Act 2, Scene 3, lines 88 to 238

  1. Don Pedro:

    Come hither Leonato. What was it you told me of today,
    that your niece Beatrice was in love with Signor Benedick?

  2. Claudio:

    [Aside.] O ay, stalk on, stalk on, the fowl sits. - I did [90]
    never think that lady would have loved any man.

  3. Leonato:

    No, nor I neither. But most wonderful that she should
    so dote on Signor Benedick, whom she hath in all
    outward behaviours seemed ever to abhor.

  4. Benedick:

    [Aside.] Is't possible? Sits the wind in that corner? [95]

  5. Leonato:

    By my troth my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it,
    but that she loves him with an enraged affection. It is
    past the infinite of thought.

  6. Don Pedro:

    May be she doth but counterfeit.

  7. Claudio:

    Faith, like enough. [100]

  8. Leonato:

    O God! Counterfeit? There was never counterfeit of passion
    came so near the life of passion as she discovers it.

  9. Don Pedro:

    Why, what effects of passion shows she?

  10. Claudio:

    [Aside.] Bait the hook well, this fish will bite.

  11. Leonato:

    What effects my lord? She will sit you - you heard my [105]
    daughter tell you how.

  12. Claudio:

    She did indeed.

  13. Don Pedro:

    How, how, I pray you? You amaze me. I would have
    thought her spirit had been invincible against all
    assaults of affection. [110]

  14. Leonato:

    I would have sworn it had, my lord, especially against

  15. Benedick:

    [Aside.] I should think this a gull, but that the white-
    bearded fellow speaks it. Knavery cannot, sure, hide
    himself in such reverence.                           [115]

  16. Claudio:

    [Aside.] He hath ta'en th' infection. Hold it up.

  17. Don Pedro:

    Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?

  18. Leonato:

    No, and swears she never will. That's her torment.

  19. Claudio:

    'Tis true indeed, so your daughter says. "Shall I," says
    she, "that have so oft encountered him with scorn, [120]
    write to him that I love him?"

  20. Leonato:

    This says she now when she is beginning to write to
    him, for she'll be up twenty times a night, and there
    will she sit in her smock till she have writ a sheet of
    paper. My daughter tells us all. [125]

  21. Claudio:

    Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty
    jest your daughter told us of.

  22. Leonato:

    O, when she had writ it, and was reading it over, she
    found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?

  23. Claudio:

    That. [130]

  24. Leonato:

    O she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence, railed at
    herself that she should be so immodest to write to one
    that she knew would flout her. "I measure him," says
    she, "by my own spirit, for I should flout him if he writ
    to me, yea though I love him, I should." [135]

  25. Claudio:

    Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs,
    beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses. "O sweet
    Benedick! God give me patience!"

  26. Leonato:

    She doth indeed, my daughter says so. And the ecstasy
    hath so much overborne her that my daughter is [140]
    sometime afeard she will do a desperate outrage to
    herself. It is very true.

  27. Don Pedro:

    It were good that Benedick knew of it by some other, if
    she will not discover it.

  28. Claudio:

    To what end? He would make but a sport of it and [145]
    torment the poor lady worse.

  29. Don Pedro:

    And he should, it were an alms to hang him. She's an
    excellent sweet lady, and (out of all suspicion), she is

  30. Claudio:

    And she is exceeding wise. [150]

  31. Don Pedro:

    In everything, but in loving Benedick.

  32. Leonato:

    O my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender
    a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath the
    victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, being
    her uncle and her guardian. [155]

  33. Don Pedro:

    I would she had bestowed this dotage on me. I would
    have doffed all other respects and made her half myself.
    I pray you tell Benedick of it and hear what he will say.

  34. Leonato:

    Were it good, think you?

  35. Claudio:

    Hero thinks surely she will die. For she says she will [160]
    die if he love her not, and she will die ere she make her
    love known, and she will die if he woo her, rather than
    she will bate one breath of her accustomed crossness.

  36. Don Pedro:

    She doth well. If she should make tender of her love,
    'tis very possible he'll scorn it, for the man (as you [165]
    know all), hath a contemptible spirit.

