Unlocking the Wit and Wisdom: Top 10 Don John Quotes

Don John is a character from William Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing.” Here are some exact quotes from the character:

Who is Don John?

There is a dark character named Don John who causes trouble in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” He is the one who can’t stand to see other people happy because he is angry at his real brother, Don Pedro, and the happy people around him. He plans to ruin Claudio and Hero’s relationship because he is angry and feels like a stranger. He does this to bring others down to his level of sadness.

“Much ado about nothing, “Top 10 Don John quotes.

1. “I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace, and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any.” (Act I, Scene III)


This line encapsulates Don John’s embrace of his role as the piece’s villain. He is aware that no one loves him, but he chooses to accept this as it is instead of lying or changing his ways to win their love. Don John is a classic example of a self-aware bad guy.

Instead of trying to please everyone, he accepts his true self without looking for support. He sees this as a rejection of normalcy and an acceptance of the fact that he is different. Here, he shows that he is aware of his nonconformist habits and doesn’t want to act nice just to fit in.

2. “It must not be denied, but I am a plain-dealing villain.” (Act I, Scene III)


Don John openly admits to his nature as a villain. He acknowledges that he is straightforward in his malevolence, unlike other deceitful characters who may hide their true intentions. This moment of self-awareness is a rare instance of honesty from Don John, as he does not pretend to be honorable or good-hearted.

His use of “plain-dealing” is an ironic twist; where the term typically signifies honesty in one’s dealings, Don John uses it to assert his transparent villainy. He tells the crowd that he is evil and that no one should be surprised by his actions.

3. “I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody marks you.” (Act I, Scene I)


Don John expresses his scornful amusement at Benedick’s persistent chatter, suggesting that Benedick speaks even though no one pays attention to him. The line “I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody marks you” is Don John’s sardonic way of belittling Benedick, implying that what Benedick says is of no consequence or interest. It highlights Don John’s negative outlook on life and his disrespectful treatment of others, particularly those who are well-liked or content, which contrasts sharply with his own melancholic and irritable nature. This line also shows how Don John separates himself from the social camaraderie that defines the interactions of other characters in the play.

4. “Let me be that I am and seek not to alter me.” (Act I, Scene III)


This line shows that Don John is okay with the way he is and doesn’t want to change for other people. It is clear from the play that Don John sees himself as a bad guy and doesn’t give in to society’s standards or push to change or get better. This comment from him shows that he wants to stay true to himself, no matter how other people see him or want him to act.

This line could be a comment on the theme of identity and how social standards can be hard to deal with. Shakespeare often wrote about how complicated people are when they have to choose between their inner nature and pressures from the outside world. In Don John’s case, not changing himself could be seen as an acceptance of how bad he was and a rejection of the social rules that tell people to put on a good front or change their less acceptable traits.

It’s also possible to look at this quote in the context of Elizabethan society, where public personas were often more important than their true selves. So, Don John’s comment could be seen as an act of defiance against these social rules, showing that he is unique in a world that wants everyone to fit in.

5. “If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime let me be that I am and seek not to alter me.” (Act I, Scene III)


This quote shows what kind of person Don John is and how he acts in the play. As a sad person born under the sign of Saturn, Don John has a nature that is always dark and constant. Other characters in the play are very lively and active, which makes this stand out. The fact that he would rather be honest about how unpleasant he is than try to be nice shows that he is both sad and bad.​

​.Don John is upset about his life and the fact that he is Don Pedro’s idiotic brother in this scene. Even though he just lost and has to deal with his brother’s kindness, he is determined to keep his bad mood. Because of this, he sees a chance to make things difficult for Claudio, who is respected for wrongdoings against him, and his brother Don Pedro. Don John wants to throw a wrench in Hero and Claudio’s marriage, not because he is bad, but because he wants to get back at Claudio and, by extension, Don Pedro.​

​.This quote shows that Don John wants to be independent and doesn’t like how limited his life is. He says that he would indulge his urges (to “bite” and “do his liking”) if he were free to do so. He does bad things all through the play because he doesn’t have any freedom and is angry at the people who have hurt him and limited him. Characteristically and logically, Don John is complicated. He has a sad mood and wants to take action against those who have hurt him.

6. “I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause and smile at no man’s jests, eat when I have stomach and wait for no man’s leisure, sleep when I am drowsy and tend on no man’s business, laugh when I am merry and claw no man in his humor.” (Act I, Scene III)


However, considering the context of the play and the character of Don John, it’s clear that this quote reveals his honest recognition of his true nature. Don John, as the “villain” of the play, openly expresses his desire to follow his feelings and inclinations, disregarding societal expectations or pretenses. This quote showcases his straightforward, albeit pessimistic, outlook on life and his interactions with others..

