Much Ado About Nothing - Extract 2

This GCSE English Literature quiz is the second of two extract questions for William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. It takes place in Act Four, Scene One, after the dramatic scenes on the morning of Hero’s wedding. In this passage, Benedick and Beatrice leave their teasing and mockery behind for a more intimate and sincere conversation. They do not share the same aims and understanding of the situation, however. One interesting detail to note is the difference in the way each character addresses the other. Benedick repeatedly uses an intimate “thou”, reserved for those who are very close, while Beatrice maintains a formal “you” in her speech, refusing the closeness sought by Benedick.

Remember to read the passage through more than once before answering the questions.

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Consider the ways in which this passage relates to the themes of the play. Which details do you identify as significant? How do you view the pace and rhythm of the conversation? Don’t forget: it’s a good idea to practise several extract questions, so be sure to try the Extract 1 quiz, as well!

How to answer an extract question in an exam:

Always read through the passage more than once before you begin to answer an extract question in an exam. On the first reading, you should aim for a broad understanding of the passage, considering especially how it relates to the question or questions you will be answering. As you read through the second time, you should begin noting details and making annotations. Ask yourself why the specific passage has been chosen: what is its significance? How does it relate to the rest of the text? Can you define its place in the structure of the text? Are any significant characters or themes introduced? What happens next? Can you see evidence of foreshadowing? How does the passage develop? Can you think of a reason why the extract ends where it does instead of elsewhere? Is the final line significant?

You should also think carefully about the question you have been asked to answer. Does it concern mood and atmosphere of the extract or a particular character? Perhaps you have been asked to discuss dialogue, behaviour or feelings. Now think about the question you have been asked and the notes you have made in relation to the themes of the text. Remember to explain the passage’s immediate context: what has happened before this point in the text? How do prior events relate to those of the extract? Carefully consider the detail, setting and characterisation. When writing, group related ideas together, but remember to discuss the entire passage in your answer. Allow yourself time to cover the entire passage. Otherwise, you might spend all your time writing on the first half in great detail at the expense of the rest of the passage.

Read the passage below carefully before answering the questions.

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BENEDICK: Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?

BEATRICE: Yea, and I will weep a while longer.

BENEDICK: I will not desire that.

BEATRICE: You have no reason, I do it freely.

BENEDICK: Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.

BEATRICE: Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her!

BENEDICK: Is there any way to show such friendship?

BEATRICE: A very even way, but no such friend.

BENEDICK: May a man do it?

BEATRICE: It is a man’s office, but not yours.

BENEDICK: I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?

BEATRICE: As strange as the thing I know not. It were as possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you, but believe me not, and yet I lie not. I confess nothing nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.

BENEDICK: By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.

BEATRICE: Do not swear and eat it.

BENEDICK: I will swear by it that you love me, and I will make him eat it that says I love not you.

BEATRICE: Will you not eat your word?

BENEDICK: With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest I love thee.

BEATRICE: Why then, God forgive me.

BENEDICK: What offence, sweet Beatrice?

BEATRICE: You have stayed me in a happy hour. I was about to protest I loved you.

BENEDICK: And do it with all thy heart.

BEATRICE: I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.

BENEDICK: Come, bid me do anything for thee.

BEATRICE: Kill Claudio.

BENEDICK: Ha! Not for the wide world.

BEATRICE: You kill me to deny it. Farewell.

BENEDICK: Tarry, sweet Beatrice.

BEATRICE: I am gone though I am here. There is no love in you. - Nay, I pray you, let me go.

BENEDICK: Beatrice.

BEATRICE: In faith, I will go.

BENEDICK: We’ll be friends first.

BEATRICE: You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy.

BENEDICK: Is Claudio thine enemy?

BEATRICE: Is [he] not approved in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they come to take hands, and then with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour - O God that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market place.

BENEDICK: Hear me, Beatrice.

BEATRICE: Talk with a man out at a window - a proper saying.

BENEDICK: Nay, but Beatrice.

BEATRICE: Sweet Hero, she is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.


William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing (W. W. Norton, 2008)
  1. What is the immediate context for this passage?
    This scene follows shortly after Claudio's public shaming of Hero; Hero's friends and family have agreed to buy some time with a ruse by pretending that Hero has died, rather than merely fainting
  2. What immediately follows this passage?
    After ascertaining that Beatrice truly believes that Claudio has acted shamefully towards Hero, he agrees to do as she asks
  3. What is meant by Benedick's line, "Beat—"?
    Benedick is repeatedly interrupted as he attempts to mollify Beatrice
  4. "I will swear by it that you love me, and I will make him eat it that says I love not you." Benedick swears by his sword that he loves Beatrice. What does he mean by "I will make him eat it"?
    Benedick is prepared to use his sword to fight with anyone who doubts his love for Beatrice. To "eat" his sword literally means to be stabbed
  5. Referring to the answer to the previous question, how does Beatrice overturn Benedick's boastful promise?
    Fighting as a response to someone doubting his love is rather pointless in Beatrice's eyes. More valuable to her would be a defence of her cousin's honour, so she asks Benedick to kill Claudio
  6. "O that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they come to take hands, and then with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour - O God that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market place." Which aspect of Claudio's refusal to marry Hero does Beatrice most condemn in these lines?
    The public nature of Hero's disgrace makes sense of Beatrice's threat to eat Claudio's heart in the market place (as public an environment as possible)
  7. Which of the following refers to fighting a duel for Hero's honour?
    Beatrice means that fighting such a duel can only be a man's job; however good she is at duelling with words, she cannot exact vengeance on Claudio in a socially respectable manner
  8. Which of the following lines does NOT imply that Benedick is somehow physically restraining Beatrice?
    Beatrice's request to Benedick to let her go is reinforced by her statement of determination to go. Benedick's response implies that he is reluctant to allow her to leave on such an unpleasant note. The restraint might be as simple as his hand on her arm, but it is still present
  9. "Will you not eat your word?" Beatrice's question aligns two different weapons capable of violence. What are these?
    Benedick has promised to make another man "eat" his sword. Beatrice questions whether he will have to eat his "word", or his promise. This play on words also draws upon the themes of the play, especially those concerning the dangerous power of words as weapons
  10. Which of the following lines contrast outer appearances with inner reality?
    Beatrice makes a distinction between her self and her physical presence

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