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Act 5 Much Ado About Nothing English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 4638 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Act 5 Scene 1 begins as Leonato is grieving the supposed loss of his daughter’s chastity. Antonio tries to console his brother, but his efforts prove fruitless as Leonato refuses to be comforted. He says repeatedly that only someone who has been through the turmoil that he has is able to know how he feels. He also says that anyone can preach that one should be patient when unhappy but no one can do what he says to others, lines 27 – 30 ” `tis all men’s office to speak patience…but no man’s virtue…to be so moral, when he shall endure the like himself”. Antonio plainly tells him that he is behaving like a child and that he should make those who hurt him, hurt as well and to this Leonato agrees.

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Coincidentally, Don Pedro and Claudio enter just as he has finished speaking. It can be noted that neither Leonato nor Antonio greet the younger men, but the former immediately launches into his accusations. This shows that he is immensely serious about what he declares. Tensions run high in this part of the scene, since everyone is shouting and charges and denials are thrown back and forth between the two pairs.

Leonato believes that Claudio made a motion to reach for his sword, lines 53 – 54, “nay, never lay thy hand on thy sword, I fear thee not.”, and he goes on to challenge Claudio to a duel, but Claudio merely laughs at him, and Don Pedro calls him an old man, line 72 “you say not right old man.”. Antonio then picks up for Leonato and challenges Claudio so fiercely that even Leonato is surprised. Antonio calls Claudio a boy and says he is less of a man (lines 80 – 84).

After that, though, Don Pedro says he will hear no more of their allegations and so Leonato and Antonio leave to find someone else who will listen to them. As they leave, Benedick appears as he wants to speak with Claudio seriously. But neither Don Pedro nor Claudio take him serious, but joke about and tease him while Bendick tries to get them to listen to him to no avail.

Benedick challenges Claudio to a duel because of his villainy but Claudio laughs at him again calling him stupid by referring to two dishes that symbolize stupidity, lines 143 – 145, “bid me to a calf’s head and capon…a woodcock too.”.

Don Pedro then brings up a conversation that happened between Beatrice and himself, when she criticizes Benedick’s wit by saying he is a slow, foolish old man who does not say what he means. This is significant because he is trying to drive home the point of Beatrice loving him and so that Benedick will want to marry her.

Claudio and Don Pedro also bring up Benedick sentiments toward marriage from the opening scene in the play when he said that he would never get married. Benedick then gets upset and leaves them by telling them that they gossip like old women and are stupid while doing so. Lines 167 – 168 “I will leave you now to your gossip-like humour : you break jests as braggards do their blades…” He also discloses to Don Pedro that his brother had ran away and then leaves angrily.

Dogberry and Verges enter with prisoners Conrade and Borachio. Dogberry gives a repetitive and confused account of the charges brought against them. But Borachio soberly confesses to the scheme to destroy Hero’s honor without mentioning Don John’s involvement. Claudio is almost unable to speak. Dogberry is concerned only that he was called an ass.

Leonato and Antonio then return with the sexton to see the true conspirators. Claudio and Don Pedro try to see the true conspirators. Claudio and Don Pedro try to make amends with Leonato and Leonato bestows a light sentence on Claudio, imploring him to mourn his daughter’s ‘death’ and then marry his niece.

Analysis of Literary Devices

Line 5: “As water in a sieve.” This simile is used by Leonato to say that this is water Antonio’s works are in his ears. Antonio’s words will offer him no comfort and he cannot be consoled.

Line 17: “Patch grief with proverbs.” The metaphor is used to show that Leonato will find not comfort in words telling him to be patient and long suffering since it is not human nature to be that way.

Lines 118-180: Don Pedro, Benedick and Claudio pun with the word “wit” many times during their conversation. At first Claudio want Benedick to entertain him with his wit or humour. But Benedick is in no mood to do so and compares it to a sword at his side in the holder, line 121 “It is in my scabbard, shall I draw it?” Claudio counters and calls him insane, lines 123-124 “…. Many have been beside their wit…”

Later after Claudio takes Benedick’s challenge as a joke, the latter calls him slow in thinking, line 146 ” sir your wit ambles well, it goes easily.” The use of puns shows the different interpretations of Benedick’s feelings in the scene.

