Much Ado About Nothing

by: William Shakespeare

Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon

Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your Grace, for trouble being gone, comfort should remain, but when you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave. (A1,S1)

Leonato compliments Don Pedro, revealing Don Pedro’s high standing. Pedro is a figure of authority who is loved and respected, and this status places him in a decision-making role. Many characters will defer to his judgment as the story unfolds, for both good and ill.

If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it, And I will break with her and with her father, And thou shalt have her. (A1,S1)

After Claudio confides that he loves Hero, Don Pedro responds that he will speak with Hero’s father about the matter and arrange a union. Without a second thought, Don Pedro immediately directs other people’s business for them, assuming that’s what they’d prefer. While his string-pulling sometimes yields good results, his behavior is highly presumptuous, suggesting both an inflated ego and a voyeuristic interest in others’ affairs.

In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke. (A1,S1)

Don Pedro uses a metaphor to explain to Benedick that all rambunctious bachelors eventually settle down for life. Don Pedro views himself as a distinguished dispenser of wisdom, speaking to Benedick in the tone of a mentor or father figure. Curiously, Don Pedro himself is unmarried, a fact which calls the reliability of his wisdom into question.

I would she had bestowed this dotage on me. I would have daffed all other respects and made her half myself. I pray you tell Benedick of it and hear what he will say. (A2,S3)

Don Pedro casually mentions that he’d like to be the object of Beatrice’s affections. This will not be the only time Don Pedro confesses a fondness for Beatrice. Though the confessions come packaged in a joking tone, they provide a possible clue to Don Pedro’s motivations: Perhaps he directs other people’s love lives because he is unsatisfied with his own.

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 another’s dotage, and no such matter. (A2,S3)

We see Don Pedro’s deceptions in full swing, as he excitedly instructs underlings to make Beatrice and Benedick believe each loves the other. While the end result of bringing two people together in love makes the scheme appear good-natured, Don Pedro’s delight in deceiving and meddling with his friends is a bit sinister.

The former Hero! Hero that is dead! (A5,S4)

When Hero reveals that she faked her own death, Don Pedro reveals he is truly shocked, as he suddenly realizes that his control of events is more limited than he thought. The last thing Don Pedro the social puppet-master expects is to fall prey to deception himself. Though he is ultimately happy to see Hero safe and sound, this twist likely deals a solid blow to Don Pedro’s self-assuredness.