Much Ado About Nothing: Novel Summary: Act 1, Scene 1

Leonato, the governor of Messina, his daughter Hero and his niece Beatrice introduce the scene.  Leonato tells the ladies that Don Pedro of Arragon will be arriving that night in Messina.  Apparently, a war has been raging and peace is a recent status quo, so many soldiers are returning home after a long interim period.  The group also learns that Don Pedro favors a young warrior named Claudio and that another soldier named Don Peter has distinguished himself.  The Lady Beatrice asks if Signior Benedick of Padua has also returned from battle.  Beatrice has enjoyed a merry war of wits between herself and Benedick; both manifest emotions of disgust for the other.  While her companions jovially extol Benedicks virtues, Beatrice calls him a fool.
At this point, Leonatos nephew Don Pedro and Benedick arrive.  Benedick and Beatrice engage in a war of words.  Don Pedro interrupts to tell everyone that Leonato has agreed to let Benedick and Claudio stay in his home for at least a month.  After some more chitchat, everyone goes inside except Benedick and Claudio.  Claudio has fallen in love at first sight with Hero and asks for his friends opinion of her.  Benedick replies that she is indeed fair and compassionate, but he also compares marriage to eternal bondage.  Don Pedro reenters and Benedick informs him of this new amorous development.  The three quarrel about women and marriage, with Benedick stoutly refusing to ever fall for feminine wiles and instead remain a bachelor.  Don Pedro in turn swears to see the day when Benedick will be married.  Benedick then leaves the room in a huff.  Claudio tells Don Pedro that he does not know how to profess his love to Hero; Pedro replies that he will disguise himself as Claudio and woo Hero.  Thus, Claudio will secure her hand in marriage without having to embarrass himself in front of her.