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Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Much Ado About Nothing: Act 5, Scene 4

           MARGARET, URSULA, old man [ANTONIO,]
           FRIAR [FRANCIS], HERO.

  1   Did I not tell you she was innocent?

  2   So are the prince and Claudio, who accused her
3. Upon: because of. debated: publicly discussed.
  3   Upon the error that you heard debated:
  4   But Margaret was in some fault for this,
5. against her will: unintentionally.
6. question: investigation, judicial examination.
  5   Although against her will, as it appears
  6   In the true course of all the question.

7. sort: turn out.
  7   Well, I am glad that all things sort so well.

8. faith: i.e., by his pledge to Beatrice.
  8   And so am I, being else by faith enforced
  9   To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.

 10   Well, daughter, and you gentle-women all,
 11   Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,
 12   And when I send for you, come hither mask'd.
 13   The prince and Claudio promised by this hour
14. office: function, role.
 14   To visit me. You know your office, brother:
 15   You must be father to your brother's daughter
 16   And give her to young Claudio.

           Exeunt Ladies.

17. confirm'd: grave, steadfast. —Antonio is promising that nothing in his face will give away the secret that the woman who is to wed Claudio is really Hero.
 17   Which I will do with confirm'd countenance.

 18   Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.

 19   To do what, signior?

20. To bind me, or undo me, one of them: i.e., to bind me in the knot of marriage, which may be my undoing. —Benedick puns on the other meaning of "undo," which is "unbind."
 20   To bind me, or undo me, one of them.
 21   Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,
 22   Your niece regards me with an eye of favour.

 23   That eye my daughter lent her: 'tis most true.

 24   And I do with an eye of love requite her.

 25   The sight whereof I think you had from me,
 26   From Claudio and the prince: but what's your will?

 27   Your answer, sir, is enigmatical:
 28   But, for my will, my will is your good will
 29   May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin'd
 30   In the state of honorable marriage:
 31   In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.

32. My heart is with your liking: i.e., I thoroughly approve of your desire (to marry Beatrice).
 32   My heart is with your liking.

 32                                                 And my help.
 33   Here comes the prince and Claudio.

           Enter Prince [DON PEDRO] and CLAUDIO,
           and two or three others.

 34   Good morrow to this fair assembly.

 35   Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio:
36. yet: still.
 36   We here attend you. Are you yet determined
 37   Today to marry with my brother's daughter?

38. I'll hold my mind, were she an Ethiope: i.e., I'll stick to my promise, no matter what she looks likes. —"Ethiope" was a term for any black person, and black was considered to be the opposite of fair, beautiful.
 38   I'll hold my mind, were she an Ethiope.

 39   Call her forth, brother; here's the friar ready.

           [Exit Antonio.]

 40   Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what's the matter,
 41   That you have such a February face,
 42   So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?

43. savage bull: —Another reference to Benedick's claim that the saying, "In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke," does not apply to him, since he will never marry. See 1.1.260-268. 45. Europa: Europe. 46. Europa: a Phoenician princess whom Jove, in the form of a white bull, carried off from her native land through the sea and to the island of Crete.
 43   I think he thinks upon the savage bull.
 44   Tush, fear not, man; we'll tip thy horns with gold
 45   And all Europa shall rejoice at thee,
 46   As once Europa did at lusty Jove,
 47   When he would play the noble beast in love.

48. low: cow's moo.
 48   Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low;
49. leap'd: mounted, impregnated.
 49   And some such strange bull leap'd your father's cow,
 50   And got a calf in that same noble feat
 51   Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.

           Enter Brother [ANTONIO], HERO, BEATRICE,
           MARGARET, URSULA, [the ladies masked].

52. owe you: will repay you later. —Claudio says that later he will answer Benedick's jest about his "bleat" with a jest of his own against Benedick. other reckonings: other accounts (that I must settle first).
 52   For this I owe you: here comes other reckonings.
 53   Which is the lady I must seize upon?

 54   This same is she, and I do give you her.

 55   Why, then she's mine. Sweet, let me see your face.

 56   No, that you shall not, till you take her hand
 57   Before this friar and swear to marry her.

 58   Give me your hand: before this holy friar,
59. like of: care for, like, are willing to take.
 59   I am your husband, if you like of me.

