Much Ado About Nothing - Character

This GCSE English Literature quiz will challenge you on character. William Shakespeare’s play, Much Ado About Nothing, has a relatively small and self-contained list of dramatis personae. In Messina live Leonato, Hero and Beatrice, along with Hero’s attendants, Margaret and Ursula. Leonato also has a brother, Antonio. In this quiet place arrives Don Pedro, Claudio and Benedick, each of whom is already known in Messina. Beyond these few characters, the play also introduces a Friar, Dogberry, the constable, and some watchmen. Don John, Pedro’s illegitimate brother, and his two companions Borachio and Conrad, interfere in the seemingly smooth running of society in Messina.

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The play presents two very different couples: Beatrice and Benedick, who are matched in their wit and skill with language, as well as in their cynicism about romance, and Hero and Claudio, whose romantic path seems clear until Don John decides to intervene by slandering Hero. The aftershocks of his deceit sharply reveal characteristics which had been subtle and merely hinted at before. The scene in church where several adult men turn against Hero is a shocking event in a play which is often considered light-hearted.

We understand characters in drama primarily through their speech, their actions and interactions with other characters. Although gesture and costume are for the most part left to a reader’s imagination, in performance the audience of a play has access to these additional means by which to understand characters better. Watching a production of a play is an excellent way to see how its characters have been interpreted by different people. When reading Much Ado About Nothing, pay close attention to the few asides and to private dialogues where you can learn what characters might be thinking and planning. How does the quality of Beatrice’s and Benedick’s dialogue change once they have admitted to their (possibly manufactured) love for one another?

Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in Much Ado About Nothing.

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  1. Who first proposes to bring Beatrice and Benedick together despite their resistance and "merry war"?
    Don Pedro takes delight in pairing up couples, playing matchmaker, and even wooing Hero while disguised as Claudio. At one point, he cheerfully asks Beatrice to marry him
  2. Discovering the deception of her friends and family, Beatrice tells Benedick that she merely loved him in "friendly recompense". What character trait does her response reveal?
    Through pride, both Beatrice and Benedick attempt to downplay the love which they earlier swore to one another
  3. "Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signor Leonato?" How does Benedick disappoint Claudio with his response to this question?
    Benedick also implies that Claudio's admiration is ordinary, too. Claudio has decided to play the romantic, while Bendick presents a cynical face to his friends
  4. Which of the following best describes Hero?
    Hero rarely talks, especially amongst men. We know that she can be playful because she participates in the joke against Beatrice
  5. Which of the following is NOT one of the phrases Don John uses to describe or explain himself?
    Beatrice and her uncle Leonato joke about the kind of man which could be created if he were half Benedick and half Don John. Such as man, Beatrice says, could find favour with any woman, provided he had money. By contrast, Don John refers to himself in negative terms, as melancholic and a trouble-maker
  6. Although at first he believes the slander against Hero, how does Leonato later respond to Claudio's rejection of her?
    Leonato's responses are equally passionate, whether in blame of his daughter or of Claudio. He is maintaining a pretence to some extent in challenging Claudio to a duel, however, because he knows that his daughter is not dead
  7. "One Hero died defiled, but I do live, / And surely as I live, I am a maid." What does Hero wish to assert with these words at her wedding?
    These are Hero's final words in the play. It is important for her to swear to her virginity, a paramount virtue for her place in her society, but she also reprimands her future husband with the stark imagery she uses: he defiled and killed her former self
  8. Which of the following lines from the first scene of the play best demonstrates Beatrice's wit?
    Beatrice is full of put downs for Benedick, both before he arrives and in person. Some of these are direct insults, such as when she tells Benedick that no one is paying him any attention ("Nobody marks you"), but several of these involve a considerable amount of wit as she uses various similes and metaphors to insult him more scathingly
  9. Which of the following is NOT true of Claudio?
    Hero is her father's only heir, meaning that her husband will own and control all of Leonato's property and wealth after his death. Before telling Don Pedro how he has decided to love Hero, Claudio checks whether she has a brother, who as a son, would automatically be Leonato's heir
  10. "Why, what's the matter / That you have such a February face, / So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?" To whom are Don Pedro's words in the final scene of the play addressed?
    Don Pedro and Claudio tease Benedick mercilessly for finding himself about to get married despite his earlier intentions never to marry

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