Line 172:” Lord Beckford” Benedick calls Claudio a baby face as he leaves their company. Benedick insult his manliness by making fun out of Claudio’s not having a beard.

Analysis of Dramatis Personae

Leonato: In act 5 scene 1, Leonato comes across at first as a grief stricken man morning the loss of his daughter’s reputation so we are able to see a more human aspect of his personality where he is not sucking up to Don Pedro and Claudio. He shows his love for his daughter as he is so grieved because of what happened to her and is willing to go to any length to correct the wrongs which were done to her. He takes initiative to challenge Claudio, even though he is a close friend of Don Pedro. Leonato shows a strong personality in the end of this scene, when he lashes out at both Don Pedro and Claudio using his biting sarcasm to criticize their treatment of his daughter.

Antonio: He shows much loyalty in this scene since he is the only one there to comfort his brother in his time of need. Antonio also shows his love for Hero, since he challenges Claudio after Leonato was done, and one might even go so far as to say that he better the challenge that Leonato brought forth. Antonio is incredibly supportive of Leonato since he also is there to find the sexton to bring out the truth of his daughter’s virginity. He never leaves his brother’s side during the whole scene and so this adds to the point of his supportiveness.

Claudio: He is seen as an incredibly naïve and immature character in this scene. Claudio, as Leonato is quarrelling with him about his part in the dishonor of Hero, laughs at him and does not take him seriously at all. Claudio does not realize when Benedick, his friend is being serious in his accusations either. He laughs and makes jokes about him with Don Pedro instead of asking what was wrong with him. In the end, when Borachio confesses, he shows a bit of humanity when he seems to break down over the truth. We see that he feels like he had drunken poison and he seems actually sorrowful for his part in the crisis and this is shown when he submits himself to the punishment of Leonato.

Analysis of Themes

Loyalty and Trust

In the beginning of the scene, Antonio shows his loyalty to Leonato by being the only one to comfort him in his time of great need. Then, as Leonato is confronting and challenging Claudio, Antonio supports him and goes as far as to challenge Claudio himself. Antonio laid his life on the line to help his brother.

Claudio and Don Pedro are not loyal at all to Benedick. He is angry, very angry and his ‘friends’ are unable to pick up on it. They cannot realize how serious he actually is. Don Pedro is actually realize because he asks “…he looks pale, art thou sick, or angry?” (lines 125 – 126) Claudio, however, is completely ignorant of the fact that he is serious. He is not a loyal friend.

We can also say that Benedick is loyal to Beatrice because he confronts Claudio as she asks. Borachio can also be seen as loyal to Don John because he does not ever say his name. When he was asked of his accomplices, he says “Yea, even I alone.” (line 231). Even as Leonato drills him, he never utters Don John’s name.


In scene 1 in the fifth act, two persons are thought of as villains. Claudio was called a villain by Benedick as well as Leonato and Antonio. He is seen as a villain because he causes Hero to ‘die’, a social death at least. He is the one that denied her at the altar and so now all Hero’s defenders want his head.

Borachio and Conrade are villains because they plotted against Hero to harm her reputation. But they were working under the orders of Don John, their master. They had their part in what happened, but they were not working off their own will, so they should not be seen as the true villains.


The theme deception was brought out in the play Act five Scene one, In the Cambridge edition line 255 the theme was identified. “Be yet my nephew: my brother hath a daughter, almost the copy of my child that’s dead, and she alone is heir to both of us ,give her the right you should have given her cousin, and so dies my revenge.” This quote was said by Leonato who in fact knew that his daughter was not dead but he probably wanted revenge as well as to prove his daughter’s innocence after she was publicly embarrassed.

In scene four the deception continues at the wedding of Claudio and the supposed “niece” of Leonato. In line 55 when Claudio said “why then she’s mine, sweet let me see your face” Leonato instantly objected saying “no that you shall not, till you take her hand, before this friar, and swear to marry.” This further went to show how Leonato tricked Claudio into believing that Hero had died.

Hero’s death was symbolic as it showed how she was embarrassed and resurrected to a new and fresh start as a maiden who could now redeem herself – “Hero: One Hero died defiled, but I do live , and surely as I live, I am a maid.”

Hero’s “resurrection” could also be linked to a biblical allusion in which Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected in another life.

