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Act 1, Scene 3
This scene presents the villain, Don John, and reveals his low character. A self-confessed rascal, he declares that he would like to remain a person with low standing rather than seek his brother's help in rising to power. He is with a friend, Conrade. Borachio, Don John's drunken accomplice, reveals that Don Pedro intends to woo Hero for Claudio. He explains that he learned this by eavesdropping. Don John expresses his strong dislike for the heroic Claudio who defeated him in battle, and says he would like to thwart the warrior's future happiness. The three men continue to plot their misdeeds.
Don John has managed to perceive the reality of the situation, but uses Antonio's misconception to plot the conspiracy. This scene sows the seeds of the intrigue soon to be hatched by Borachio against Claudio and Hero, and also makes the preceding scene a little more important, in that it provides at least a basis for action.
It is interesting to note that two sets of characters have interpreted the same information in a completely contrasting manner. The conspirators, Don John, Borachio, and Conrade have hit upon the actual facts about the wooing of Hero, whereas Antonio has misinterpreted the situation completely, thinking he knows the secret truth. These complicated machinations only illustrate how the same piece of news is twisted to suit each man's purpose. It also shows how an innocent girl is made the means to secure revenge.
Don John is an uncomplicated villain; he has no redeeming or challenging attributes. He is a rogue, pure and simple. He confesses his attitude bluntly, saying, "I am a plain dealing villain." Given the right degree of power, Don John would destroy everyone in his path. This scene highlights his especial antipathy toward heroic Claudio, who defeated him in battle.
At this juncture the culmination of evil forces threaten to mar the spirit of romantic comedy. Don John is jealous of Claudio and hates him. He will stop at nothing in the process of preventing the happiness of his enemy.
These two scenes (Scenes 2 and 3) can be viewed as contrasts in theme. They emphasize the theme of 'noting.' The same information is interpreted in two different ways. While the villainous group has managed to hit upon the accurate facts, the favored party (thanks to Antonio) has misinterpreted the news entirely. This pattern will be repeated again and again in the play, culminating in the most troublesome and also the happiest moments of the play.