My professor asked me this for an assignment. It was to identify a Dante's Inferno reference in Much Ado About Nothing. I don't know what he meant by this. Where is this reference? Does not have to be a long statement, just a statement or a phrase.

  • Could you provide the text of the assignment, please? It is not completely clear what your professor is asking for. Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 8:11

1 Answer 1


There is no direct, obvious reference to Dante's Inferno in Much Ado About Nothing. However, there is a tangential link between the two works in their character and plot: both can be conceived as love stories driven by a female character called Beatrice.

Beatrice in the Inferno is based on Beatrice Portinari. Dante met her at around the age of nine and remained smitten with her, even after she married another man and then died at the age of 25. In the book, she represents Dante's ideal of womanhood, sending Dante's first guide Virgil to guide him into Hell as the first part of his journey to redeem him from sin. Beatrice eventually becomes Dante's guide herself when she reaches heaven in the third book of The Divine Comedy, Paradisio. She represents religion, grace and faith.

This can be framed as a love story because it is Beatrice's love for Dante that causes her to reach out and redeem him at no small cost to herself: it is implied she descends to hell in order to free Virgil to become Dante's first guide. And, of course, the ultimate goal of his journey is to reach the ultimate expression of love in God's love for humanity.

The love story in Much Ado About Nothing is much more straightforward of course: it's the courtship between Beatrice and Benedick which ends with their marriage. It's a very different kind of love story, of course, far more turbulent than the idealised romance of The Divine Comedy. And the Beatrice in this story is almost the opposite of Dante's character, being sharp, shrewd and rational.

Yet there is one more tantalising comparison we can make between them. In Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick makes the following speech about Beatrice:

This can be no trick: the conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady: it seems her affections have their full bent. Love me! why, it must be requited.

In Canto V of the Inferno, Dante writes:

Amor, ch'a nullo amato amar perdona

Which translates roughly as:

Love, that exempts no one beloved from loving

Both of these focus on the importance of romantic love being requited: otherwise, it is simply pining for another.


Footnotes to the Oxford World's Classics edition of Much Ado About Nothing, edited by Sheldon P. Zitner

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