Much Ado About Nothing Quotes on Respect and Reputation

“I find here that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honor ona young Florentine called Claudio.” Speaker: LeonatoAudience: MessengerSituation: Claudio’s reputation precedes him, literally – we’re introduced to Claudio’s reputation before we meet him. It’s important that in our first exposure to this central character, the man is judged not by his deeds, but by what people (in this case, Don Pedro) say about him. This ends up being the case for Hero also; her bad reputation doesn’t come about from her actions, which everyone witnesses as pure, but based on Claudio thinking poorly of her.
“Truly the lady fathers herself. Be happy, lady;for you are like an honorable father.” Speaker: Don PedroAudience: HeroSituation: Don Pedro grants Hero a positive reputation by saying she is her father’s daughter. The important thing is that reputation is bestowed easily, so it can be taken away easily too. Looking forward, we know that even Hero’s father, the source of her reputation, will denounce her, destroying her reputation.
“If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn. Let me bid you welcome, my lord. Being reconciled to thePrince your brother, I owe you all duty.” Speaker: LeonatoAudience: Don JohnSituation: Leonato deals with Don John justly, though the man is a proven villain. For Leonato, it’s enough that Don John has made amends with Don Pedro. This seems to have restored his reputation, which makes Leonato trust the former villain. Again, reputation isn’t based on deeds.
“What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?Stand I condemn’d for pride and scorn so much?Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!No glory lives behind the back of such.And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand.” Speaker: BeatriceAudience: SelfSituation: Beatrice is willing to love Benedick, but it seems that the main force behind the decision is to clear her own reputation. Beatrice overheard Hero say that Benedick loves her.
“If I see anything to-night why I should not marry herto-morrow, in the congregation where I should wed, there will Ishame her.” Speaker: ClaudioAudience: Don PedroSituation: This is particularly nasty of Claudio. Rather than just canceling the wedding if Hero is disloyal, he’s hell-bent on disgracing her in front of the whole congregation. His plan is more about vengefully ruining her reputation than it is about escaping a loveless, dishonest marriage.
“Sweet Prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.There, Leonato, take her back again.Give not this rotten orange to your friend.She’s but the sign and semblance of her honor.Behold how like a maid she blushes here!O, what authority and show of truthCan cunning sin cover itself withal!Comes not that blood as modest evidenceTo witness simple virtue, Would you not swear,All you that see her, that she were a maidBy these exterior shows? But she is none:She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.” Speaker: ClaudioAudience: Leonato, Don Pedro, and everyone at the wedding ceremony.Situation: Claudio is hung up on how Hero appears – he thinks her image as a virtuous girl is false, masking her true nature. Reputation is linked with appearances – Hero blushes like a virgin, but Claudio thinks she isn’t one. Her reputation as a maiden rests on how she appears; in insisting that how Hero seems is not how she is, Claudio effectively undoes her reputation.
Speaker: “And seem’d I ever otherwise to you?Audience: “Out on the seeming! I will write against it.You seem to me as Dian in her orb,As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;But you are more intemperate in your bloodThan Venus, or those pamp’red animalsThat rage in savage sensuality.”Speaker: “Is my lord well that he doth speak so wide?” Speaker: HeroAudience: ClaudioSituation: It’s interesting here that Hero, instead of simply stating that she is completely innocent, asks Claudio how she “seemed” to him. However, Claudio’s entire point is that she seemed innocent, and was not. Unlike Claudio, Hero implies that her reputation should be based on her actions, rather than on accusations and other peoples’ opinions.
“She dying, as it must be so maintain’d,Upon the instant that she was accus’d,Shall be lamented, pitied, and excus’dOf every hearer; for it so falls outThat what we have we prize not to the worthWhiles we enjoy it, but being lack’d and lost,Why, then we rack the value, then we findThe virtue that possession would not show usWhiles it was ours.” Speaker: Friar FrancisAudience: Leonato, Benedick, Hero, and BeatriceSituation: The Friar thinks Hero’s reputation will be restored once people think she’s dead. She’ll become the object of lamentation, and people will repent ever having thought bad things about her. It’s the “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” idea. This continues to emphasize the point that reputation is not based on deeds; the Friar thinks that Hero’s reputation will improve simply by manipulating the emotions of the public.
“Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect myyears? O that he were here to write me down an ass! But, masters,remember that I am an ass. Though it be not written down, yetforget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full ofpiety, as shall be prov’d upon thee by good witness. I am a wisefellow; and which is more, an officer; and which is more, ahouseholder; and which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as anyis in Messina, and one that knows the law, go to! and a richfellow enough, go to! and a fellow that hath had losses; and onethat hath two gowns and everything handsome about him. Bring himaway. O that I had been writ down an ass!” Speaker: DogberryAudience: Borachio and The WatchSituation: Dogberry lists all of the trappings he has that make him a gentleman, thinking he is actually securing his reputation. It’s an interesting insight into Dogberry’s insecurity, but it’s also echoed by a later conversation between Benedick and Beatrice (see 5.2.73). When Benedick says he’s wise, Beatrice points out he is unwise to say so. We wouldn’t have believed Dogberry was a gentleman under any circumstances (given his backwards speech), but we’re especially sure he isn’t a gentleman now that he’s insisted that he is one, because that’s not gentlemanly thing to say.