In The Church
[Friar Francis is lighting the candles in the church when Leonato and Claudio enters.]
LEONATO: [speaking to Claudio]
Nicely done, Claudio. I believe your words on yesterday has appeased my daughter’s spirit and restored her honor. Even though the burden of her death is still with me, I must go on living. In the meantime I’ll get down to business. Claudio, are you still interested in marrying my lovely niece?
CLAUDIO: Yes, my lord. Even though she cannot replace Hero, I am still interested.
Splendid. [Leonato turns to Friar Francis.] Did you hear that Friar? There’s going to be a wedding this morning. Prepare yourself, while I go retrieve my niece and some witnesses.
FRIAR FRANCIS: [The Friar walks over to Leonato’s left side.]
Yes, my lord. It is a good day for a marriage.
[While facing Claudio, the Friar points to the altar.]
Right this way Claudio.
CLAUDIO: [speaks to the masked Hero]
Come take my hand, masked lady, in front of the friar and these good people.
[Hero dutifully walks over to the altar and takes Claudio’s hand, while the rest of the guest take their seats.]
And say that you will have me for your husband.
HERO: [looks up into Claudio’s eyes, laughed and snatched her hand abruptly away]
Are you serious? To be my husband, I think not.
[Hero starts walking away from Claudio as Leonatoand the rest of the witnesses look on in shock.]
CLAUDIO: [quickly grabs Hero’s right arm to detain her and looks at Leonato.]
What is the meaning of this? [Without waiting for a reply, Claudio looks at Hero for an answer.] Why not?
[Hero speaks up first.]
Why not? I’ll show you why not. [Hero quickly snatched her mask off and looks Claudio directly in the eye.] This is why not.
[Claudio’s mouth dropped open in stun disbelief.]
Now that you know the woman behind the mask, do you honestly think I will marry you? After what you put me through. Ruined my good name, having my father wish me dead, and discover that my groom is insecure for canceling my marriage due to false information. I think not. And stop looking at me look that. Do you honestly believe that a person can die from fainting? [She sneers.] Please!!
CLAUDIO: [stammers as he comes to his senses.]
W-why did you c-come here t-today, if you were not going to marry me?
At first dear Claudio, I was willing to forgive you for ruining my reputation and honor out of respect for my father. But as I proceeded to walk toward the church my pride took over. My pride as a woman will not allow me to marry a man who ruined my good name based on false information, without seeking justice first. [Hero directs her attention to her father and the rest of the congregation.] Besides my cousin, Beatrice and Friar Francis, no one came to my defense. Not even my own father, who knew me the most, came to my defense.
[Leonato’s face is redden from shame and his voiceis broken up when he speaks.]
LEONATO: I’m s-so sorry, Hero. After I discover the truth, I try to make things right.
Try to make things right! You did not even come to my defense when another man, [pointing to Claudio] in fact this man, ruins my reputation and honor. In addition, you wanted me dead based on false allegation. So, I wonder. How is marrying my accuser making things right? Is it to erase your or Claudio’s guilt? Is to save face? Or did you truly care about me and wanted me to marry a good man? You, [looking directly into Leonato’s face.] father, and Claudio’s motivation to marry me are questionable.
FRIAR FRANCIS: [speaks up]
Hold, Hero. I understand your reasons for wanting revenge, but what will make things right.
HERO: Let me see.
[She paces in front of the congregation and Claudio for a few minutes then speaks.]
I want to be sure that Claudio loves me. I want the right to deal out punishment for the people who caused this unpleasantness and ruined my honor. I want a public announcement that will restore my honor as a respectable and proper woman. And finally, I want Beatrice and Benedick to be married with me.
FRIAR FRANCIS: [dresses the congregation.]
Does anyone have an issue with Hero’s demands?
LEONATO: [he stands up]
Your demands to restore your honor are acceptable to me. It is done. [Looking at Beatrice and Benedick.] It is up to them if they want to get married. [Now, looking at Claudio.] And I do agree with my daughter that you, Claudio needs to display your love for her.
I am not going to marry a man on demand.
BENEDICK: [gently reaches Beatrice left hand] What about for love?
BEATRICE: [ponders the question for a moment.] Aye, I will marry a man for love only.
BENEDICK: For love, will you marry me?
BEATRICE: Are you asking?
BEATRICE: Then, yes.
[Benedick takes Beatrice in his arms and passionately kiss her. A few minutes later, Friar Francis interrupts the couple for the business at hand.]
Excuse me, Benedick and Beatrice. Before I can marry anyone, we need to hear from Claudio. What say you, Claudio?
CLAUDIO: [steps up to Hero and takes her hand]
I am truly sorry Hero for jumping to the wrong conclusion and hurting you. How can I prove my undying love for you?
By answering these questions. When was the first moment you decided that you wanted to marry me? If my father had disowned me, would you have married? If I were poor and homeless would you still marry me? If I decided to give up my inheritance right now, would you marry me? And would you be willing to marry for a year without intercourse, to prove your love to me? What say you, Claudio?
I first fell in love with you soon after I return from the war. I was so scare and shy to talk to you in person that I had Don Pedro to dress up like me during the party so he could talk to you. When I discovered that you were willing to be my wife I was extremely happy. I guess I was too happy with your decision that I was temped by my own insecurities and false information to ruin my upcoming marriage with you. [Claudio gets down on bended knee.] Please, Hero, forgive me for my insecurities, my wrong conclusions, and my actions that ruined your good name in this country. I am truly in love with you, that when I came to my senses and discovered that you died, I was devastated. I even wrote and sung an epitaph at your gravesite, your father and the Prince can testify on that. I am truly glad that you are standing here today. I am willing to do whatever and however long to prove my love to you. I love you so much that I would marry you, if you were penniless. Yes, I am even willing to forego my husbandly duties for a year. Please marry me, Hero. When it comes to you, I have no pride. I am on my knees begging for your forgiveness and for your hand in marriage. So, please marry me.
BEATRICE: [boldly speaks up]
Come on cousin, put Claudio out of his misery. We all can see that he loves you. You have proven your case. Don’t be like me and be so blinded by hate or revenge that you miss out on love. Snatch it while you still can. Let’s get married.
HERO: [pulls Claudio to his feet.]
Thank you. Your words and demonstrations have put my heart and pride at ease. Friar Francis, I am ready to get married now. Let’s begin.
FRIAR FRANCIS: [looks up to the roof and say a silent prayer.] Finally.
[Looking at each individual couple.] If you are ready couples, come to the altar.
[Each couple came to the altar holding hands. Friar Francis married Beatrice, Benedick, Hero and Claudio. After the wedding ceremony, the two couples dances the night away. They lived happily ever after since then.]