7. “I am a villain. I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore, I have decreed not to sing in my cage.” (Act I, Scene III)


This quote is a succinct reflection of Don John’s character — he’s a man whom his society has marginalized, and instead of fighting this designation, he chooses to embody it fully. He sees no reason to act against his nature to appease others, and this attitude sets the stage for the actions he will undertake throughout the play. Don John’s quote reveals his malicious independence and his resolve to act according to his own rules, even if it means playing the part of the villain in the “cage” he finds himself in.

Don John is known for his sardonic wit and bitter view of the world, which is evident in his lines. He is the play’s antagonist, whose machinations create much of the conflict that drives the plot.

8. “Whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?” (Act II, Scene II)


This quote highlights Don John’s manipulative and destructive nature. He is actively looking for ways to cause trouble and enlisting others in his cause to create chaos and misery for those he envies or dislikes. The marriage between Claudio and Hero is a particular point of contention for him, and he sees its disruption as a means of creating discord and gaining revenge against those he feels have wronged him.

9. “Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be medicinable to me.” (Act II, Scene II) –


This quote shows his strong desire to disrupt the happiness and plans of others, especially Claudio and Don Pedro. Don John is constantly scheming against Claudio and Don Pedro, taking pleasure in any chance to cause chaos or misfortune for them. It seems like he’s always ready to turn any obstacle or challenge into an opportunity to advance his plans and settle scores.

10. “I will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be absent.” (Act II, Scene II)

Explanation: Don John plots how he will deceive Claudio into thinking that Hero has been unfaithful. Remember that understanding these quotes in the context of the play is essential. Don John’s character is all about deceit and creating trouble. His words often carry a double meaning or an underlying intention to disrupt the happiness of the other characters.

The top ten characteristics of Don John from Shakespeare’s Play

Here are some crucial points regarding Don John’s character in the play “Much Ado Nothing.”

  1. Bastard Brother: Don John is introduced as the “bastard brother” of the noble Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon. His illegitimate status is a source of his bitterness and resentment, which fuels his malicious actions throughout the play.
  2. Symbol of Envy and Malice: His character embodies envy and malice, and he takes every opportunity to undermine the happiness of those around him, particularly his brother Don Pedro and the play’s romantic leads, Claudio and Hero.
  3. Machiavellian Schemer: Don John is cunning and manipulative, orchestrating schemes to deceive other characters and ruin their relationships. His machinations are pivotal to the plot, creating the central conflict.
  4. Contrast to Other Characters: His dark, sullen demeanor stands in stark contrast to the play’s otherwise lighthearted and comedic tone. This juxtaposition emphasizes the disruptive nature of his character.
  5. Motivated by Jealousy: His actions are motivated by jealousy and a sense of injustice over his social position. Don John is sardonic and brooding, unlike the other characters who engage in witty banter and merrymaking.
  6. Represents Dishonesty: In a play that heavily features themes of misunderstanding, deception, and the importance of honor, Don John represents dishonesty and the deliberate sowing of falsehood.
  7. Isolation: Don John’s character is isolated from the other characters emotionally and often physically, reflecting his status as an outsider and his inability to partake in the communal joy of the other characters.
  8. Agent of Chaos: He delights in causing chaos and unhappiness, as seen when he tricks Claudio into believing that Hero has been unfaithful, which almost leads to her complete social ruin.
  9. Unapologetic Villainy: Unlike many of Shakespeare’s more complex villains, Don John is straightforward in his villainy, admitting, “I am a plain-dealing villain.” He does not disguise his nature, which is refreshingly honest amid a plot of disguises and misunderstandings.
  10. Foiled Plans and Downfall: His plans are eventually unveiled, leading to his arrest and the restoration of order, but not before he causes significant distress and nearly irreversible damage to the other characters’ lives.

Don John’s presence in “Much Ado About Nothing” catalyzes the play’s central conflicts and its exploration of themes such as honor, deception, and the potential for redemption.


  • Nora J. Wilson

    Say hello to Nora J. Wilson, a spirited blogger whose heart beats for storytelling and connection. Nora J. Wilson is the owner and chief editor of Readingszone.com. Hailing from the vibrant streets of Brooklyn, Nora brings to life the pages of her blog with a degree in English Literature from Yale University. Contact her via e-mail norajwilson101@gmail.com

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