Much Ado About Nothing: Act 1, Scene 1 to 3 - Summary

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Act 1, Scene 1

      Much Ado About Nothing opens in Messina, Italy. Leonato, the governor of the town, is with his daughter Hero, and Beatrice, his niece. A messenger arrives, telling Leonato that Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, an old friend of the governor's, is coming back from an unnamed war. With Don Pedro is Count Claudio, a young lord from Florence. Signior Benedick of Padua is also in the group of returning soldiers.

      When Beatrice hears the name of Benedick, she mocks him and everything the messenger says about Benedick. Leonato explains that there is a war of wits between his niece and Benedick.

      The prince enters with his men and greets Leonato. Benedick and Beatrice exchange witty barbs, not wasting any time with niceties. Leonato invites the men to spend the month at his estate. As the men enter the grounds, Don John the Bastard, an illegitimate brother of the prince, appears. There is tension between Don John and Don Pedro, the prince, but Leonato invites Don John to stay with him, hoping to resolve the strained feelings between the brothers.

      Claudio mentions to Benedick that he is attracted to Hero, Leonato's daughter. Benedick makes fun of Claudio for falling in love and considering marriage. Benedick claims that marriage is to be disdained. Women are for entertainment, not love. When Don Pedro, the prince, learns that Claudio is in love, he offers to woo Hero for Claudio and then gains permission from Leonato for Hero's hand.

Act 1, Scene 2

      Leonato's brother has overheard the conversation between Don Pedro and Claudio and tells Leonato to prepare to answer the prince and agree to give Claudio Hero's hand. Leonato goes to Hero and prepares her for the proposal, telling her to accept it.

Act 1, Scene 3

      Don John, the prince's illegitimate brother, also hears of this plan. He decides to set up a deception that will wreak havoc with Claudio's intentions. Don John is jealous of Don Pedro's attention to Claudio. Don John schemes with Borachio and Conrade, two men who arrived at Leonato's place with Don John.

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