Much Ado About Nothing: Novel Summary: Act 4, Scene 1

Act 4, Scene 1
 During the wedding, Claudio disrupts the ceremony by publicly revealing what he saw last night of “Heros” infidelity and shame.  He spurns her and condemns her as an impure disgrace.  Shocked, Leonato and Hero feebly try to calm him down and make him listen to reason.  Don Pedro, however, confirms Claudios story, to Heros utter bewilderment.  She faints in the confusion and Don Pedro, Don John and Claudio leave.
Beatrice tries to awaken her cousin and fears that she is dead.  Leonato prays that she is dead, for he believes that if she lives she will be forever tainted with shame.  Beatrice says that although she did not sleep in the same room as Hero last night, she is sure of her cousins innocence.  Friar Francis agrees with Beatrice.  He says that when Claudio accused Hero, she was shocked and aghast, not red-faced with hidden shame.  Leonato swears to condemn Hero if the princes story is true and kill them if it is false.
Friar Francis comes up with an imaginative solution to Heros problem.  He suggests that a public decree be published stating that Hero died exactly at the moment Claudio accused her, although she is really alive.  The friar believes that once Claudio learns that his love is dead, contempt will change into remorse and he will mourn and love her more than ever.  Benedick agrees to fight with Don Pedro and Claudio over Heros honour.  Beatrice, who has been crying with grief all this time for her cousin, tells Benedick that a noble man would avenge Heros shame.  They both confess their love for each other; however, Beatrice will not marry Benedick until the truth about Hero is learned.  Benedick swears to seek out Claudio and attack him for his malice.