Act 5, Scene 2

Summary and analysis

In the beginning of Act 5, scene 2 of the novel “Much ado about Nothing” Benedick speaks with Margaret, giving her sweet talk so that she may help him to write a speech to Beatrice. This is evident in lines 1-3, “pray the….by helping me to the speech of Beatrice” In Elizabethan era; men were considered both soldiers and poets. However Benedick was not a poet but yet he tried to write a poem for Beatrice which proves to what extent he will go because of his love for her. Both Benedick and Maragret exchange words at each other as to compare there wittiness. However Benedick seems to give up as he says in line 17 -16, “I give thee the bucklers: that is, I give up (in this wit combat) and the word bucklers are small shields used in sword fighting. It is as if Benedick is giving up his main defense to surrender to Margaret. Benedick then asks Margaret to call Beatrice for him. Margaret then exit to do so.

Benedick then sings a song which portrays his love to Beatrice. This symbolizes just how much he loves Beatrice. Even the words of the song show how strongly he feels about her as if he is asking “The God of love to be pitiful towards him because he deserves love even though he portrays a witty hyperbole to express his feelings. Beatrice then comes into the Orchard and both of them begin to torment each other but with affection and insults that are not really insults but words of affection as this is how their love is shown to each other. Benedick then explains to Beatrice that he will go on with the challenge with Claudio and if he doesn’t hear anything from Claudio will be known as a coward. This also shows how deeply in love but also how loyal his love is to Beatrice as he would challenge his own friend. He then asks, “Which of my bad past didst thou first fall in love with me? And then Beatrice follows with, “which of my good parts did you suffer love for me? Here you will realize that one highlights the bad and the other the good as if their portraying “Ying and Yang” but also has a whole because yin and yang can not live without each other and they create balance. Therefore this symbolizes both Beatrice and Benedick as they will get to know each other in due time and create balance. Beatrice speaks of “suffer love” to highlight the fact that they love each other a lot and to show how much their love has meaning and no limit as they have so much love for each other it is as if they feel it hurting but in a good way. Beatrice also highlights it to compare love and pain to say that their love is like pain.

Benedick then says to Beatrice, “Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably”. He wishes to show that they both will never be at peace because they are too much alike as their personalities are similar and they are too wise to do so as their love will mature in due time. Also it can mean that Benedick is trying to say that no matter what he does she will never be satisfied, therefore he would have to come with something of strong significance to woo a person like Beatrice. Being that he had a chance before and he did not woo her in the way she wanted. Ursula then runs into the Orchard to tell Beatrice and Benedick of the news that Hero was falsely accused and that the Prince of Aragon and Claudio were deceived and that Don John is the one who bares all responsibility. Ursula’s entrance was of perfect timing but it seems as if her entrance hindered a never ending argument Benedick and Beatrice, and who knows what would have happened. Beatrice then asks Benedick to come with her to thy uncles house (Leonato), he answers, “I will live in they heart, dies in thy lap and be buried in thy eye” And moreover I will go with thee to thy uncle’s” In these lines Benedick portrays a sexual innuendo as the idea of “dying in thy lap” is referred to as a sexual orgasm. Benedick and Beatrice then follow Ursula to the Governor’s house, Leonato.

Analysis of Literary devices found in Act 5, scene 2

There are many figurative devices used in Act five, scene two of the novel. Below are the main devices and the significance of each.


“And yours as blunt as the fencer’s foils, which hit but hurt not.” (Lines13-14) Margaret uses simile to compare Benedick’s wit to a practice sword that is blunt with a dull tip and its hits people, no doubt, but does not hurt them and by doing so she tries to prove that she has a stronger wit than Benedick. Another example of simile is: “Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s mouth; it catches.”(Lines11-12) However in this case Benedick is trying to overpower Margaret.


“Give us swords: we have bucklers of our own.”(Lines 18-19) Margaret uses this symbolism to identify the sword and the bucklers. The bucklers she claims that women have of their own and need no man to give them any. This symbolizes strength and independence. The sword however, she says, that they are to get as they are not to be underestimated as women as they too can be brave. In these lines she wishes to empower women to Benedick and also to feel somewhat more than men, therefore showing her strong wittiness.

