it's so, I can't deny it. And wise, except for loving me—well, that might not be any great indication of her intelligence, but it won't be a sign of foolishness either, for I will be horribly in love with her! Some of my witty remarks about marriage might be thrown back at me here and there, but don't tastes change? In his youth, a man can love a dish that he can't stand in his old age. Will sarcastic remarks, old sayings, and verbal ammunition from books keep a man from pursuing his desire? No! The world must be populated. When I said I would die a bachelor, I didn't think that I would live long enough to get married. Here comes Beatrice. By God, she's a beautiful lady. I think I see some signs of love in her.

Enter BEATRICE

BEATRICE

Against my will, I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.

BEATRICE

I've been sent against my will to tell you to come in to dinner.

BENEDICK

Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.

BENEDICK

Fair Beatrice, I thank you for making the effort to do that for me.

BEATRICE

I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me. If it had been painful, I would not have come.

BEATRICE

I made no more effort in doing this task for your thanks than you made an effort in thanking me for it. If it had been a hard task, I wouldn't have come.

BENEDICK

You take pleasure then in the message?

BENEDICK

So you took pleasure in delivering the message then?

BEATRICE

Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s point and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach, Signior. Fare you well.

BEATRICE

Yes, just as much pleasure as choking a bird with a knife. So you have no appetite for our battle of wits, sir? Farewell then.

Exit

BENEDICK

Ha! “Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.” There’s a double meaning in that. “I took nomore pains for those thanks than you took pains to thank me.” That’s as much as to say, “Any pains that I take for you is as easy as thanks.” If I do not take pity of her, I am a villain. If I do not love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture.

BENEDICK

Ha! "I've been sent against my will to tell you to come in to dinner." There's a double meaning in that. "I made no more effort in doing this task for your thanks than you made an effort in thanking me for it." That's as much as to say, "Any effort I make for you is as easy as saying 'thank you.'" If I don't take pity on her, I'm a villain. If I don't love her, I'm totally hard-hearted. I'll go get a picture of her.

Exit

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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.