Much Ado About Nothing Act 2 Summary

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

What's up with Act 2 of William Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing'? How do everyone's devious plans from Act 1 turn out? To find out, take a look at the lesson, and be prepared for some good old-fashioned scandal.


If you have ever been caught up in someone else's ridiculous drama, you might recognize some of the actions in Act 2 of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Let's take a look at who said what, who manipulated who and what everyone plans to do about it.

Let's Get the Party Started

In Act 2, Scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice and her family are chatting about the dinner party they just had. Beatrice notes that Don John was there, and so unpleasant, it gave her heartburn. Antonio tells her that she is never going to get married if she talks about people like that. Beatrice responds that not having a husband is a blessing. She also comments, ''Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a piece of valiant dust?'' Beatrice is saying that men are nothing but dust, and who would want to be ruled by a piece of dust?

The Party

Everyone enters the dance area, and Don Pedro chats with Hero. Since it is a masked party, Hero is not supposed to recognize Don Pedro, but she knows it is him because her father told her to expect a marriage offer from Don Pedro. This scene switches from couple to couple, and we get snippets of their conversations. Most of the conversations center around trying to figure out who is behind the mask.

Benedick and Beatrice

Benedick and Beatrice (who are constantly picking on each other) are chatting. Neither is supposed to know who is behind the mask. Benedick tells Beatrice that he heard she is rude and that her jokes are lame. Beatrice comments that the only person who would say that is Benedick. Benedick acts like he doesn't know who that is, and Beatrice tells him that he is the prince's dumb jester.

Don John Tricks Claudio

This part gets a little messy because of the masked identities, but let's break it down. Don John plans to ruin Claudio's plan of marrying Hero. When Don John recognizes Claudio (despite his mask), he wanders over and says, ''Oh, you must be Benedick.'' Claudio plays along and pretends to be Benedick. At this point, Don John tells him that Don Pedro is planning to take Hero for himself. Don John knows this will upset Claudio. Claudio believes the story and thinks that since Hero is so wonderful, of course Don Pedro would want her. He says ''farewell'' to the idea of being with her.

Benedick comes over to Claudio and pretty much says ''told you so,'' since Benedick previously told Claudio that women are evil. Claudio tells him to buzz off, and when he doesn't, Claudio storms away. Left by himself, Benedick wonders if there is any truth to Beatrice's mean comments about how he is the prince's fool. He decides that it is not the truth and that Beatrice is just mean. He vows to get revenge on her.

Don Pedro finds Claudio to tell him that he has convinced Hero to marry Claudio. He is surprised and overjoyed by the good news. Don Pedro, feeling confident in his match-making abilities, tells Beatrice that he could find her a husband. She jokes that she likes Don Pedro. When he buys it, she tells him that she is too much of a joker for him, and he tells her that he likes her that way. When she walks away, Don Pedro, Hero and Claudio decide they will make a plan to help Beatrice get a husband.

Don John Revamps His Plans

Act 2, Scene 2 finds Don John upset that his attempt to foil the romance between Hero and Claudio has failed. He speaks with Borachio who agrees to lie, manipulate and do what it takes to stop the marriage between Claudio and Hero. Borachio tells Don John to tells his brother, Don Pedro, that Claudio should not go out with someone as ''contaminated'' and ''stale'' as Hero. Don John agrees to do this.

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