Aural imagery/Symbolism

The God of Love

That sits above,

And knows me, and knows me,

How pitiful I deserve__ (Lines 26-29)

The writer uses aural imagery to appeal to the reader’s sense. It gives the reader a sense of understanding and it gives the reader a sense of communication as if they are the ones singing. By doing so, the reader has a sense of how much in love, Benedick is to Beatrice. Symbolism is also used, as the song symbolizes the love that Benedick has for Beatrice, to a point where he is asking The God of Love for a sense of sympathy because he deserves love.


“Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome.” (Lines 52-53) Beatrice uses alliteration to specifically highlight the word, “Foul”. According to Dictionary.com foul means grossly offensive to the senses; disgustingly loathsome; noisome: a foul smell. What Beatrice is saying is that if you speak foul words in your mouth, then your breath must be foul, and breath that is foul is sickening. Therefore she will leave without being kissed. Also she wishes to express that if he does not please her by dueling Claudio then he will not be able to give her a kiss. As when Benedick had his first chance he did not prove himself worthy to her and therefore she wishes him to please her, not with foul words but words that would convince her and then he will get a kiss.


“Suffer love for me?”(Line 65) Beatrice uses metaphor to highlight the fact that they love each other a lot and to show how much their love has meaning and no limit and to show that love and suffer are but one, as a whole. As to love someone you have to suffer but when you avoid suffering your avoiding love. Therefore one can not do without the other. Beatrice also highlights it to compare love and pain to say that their love is like pain. According to Woody Allen an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright, “To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.”

Analysis of the main Dramatist personae in Act 5, scene 2

The dramatist personae in Scene 2, Act 5, Margaret, Ursula, Beatrice and Benedick display similar behaviors. However each persona gives off a different impression by their use of words and actions.

Beatrice is the niece of the Governor of Messina, Leonato. In this scene she portrays herself as being witty, sharp and not to mention her aggressive attitude. She brings out this when she encounters Benedick in scene 2 when they both share their wittiness and affectionate insults. Benedick, a gentleman from Padua illustrates his witty hyperbole attitude as he encounters Beatrice in the scene. He uses metaphor and simile to show his wittiness and to show how strong it is towards to Beatrice. His sentences give a sense of an aggressive attitude; however that is how he showed his love to Beatrice. Margaret also shows wittiness when she is around Benedick at the beginning of scene 2 of Act 5. She is very feisty and sharp but she doesn’t mean it. However she shows a sense of competition in her lines as she never gives up when Benedick gives and insult.

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Theme Analysis of Act 5, scene 2

In Act 5, scene 2 there are 2 main themes brought about, “Male/Female relationship” and “Love & Marriage relationship.” The theme, Male/female relationship is brought about between Margaret & Benedick and Beatrice & Benedick. Beatrice displays proper manners in that she listens then speak when spoken to. However she presents herself as very witty and sharp as she as if she has no respect for men. However Margaret shares some what the same view as she empowers women as strong and independent during her conversation with Benedick (“Give us swords: we have bucklers of our own.” lines 18-19). This theme then starts to develop more as both Beatrice and Margaret have a “witty war” with Benedick. . Benedick and Beatrice have opposite views of their sex, one not wanting to be controlled by a man and the other a woman. Therefore the opposite views highlights the never ending war of wittiness, however they both come to terms by putting there differences aside and to show there affection to each other when they want to.

The theme, “Love and Marriage” is also brought about in this scene as Beatrice show love foe each other. They do so through the exchange of aggressive words that may seem like insults but are not insults to them, but words of affection that express their maturing love. However a sense of marriage is also shown as the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick seems to be maturing, as if they are taking a higher step in the relationship. Also they display some what a tolerance for each other, as they know each other very well, well enough to be married.

Act 5, Scene 4

Summary and analysis

This is the resolution of the play where Hero’s name is finally cleared and she can finally come out of hiding which is only fair. A plan is devised by Leonato to hide Hero’s true identity and present her as a bride to young Claudio, another deception. He intends for her identity to only be revealed after the vows have taken and everything is finalized. Leonato commands the women to leave in a rather abrupt fashion which reminds us that this is how women are treated in the time that play was written.

After the women have left to prepare for the arrival of Claudio and Don Pedro, Benedick entreats the Friar and Leonato into approving and hosting the wedding between Beatrice and himself. Note however that he hasn’t actually proposed to Beatrice yet. This proves that he was willing to take rejection and shame in order to acquire Beatrice’s love.

