Beatrice, one of the main characters in the play, she is also one of the most famous and loved Shakespeare’s female character. She is a niece of Leonato and Hero’s cousin.
Beatrice is a woman who besides a great, warm heart, has a very sharp tongue as well as the witty and cynical sense of humour. From the very beginning, she is depicted as a beautiful, strong and independent female character who claims that would never get married. She is aware of the fact that she has not yet found a proper partner for herself and that she is not ready to give up her own freedom for a husband. Beatrice constantly makes jokes and puns of other people and she keeps up a “merry war” of jokes with Benedick, with whom she used to have a love relationship in the past.
She seems to enjoy the conflict between her and Benedick so much that does not realize the existence of an affection between them. For the great part of the play, Beatrice stays cool and witty, but her other nature shows itself very clearly when Hero is slandered and left at the altar. She is furious at Claudio for treating her cousin in such humiliating way, does not believe in Hero’s guilt and demands Benedick to defend Hero’s honour. She even claims that if she was a man, she alone would kill Claudio for his cruelty towards her cousin.
Also, when she hears about Benedick’s feeling of love for her, she herself is ready to love him in return. She opens her own heart for him and in return receives a great amount of love and happiness. At the end, she even actually gets married, proving that love can change one’s mind. Leonato’s daughter Hero is a complete opposite of her cousin Beatrice. Hero is a pleasant, kind, elegant and nice young woman. Quiet and rather shy, she is attracted to Claudio who wants to marry her and she seems to be truly happy about that. When on her wedding day she is left at the altar and accused of being unfaithful she does not even defend herself. Her sweet nature does not allow to point out the fact that her fiance was mistaken in the past and now, at the altar, he accused her of sexual looseness and does not even give her a chance to speak.
Hero’s ability for forgiveness is great as well. After being dishonoured she needs to hide and pretend to be dead. In spite of being slandered, she decides to marry Claudio as soon as her name is cleared. Claudio is a young soldier who has just turned out to be a great fighter battling under Don Pedro.
He quickly falls in love with beautiful Hero when he visits her father’s home. Claudio is extremely hasty and suspicious. He is very likely to believe any rumours and his impulsive nature gives him a lot of troubles. Firstly, he believes that Don Pedro would be able to betray him, lie and break his promise of helping Claudio. It is quite alarming to see how easy it is for the soldier to believe that he might be betrayed.
Secondly, convinced that the woman who he is supposed to take for his wife is cheating on him, he decides not only break her heart but also humiliate her at the altar, in front of her friends and family. He cannot simply leave without the revenge, he acts in a rush and because of that he almost destroys his chance for happiness.Benedick, as well as Claudio, is a great soldier fighting under Don Pedro. He is described as a witty young man who always plays jokes. Just like Beatrice, he swears never to get married and fall in love and just like her he seems not to notice the feeling between them. Benedick is being tricked by his friends and eavesdrops that Beatrice is secretly in love with him.
He also hears that he would be considered a fool if he turned away such an excellent woman as Beatrice. At this point, Benedick changes his attitude towards the woman as he decides to love her back. He is also ready to leave his bachelor life behind and marry beautiful Beatrice.
He appears as a very loyal man; firstly he was attached to his friends, Don Pedro and Claudio, but when in love, he is completely devoted to his woman and even decides to duel his best friend Claudio. Benedick character changes. At the beginning, he is depicted as a strong, manly warrior and during the play he is transforming into a devoted lover, ready to confess his feelings and writing poems for his loved one.The most elusive character in the play, Don Pedro is an incredibly powerful and noble man. Though equally witty as Benedick, he more often needs to be careful about his words due to the position he is taking in the social hierarchy. He tends to manipulate other characters however he likes.
He is the one who proposes to court Hero for Claudio and comes up with the idea of bringing Beatrice and Benedick together. His intentions are always pure and he wants nothing more than for his friends to be happy, though it seems that whatever he decides must be done, and he cannot be questioned. Don Pedro’s sadness at the end of the play is not clear. Perhaps it is connected to the fact that he is the only one who remains alone. Although he proposes to Beatrice at the masked ball she rejects him. This anxiety about his figure makes him be one of the fascinating characters in the play. Leonato, the younger brother of Antonio, is a host of the house in Messina, Italy, where the play takes its place. He hires Balthasar, who is a waiting man in his house and a musician.
Leonato is well respected, noble elderly. Thanks to his position as the governor he is second in social hierarchy and power, just behind Don Pedro. Although he is a powerful man he seems to follow others. First, he agrees when hears a rumour that Don Pedro wants to take his daughter as his wife. When that turns out to be untrue he approves her marriage with Claudio. When Hero is being accused of disloyalty he believes the accusers. He is also happy hearing about Beatrice and Benedick marriage and at the end, he is comfortable to wait for the next day to punish of the culprits. Don John, occasionally called “the bastard” due to being an illegitimate brother of Don Pedro.
Motivated by the jealousy of his brother’s power, social authority and position Don John is the villain of the play. He creates the plan to ruin Hero and Claudio’s joy, as he envies that Claudio is well respected, a good friend of Don Pedro. When his plan of sabotage the wedding succeed he runs away leaving his companions behind. Justice reaches him anyway as he is caught when his cruel plan is exposed.Borachio and Conrad are Don John allies. They conspire with him in order to help to destroy Claudio’s chance for happiness.
Borachio is the one who comes up with the idea of convincing Claudio about Hero’s unfaithfulness. Margaret and Ursula are Hero’s servants. Margaret, unlike Ursula, is a lower class woman. She is unwillingly entitled to Don John and Borachio’s plan to ruin Hero’s happiness and good name. Although honest, she has a connection with Don John’s world by having an affair with one of his friend – Borachio. Dogberry is a character constantly in charge of the Watch, the policeman of Messina.
He is an honest man who treats his job very seriously. He is a middle-class character who quite often uses words in the wrong way what makes him incomprehensible for other people. He works with his deputy, Verges.