      HERO [Unmasking.]
 60   And when I lived, I was your other wife:
 61   And when you loved, you were my other husband.

 62   Another Hero!

 62                       Nothing certainer:
63. defiled: disgraced, slandered.
 63   One Hero died defiled, but I do live,
64. maid: virgin.
 64   And surely as I live, I am a maid.

 65   The former Hero! Hero that is dead!

 66   She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived.

67. qualify: moderate, calm down.
 67   All this amazement can I qualify:
 68   When after that the holy rites are ended,
69. largely: fully, in detail.
 69   I'll tell you largely of fair Hero's death:
70. let wonder seem familiar: accept these amazing events as natural, ordinary matters. 71. to the chapel let us presently: let us immediately go to the chapel (for the wedding).
 70   Meantime let wonder seem familiar,
 71   And to the chapel let us presently.

 72   Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?

      BEATRICE [Unmasking.]
 73   I answer to that name. What is your will?

 74   Do not you love me?

 74                               Why, no; no more than reason.

 75   Why, then your uncle and the prince and Claudio
 76   Have been deceived; they swore you did.

 77   Do not you love me?

 77                               Troth, no; no more than reason.

 78   Why, then my cousin Margaret and Ursula
 79   Are much deceived; for they did swear you did.

 80   They swore that you were almost sick for me.

 81   They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.

 82   'Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?

 83   No, truly, but in friendly recompense.

 84   Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.

 85   And I'll be sworn upon't that he loves her;
 86   For here's a paper written in his hand,
87. halting: stumbling. —Benedick's verse does not flow smoothly. of his own pure brain: purely his own.
 87   A halting sonnet of his own pure brain,
 88   Fashion'd to Beatrice.

 88                                       And here's another
 89   Writ in my cousin's hand, stolen from her pocket,
 90   Containing her affection unto Benedick.

91-92. here's our own hands against our hearts: i.e., here is the testimony, written by our own hands, that our hearts are guilty of love for each other.
 91   A miracle! here's our own hands against our
 92   hearts. Come, I will have thee; but, by this
 93   light, I take thee for pity.

 94   I would not deny you; but, by this good day,
 95   I yield upon great persuasion; and partly to
96-97. were in a comsumption: were the victim of a disease that was making you waste away to nothing.
 96   save your life, for I was told you were in a
 97   consumption.

 98   Peace! I will stop your mouth.

           [Kissing her.]

 99   How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?

100. college: large company.
100   I'll tell thee what, prince; a college of
101. wit-crackers: jokesters, wiseacres.
101   wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humor.
102   Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram?
103-104. if a man will be beaten with brains, 'a shall wear nothing handsome about him: i.e., if a man will allow himself to be cowed by witticisms he'll always be schmuck. >>>
103   No: if a man will be beaten with brains, a' shall
104   wear nothing handsome about him. In brief,
105   since I do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to
106   any purpose that the world can say against it; and
107   therefore never flout at me for what I have said
108. giddy: fickle, changeable.
108   against it; for man is a giddy thing, and this is my
109   conclusion. For thy part, Claudio, I did think
110   to have beaten thee, but in that thou art like to be
111   my kinsman, live unbruised and love my cousin.

112   I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice,
113   that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single
114-115. double-dealer: (1) man who breaks his word. —Benedick had vowed to never marry. (2) deceiver, unfaithful husband.  out of question: without doubt. 116. narrowly: closely.
114   life, to make thee a double-dealer; which, out of
115   question, thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look
116   exceedingly narrowly to thee.

117   Come, come, we are friends: let's have a dance ere
118   we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts
119   and our wives' heels.

120   We'll have dancing afterward.

121. First, of my word: i.e., I say we dance first!
121   First, of my word; therefore play, music. Prince,
122   thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee a wife:
123. reverend: honorable. 123-124. tipped with horn: Any mention of "horn" in Shakespeare is an allusion to the idea that cuckolds sprouted horns from their heads.
123   there is no staff more reverend than one tipped
124   with horn.

           Enter MESSENGER.

125   My lord, your brother John is ta'en in flight,
126   And brought with armed men back to Messina.

127   Think not on him till tomorrow:
128. I'll devise thee brave punishments for him: for your sake, I'll devise suitable and notable punishments for him [Don John].
128   I'll devise thee brave punishments for him.
129   Strike up, pipers.