In Messina, as Don Pedro, the Prince of Arragon, and his officers return from a recently concluded war, a message comes to Leonato that the prince intends to visit his house for a month. The Duke’s party arrives with Count Claudio, who had before the war been attracted by Leonato’s only daughter, Hero. Another of the visitors is Benedick, a bachelor, who enjoys speaking his mind in witty argument with Hero’s cousin and companion, the Lady Beatrice.
Leonato holds a masked ball to celebrate the end of the war and the engagement of Claudio to Hero is arranged while the Duke’s brother, Don John, resenting the celebrations, seeks a way to spoil the general happiness.
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