Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises to check your understanding.
This comedy was first written in 1598, and since then it has been a favourite for theatres, television and the cinema.
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In a beautiful Italian town, some local soldiers are coming back 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 is another reason to celebrate! Claudio and Hero have decided to get married. But one of the guests decides to ruin things for them. He 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 fiancée, Hero, and that she’s with another man!
Meanwhile, Hero, Claudio and their friends have a plan of their own. They think that 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. Then 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 then accuses her of being unfaithful, in front of everybody! Hero is so shocked that she faints and falls to the floor, unconscious. Everyone thinks she’s dead, and Claudio and his friends leave the church in shock. Benedick and Hero’s father decide no one should know that Hero is still alive until they can prove that she hasn’t done anything wrong. And Beatrice makes Benedick promise 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 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. As a punishment, Claudio must publicly mourn Hero’s death and tell everyone she is 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 is a big party and dancing as everyone comes together to celebrate the double wedding. All’s well that ends well.
What's your opinion of Hero and Claudio's relationship? Do you think they will have a happy marriage?