Key Quotations

Benedick speaks to Claudio and Don Pedro, about how even the wildest men eventually calm down to love and marriage.

"The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull’s horns and set them in my forehead, and let me be vilely painted, and in such great letters as they write ‘Here is good horse to hire’ let them signify under my sign ‘Here you may see Benedick, the married man.'’"(I.i.215–219)

Beatrice gives her witty explanation as to why she will not marry

" What should I do with him—dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him" (II.i.28–32)

Benedick has overheard Claudio, Leonato, and Don Pedro discussing Beatrice’s love for him. In a soliloquy he ponders this.

"They say the lady is fair. ‘Tis a truth, I can bear them witness. And virtuous—’tis so, I cannot reprove it. And wise, but for loving me. By my troth, it is no addition to her wit—nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her." (II.iii.204–208)

Claudio has openly disgraced Hero at their wedding ceremony, returning her to Leonato.

"O Hero! What a Hero hadst thou been If half thy outward graces had been placed About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart! But fare thee well, most foul, most fair, farewell Thou pure impiety and impious purity. For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love, And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm, And never shall it more be gracious" (IV.i.98–106)

Dogberry apprehends Conrad and Borachio and unravels Don John’s plot to deceive Claudio and ruin Hero

"Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! But masters, remember that I am an ass. Though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow, and which is more, an officer, and which is more, a householder, and which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows the law, go to . . . and one that hath two gowns, and everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass!" (IV.ii.67–78)

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