Summary and Analysis Act III: Scene 5



Dogberry and Verges stop Leonato on his way to the wedding. They want to tell him about the two men they have arrested — Borachio and Conrade — and ask him to hold a hearing for their testimony. Dogberry is so long-winded that Leonato becomes impatient and tells them to take statements from the prisoners and bring them to him after the wedding. Dogberry and Verges prepare to question the prisoners at the jail.


Dogberry's belabored, convoluted way of speaking serves a dramatic purpose by so confusing Leonato that relating the information that Dogberry's men have — that a fraud has been carried out in the window scene — is postponed, allowing Don John's plot to go ahead. Consider what might have happened if Leonato, on his way to the wedding, had taken time to hear the testimony about the plot to dishonor Hero.

Notice again some of the clever (if jumbled) expressions used by Dogberry: a play on the word "marry," use of the Spanish word "palabras," and the philosophical digression beginning with "A good old man, sir." One of the most outrageous "Dogberryisms" of this scene relates to Leonato's impatient comment that Dogberry and Verges are being "tedious," which Dogberry interprets as a great compliment and then graciously returns the compliment, enhanced. Another gem of Dogberryism is his report of his men's proud action: They have comprehended two auspicious persons!