Act 4, Scene 1, lines 199 to 328

  1. The Friar:

                                        Pause awhile
    And let my counsel sway you in this case.           [200]
    Your daughter here the Princes left for dead,
    Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
    And publish it that she is dead indeed.

    Maintain a mourning ostentation,
    And on your family’s old monument                   [205]
    Hang mournful epitaphs, and do all rites
    That appertain unto a burial.

  2. Leonato:

    What shall become of this? What will this do?

  3. The Friar:

    Marry, this well carried, shall on her behalf
    Change slander to remorse. That is some good.  [210]
    But not for that dream I on this strange course,
    But on this travail look for greater birth.
    She dying, as it must be so maintained,
    Upon the instant that she was accused,
    Shall be lamented, pitied, and excused             [215]
    Of every hearer. For it so falls out,
    That what we have we prize not to the worth     
    Whiles we enjoy it. But being lacked and lost, 
    Why then we rack the value, then we find
    The virtue that possession would not show us[220]
    Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio.
    When he shall hear she died upon his words,
    The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
    Into his study of imagination.
    And every lovely organ of her life                         [225]
    Shall come apparelled in more precious habit,
    More moving, delicate, and full of life,
    Into the eye and prospect of his soul 
    Than when she lived indeed. Then shall he mourn,
    If ever love had interest in his liver,                     [230]
    And wish he had not so accusèd her.
    No, though he thought his accusation true.
    Let this be so, and doubt not but success
    Will fashion the event in better shape
    Than I can lay it down in likelihood.                      [235]
    But if all aim but this be levelled false,
    The supposition of the lady’s death
    Will quench the wonder of her infamy.
    And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,
    As best befits her wounded reputation,                 [240]
    In some reclusive and religious life,
    Out of all eyes, tongues, minds and injuries.

  4. Benedick:

    Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you.
    And though you know my inwardness and love
    Is very much unto the Prince and Claudio,                [245]
    Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this
    As secretly and justly as your soul
    Should with your body.

  5. Leonato:

    Being that I flow in grief,
    The smallest twine may lead me.           [250]  


  6. The Friar:

    ’Tis well consented. Presently away,
    For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.
    Come lady, die to live. This wedding day
    Perhaps is but prolonged, have patience and endure.

  7. Exit all except BEATRICE and BENEDICK.

  8. Benedick:

    Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?       [255]

  9. Beatrice:

    Yea, and I will weep a while longer.

  10. Benedick:

    I will not desire that.

  11. Beatrice:

    You have no reason, I do it freely.

  12. Benedick:

    Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.

  13. Beatrice:

    Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that             [260]
    would right her!

  14. Benedick:

    Is there any way to show such friendship?

  15. Beatrice:

    A very even way, but no such friend.

  16. Benedick:

    May a man do it?

  17. Beatrice:

    It is a man’s office, but not yours.          [265]

  18. Benedick:

    I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that

  19. 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    [270]
    . - I am sorry for my cousin.

  20. Benedick:

    By my sword Beatrice thou lovest me.

  21. Beatrice:

    Do not swear by it and eat it.

  22. Benedick:

    I will swear by it that you love me, and I will make him
    eat it that says I love not you.                          [275]

  23. Beatrice:

    Will you not eat your word?

  24. Benedick:

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

  25. Beatrice:

    Why then, God forgive me.

  26. Benedick:

    What offence, sweet Beatrice?

  27. Beatrice:

    You have stayed me in a happy hour, I was about to  [280]
    protest I loved you.

  28. Benedick:

    And do it with all thy heart?

  29. Beatrice:

    I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to

  30. Benedick:

    Come, bid me do anything for thee.         [285]

  31. Beatrice:

    Kill Claudio.

  32. Benedick:

    Ha, not for the wide world.

  33. Beatrice:

    You kill me to deny it, farewell. [She starts to leave.] 

  34. Benedick:

    [Stopping her.] Tarry sweet Beatrice.

  35. Beatrice:

    I am gone, though I am here. There is no love in you.    [290]
    Nay, I pray you, let me go.

  36. Benedick:

    Beatrice –

  37. Beatrice:

    In faith I will go.

  38. Benedick:

    We’ll be friends first.

  39. Beatrice:

    You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine [295]

  40. Benedick:

    Is Claudio thine enemy?

  41. 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   [300] 
    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 marketplace.

  42. Benedick:

    Hear me, Beatrice –

  43. Beatrice:

    Talk with a man out at a window! A proper saying!  [305]

  44. Benedick:

    Nay but Beatrice –

  45. Beatrice:

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

  46. Benedick:

    Beat –

  47. Beatrice:

    Princes and counties! Surely a princely testimony, a   [310]
    goodly count, Count Comfect, a sweet gallant surely!
    O that I were a man for his sake! Or that I had any
    friend would be a man for my sake! But manhood is
    melted into curtsies, valour into compliment, and men
    are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too. He is
    now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie, and
    swears it. I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore
    I will die a woman with grieving.

  48. Benedick:

    Tarry good Beatrice. By this hand I love thee.

  49. Beatrice:

    Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.  [320]

  50. Benedick:

    Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath
    wronged Hero?

  51. Beatrice:

    Yea, as sure as I have a thought, or a soul.

  52. Benedick:

    Enough, I am engaged, I will challenge him. I will kiss
    your hand, and so I leave you. By this hand, Claudio   [325]
    shall render me a dear account. As you hear of me, so
    think of me. Go comfort your cousin, I must say she is
    dead, and so farewell.        [Exit Benedick and Beatrice]


The scene begins with all the characters gathered together to witness the marriage of Claudio and Hero. But when asked to give his vow, Claudio goes into an outrage, refusing to marry Hero and claiming she is an unchaste maid. During the commotion Hero collapses and after Don Pedro and Claudio leave, it is decided that Hero’s death will be faked. The scene ends with Benedick’s acceptance to challenge Claudio to a dual at the request of his love, Beatrice.

1. Study the Friars speech (lines 209 to 242) and try and count the 10 syllables which make up each line of iambic pentameter.

2. Finding examples from the text, what is different about Benedick’s and Beatrice’s dialogue in this scene compared with previous scenes?