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MonkeyNotes-Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
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Act V, Scene 1

Antonio comforts his brother Leonato, who has come to believe in Hero's innocence. When Don Pedro and Claudio come to see Leonato, both Leonato and Antonio speak to them rudely and with defiance. They are ready to challenge Claudio to a duel for having slandered and dishonored their family name. Leonato accuses Claudio and says were it not for his gray hair and age he would fight Claudio to revenge the slander hurled on his daughter.

Don Pedro expresses his regret, but maintains that he saw Hero commit the infidelity with his own eyes, therefore it must be true. Leonato and Antonio leave in a rage. Benedick comes to meet Don Pedro and Claudio. Benedick challenges Claudio to a duel over Claudio's shameful act of slandering an innocent girl. He speaks with much indifference to his friend, Don Pedro.

Don Pedro and Claudio honestly believe in what they have "noted" (that is, Hero's infidelity at her window). When they see Borachio and Conrade in handcuffs, and inquire about the particulars of their crime, they are truly shocked and dismayed. Claudio and Don Pedro realize the gravity of their false accusation of Hero and become totally repentant and remorseful.

Don Pedro and Claudio sincerely apologize to Leonato for the blunder that they believe has cost Hero her life. Leonato tells them his daughter cannot come back to life, but offers to marry his niece to Claudio (though his niece is actually Hero). Claudio gratefully accepts the proposal and vows to mourn the dead Hero for the rest of his life.


Notes

This scene marks the most dramatic turn of events in which Hero is vindicated and some of the villains are caught (though Don John is still free). All the "ado" of honor fights between Benedick and Claudio, as well as Leonato and Claudio, come to nothing, since the truth is known.

When the play is viewed historically, both Leonato and Antonio's sense of family honor in challenging Claudio deserve due appreciation. Shakespeare has given ample evidence of their boldness, being dauntless and invincible. Claudio and Don Pedro show their due respect to the old men by being tolerant in spite of being insulted by them.

Once Claudio and Don Pedro realize the error of their ways, they are doubly repentant. Claudio's anguish is revealed in his words where he talks of the time the very first time he had seen her:

"Sweet Hero! Now the image doth appear. In the rare semblance that I lov'd it first."

The conflict of how to absolve himself of guilt is solved in part when Leonato suggests that Claudio should marry his niece, who is actually Hero in disguise. The need for this disguise is never fully explained; it is simply another fuss, or "ado" that has no real purpose.

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