In this scene Beatrice and Benedick’s true feelings came to light with the aid of their friends and so their troublesome yet amusing arguments were finally put to rest… or more likely ensured to continue until death do they part. Of course knowing Benedick the affair is sealed with a very abrupt and romantic kiss after which he is mocked by Don Pedro. In a rather spirited response to the insult he shows how serious and changed he is to accept and even partake in marriage. Marriage, the very thing he thought made fools of men. Benedick seems to have a rather aggressive tone towards Don Pedro and Claudio, which I suspect is a direct result of the way they treated him in Scene 3 where they didn’t take him or his challenge seriously.

With both couples deciding to have private weddings the perfect news to complete the mood arrived. Karma finally made its long awaited debut in the form of news that Don John has been arrested and is being brought back to Messina. Leonato is definitely the alpha male in the beginning of the scene. He seems to take a backseat after Benedick begins his so called proposal. During the proposal despite Claudio and Benedick’s seemingly impatience with each other, Claudio helps to force out Benedick’s real feelings. Which Hero also does for Beatrice, this shows that they are both excellent friends.

The scene and play ends with the dramatis personae dancing and exiting the stage. The scene is an appropriate because it provides a happy and complete ending for all dramatis personae. Leonato finally gets to see his daughter married, Hero and Claudio get to marry each other and live “Happily ever after”, Beatrice and Benedick get to irritate and insult one another on a daily basis, and Don John receives his reward for his actions. All in all the play is ended very well and leaves the viewers or readers fulfilled.

Analysis of Literary devices in Act 5, scene 4

Scene 4 Act 5 is filled with figurative devices below are some examples.


“Bull Jove sir…. Have just his bleat” (lines 47~51)

Benedick uses this to eloquently insult Claudio’s heritage and father in the same breath. It is a very upsetting insult as he calls Claudio a bastard child which means that his father was a cuckold, which is one of the worst insults a man can receive both back then and in present day society.


“So full of frost… beast in love” (lines 42~47)

Claudio and Don Pedro team up to mock Benedick by calling him a sacrificial cuckold and to mention how nervous he must look.


“And all… rejoice at thee” (line 45)

This is a gross exaggeration as there is no possible way that a whole continent would rejoice at any mere wedding between a low ranking Lord and some Governor’s daughter.


“‘Tis no such matter… love me?” (line 81)

This is the response Benedick gives to Beatrice’s questions complete opposite of what he actually feels. They both go on with their denials for quite some time and it is obvious to everyone that they are being untruthful.


“I think he…. Savage bull”(line 43)

Claudio is comparing Beatrice to a savage bull here. A complete and total insult, although not unfounded.


“Dost thou… or an epigram?” (lines 101~102)

Benedick asks a rhetorical question here to emphasize exactly how much he is determined to go through with the marriage.


“Soft and fair…recompense” (lines 72~83)

Here Beatrice and Benedick are wittily exchanging remarks to one another and are doing what in their minds must be flirting. The two are still reluctant to reveal their emotions in this section.

Theme Analysis of Act 5, scene 4

The themes present in this scene in the play are love, deception, trust, secrecy, forgiveness, karma and pride.

Love is presented in the form of Beatrice and Benedick, more so in the latter than in the former however seeing as they had a more realistic relationship even though their love is masked by walls of pride.

Deception is present in this scene because of the way that Claudio is presented with his new bride who is in fact his old bride Hero. It is also a double deception because Claudio had thought that she had died.

Trust manifests itself in the form of Hero who decides to believe that Claudio will take her hand and treat her well this time around. It also shows itself in her father and friends who despite the fiasco at the earlier wedding are willing to believe the young suitor.

Secrecy shows itself where Leonato make a reference to the plot that he, Don Pedro and Claudio had taken part in earlier in the play that is the plot where they helped spur on Benedick’s feelings.

Forgiveness is displayed by Leonato, Antonio, Hero, Benedick, Beatrice and everyone else who were upset about the false accusations of Claudio and Don Pedro.

Pride is in abundance in this scene in the forms of Beatrice and Benedick. The two refused to reveal their true feelings to one another and are forced to confess by their friends who have proof of their love. They finally accept one another with many harsh words.

Karma is brought into play by the messenger who brings the news of Don John’s fate. He has been captured but the play leaves his actual punishments are left for the people to discuss afterwards.


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