  37. Claudio:

    He is a very proper man.

  38. Don Pedro:

    He hath indeed a good outward happiness.

  39. Claudio:

    Before God, and in my mind, very wise.

  40. Don Pedro:

    He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit. [170]

  41. Claudio:

    And I take him to be valiant.

  42. Don Pedro:

    As Hector, I assure you. And in the managing of
    quarrels you may say he is wise, for either he avoids
    them with great discretion, or undertakes them with a
    most Christian-like fear. [175]

  43. Leonato:

    If he do fear God, 'a must necessarily keep peace. If he
    break the peace, he ought to enter into a quarrel with
    fear and trembling.

  44. Don Pedro:

    And so will he do, for the man doth fear God,
    howsoever it seems not in him by some large jests he [180]
    will make. Well, I am sorry for your niece. Shall we go
    seek Benedick and tell him of her love?

  45. Claudio:

    Never tell him, my lord, let her wear it out with good

  46. Leonato:

    Nay that's impossible, she may wear her heart out first. [185]

  47. Don Pedro:

    Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter. Let it
    cool the while. I love Benedick well, and I could wish
    he would modestly examine himself to see how much
    he is unworthy so good a lady.

  48. Leonato:

    My lord, will you walk? Dinner is ready. [190]

  49. Claudio:

    [Aside.] If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never
    trust my expectation.

  50. Don Pedro:

    [Aside.] Let there be the same net spread for her, and
    that must your daughter and her gentlewomen carry.
    The sport will be when they hold one an opinion of  [195]
    another's dotage, and no such matter. That's the scene
    that I would see, which will be merely a dumb-show.
    Let us send her to call him in to dinner. 

  51. Exit Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio.

  52. Benedick:

    [He steps out.] This can be no trick. The conference was
    sadly borne, they have the truth of this from Hero,   [200]
    they seem to pity the lady. It seems her affections have
    their full bent. Love me? Why, it must be requited.
    I hear how I am censured. They say I will bear myself
    proudly if I percieve the love come from her. They say
    too, that she will rather die than give any sign of     [205]
    affection. I did never think to marry. I must not seem
    proud. Happy are they that hear their detractions and
    can put them to mending. 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 [210]
    troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument
    of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her. I may
    chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit
    broken on me, because I have railed so long against
    marriage. But doth not the appetite alter? A man loves [215]
    the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.
    Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the
    brain awe a man from the career of his humour? No,
    the world must be peopled. When I said I would die a
    bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married. [220]
    Here comes Beatrice. By this day, she's a fair lady. I do
    spy some marks of love in her. 

  53. Enter Beatrice.

  54. Beatrice:

    Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.

  55. Benedick:

    Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.

  56. Beatrice:

    I took no more pains for those thanks than you take [225]
    pains to thank me. If it had been painful, I would not
    have come.

  57. Benedick:

    You take pleasure then, in the message?

  58. Beatrice:

    Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife's point,
    and choke a daw withal. You have no stomach signor? [230]
    Fare you well.

  59. Exit Beatrice.

  60. Benedick:

    Ha! "Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to
    dinner." There's a double meaning in that. "I took no
    more pains for those thanks than you took pains to
    thank me." That's as much as to say, "Any pains that [235]
    I take for you is as easy as thanks." If I do not take pity
    of her I am a villain. If I do not love her, I am a Jew.
    I will go get her picture.

  61. Exit.


Benedick hears Don Pedro, Leonato, Claudio and Balthasar entering and so he decides to hide behind the arbour and listen to their conversation. Whilst Benedick is hiding, Don Pedro and the other men carry out their plan to trick Benedick into thinking Beatrice is in love with him. The men leave the scene to go to dinner, whilst Benedick is left bemused at what he has just heard. Then Beatrice, unaware of what has just happened, enters to ask Benedick to dinner and is surprised by his unusual flattery and kind manner towards her.

1. Look at the frequent use of asides in this scene, how might these lines be delivered differently compared with the other lines in the play?

2. What examples can you find of the ways Benedick interprets Beatrice’s language as being positive rather than negative at the end of this scene (lines 223 to 238)?