Skip to 0 minutes and 16 secondsIn a beautiful Italian town, some local soldiers are coming home after a war. One of the soldiers, a young man called Claudio, falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy, local family. Her name is Hero, and she loves him, too. But her cousin, Beatrice, is not so happy about the men's return. She remembers how she always argues with Claudio's friend, Benedick. She and he both like to speak their minds, and he is just as clever as she is. There's a big party to celebrate the end of the war, and soon there's another reason to celebrate. Claudio and Hero have decided to get married. But one of the guests decides to ruin things for them.

Skip to 1 minute and 10 secondsHe plans to trick Claudio into thinking that Hero is unfaithful to him. So he takes Claudio into a garden. From the garden, he points out Hero's bedroom window. Inside, there's a man and a woman. It's actually Hero's maid with a man friend. But because it's dark and they can't see clearly, Claudio assumes that it's his fiancee, Hero, and that she's with another man. Meanwhile, Hero, Claudio, and their friends have a plan of their own. They think Benedick and Beatrice would make an ideal couple. They decide to help them fall in love by playing a trick on them both. First, Claudio and two of his friends allow Benedick to overhear them talking about how much Beatrice is in love with him.

Skip to 2 minutes and 9 secondsThen, Hero and her maid do the same with Beatrice. They make sure she hears them talking about how much Benedick loves her. The trick works, and Beatrice and Benedick completely fall for each other. But more trouble is on the way. Claudio is both angry and upset with Hero because he still believes she's been flirting with the man he saw in her window. He waits until the wedding, and then accuses her of being unfaithful in front of everybody. Hero is so shocked she faints and falls to the floor unconscious. Everyone thinks she's dead, and Claudio and his friends leave the church in shock.

Skip to 2 minutes and 58 secondsBenedick and Hero's father decide no one should know Hero is still alive until they can prove that she hasn't done anything wrong. And Beatrice makes Benedick promised to kill Claudio for what he has done to Hero. Meanwhile, the local policeman has arrested the man who was in Hero's bedroom with the maid. The people who played the trick on Claudio have been reported. But while this is going on, Claudio still believes that Hero is dead, and he's very troubled to think that it is he who has killed her. Then, when the man who was arrested is forced to confess the trick to Claudio, Claudio is very sorry for wrongly accusing hero of being with another man.

Skip to 3 minutes and 50 secondsAs a punishment, he must publicly mourn Hero's death and tell everyone she's innocent. He is told to marry another of Hero's relatives instead. On the wedding day, Claudio goes to the church. But when the bride's veil is lifted, and he sees the face of this mysterious woman, he realises that it's Hero. And amazingly, she has forgiven him. The lovers are so happy to be back together. And Benedick and Beatrice announce that they, too, are going to get married later that day. There's a big party and dancing as everyone comes together to celebrate the double wedding. All's well that ends well.

The story of Much Ado About Nothing

Actor Susan Hingley explains the story of Much Ado About Nothing.

As you watch, make notes about what happens to the main characters. What do you learn about:

  • Claudio
  • Hero
  • Beatrice
  • Benedick

Watch again with subtitles or with the transcript in the Downloads section below. In the next step you’ll answer some questions about the story of Much Ado About Nothing.

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Shakespeare

British Council