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Characters: Much Ado about Nothing

 

Don Pedro: The visiting prince of Aragon and longtime friend of many in Messina, Don Pedro is a resourceful young man who likes action and entertainment. He is a half-brother of Don John and close companion of Claudio and Benedick.
Don John: The illegitimate half-brother of Don Pedro, Don John has recently fought with his more powerful and more noble brother, but they have reached an uneasy reconciliation. He is a malcontent and a villain; however, compared with Shakespeare’s other dark characters, Don John is a mild and rather ineffective villain. Borachio does his thinking for him. His machinations are regarded, like many other parts of the play, as amounting to nothing.
Claudio: A young man from Florence, Claudio is a dear friend of Don Pedro and Benedick and quickly falls in love and is betrothed to Hero. In the beginning of the play, he is a weak and rather ineffective character, though he shows some growth before the end of the play. Still, he is typical of a certain breed of Shakespearean characters who are inferior to the women they marry.
Benedick: A young man from Padua, Benedick has a sparkling wit, is a friend of Don Pedro and Claudio, and has vowed he will never marry; however, in the end he too is smitten by love and makes an ideal match with Beatrice. One of Shakespeare’s comic heroes, Benedick is quick to act on belief and feeling. For example, once convinced that Beatrice is in love with him, he is willing to go to any extreme to please her, even that of killing Claudio.
Leonato: The governor of Messina, father of Hero, and uncle of Beatrice, Leonato is host to Don Pedro and his comrades-in-arms. At first somewhat unappreciative and untrusting of his daughter, he is convinced in the end that Hero is blameless and deserving of pity and sympathy, rather than censure.
Antonio: The brother of Leonato and the uncle of Hero and Beatrice, Antonio is Leonato’s helpful and trusting friend throughout the play.
Balthasar: A musician employed by Don Pedro, Balthasar attends faithfully to his prince.
Borachio: A drunken and unscrupulous follower of Don John, Borachio almost outdoes his master in villainy. He will do almost anything for money, and it is he who stages a scene with Margaret that practically wrecks the lives of Hero and Claudio.
Conrade: Another of Don John’s henchmen, Conrade is an underling to Borachio and helps him in his treacherous plots.
Friar Francis: The priest who performs the marriage ceremony of Claudio and Hero, he believes in Hero’s innocence and is the driving force behind clearing her name.
Dogberry: A comic character, Dogberry is the constable who unwittingly uncovers the villainous plot against Claudio and Hero. Coarse, ignorant, dunderheaded, and likable, his blundering efforts contribute much humor to the play.
Verges: The headborough of the region, Verges is as equally simple and comic as his companion, Dogberry.
Hero: The only daughter of Leonato and cousin and constant companion of Beatrice, Hero quickly wins Claudio’s heart and then suffers much as the result of Don John’s machinations. She is not a strong character and is overshadowed by the scintillating Beatrice. She does show some growth and character development, however, and matures because of the suffering she goes through. She is much more ready for marriage at the end of the play than she was at the beginning.
Beatrice: The niece of Leonato and cousin and confidant of Hero, Beatrice is the perfect foil for Benedick, whom she eventually falls in love with and marries. In the play’s skirmish of wits with Benedick, Beatrice shows liveliness, humor and a keen intelligence; indeed her power of repartee is probably excelled by no other Shakespearean character.
Margaret: Hero’s lady-in-waiting, Margaret was Borachio’s accomplice in tricking Claudio into thinking Hero was untrue. However, whether she was a willing or knowing accomplice is a matter of speculation and one of the loose stitches in the play.
Ursula: Another of Hero’s ladies-in-waiting, Ursula has a much smaller role in the play.

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