There are suitors at my door

Shakespeare, at heart, was a feminist. I couldn’t have said it better.

SCENE I. A hall in LEONATO’S house.

Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and others

LEONATO

Was not Count John here at supper?

ANTONIO

I saw him not.

BEATRICE

How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see

him but I am heart-burned an hour after.

HERO

He is of a very melancholy disposition.

BEATRICE

He were an excellent man that were made just in the

midway between him and Benedick: the one is too

like an image and says nothing, and the other too

like my lady’s eldest son, evermore tattling.

LEONATO

Then half Signior Benedick’s tongue in Count John’s

mouth, and half Count John’s melancholy in Signior

Benedick’s face,–

BEATRICE

With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money

enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman

in the world, if a’ could get her good-will.

LEONATO

By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a

husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.

ANTONIO

In faith, she’s too curst.

BEATRICE

Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God’s

sending that way; for it is said, ‘God sends a curst

cow short horns;’ but to a cow too curst he sends none.

LEONATO

So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns.

BEATRICE

Just, if he send me no husband; for the which

blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and

evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a

beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.

LEONATO

You may light on a husband that hath no beard.

BEATRICE

What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel

and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a

beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no

beard is less than a man: and he that is more than

a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a

man, I am not for him: therefore, I will even take

sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his

apes into hell.

LEONATO

Well, then, go you into hell?

BEATRICE

No, but to the gate; and there will the devil meet

me, like an old cuckold, with horns on his head, and

say ‘Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to

heaven; here’s no place for you maids:’ so deliver

I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter for the

heavens; he shows me where the bachelors sit, and

there live we as merry as the day is long.

ANTONIO

[To HERO] Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled

by your father.

BEATRICE

Yes, faith; it is my cousin’s duty to make curtsy

and say ‘Father, as it please you.’ But yet for all

that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else

make another curtsy and say ‘Father, as it please

me.’

LEONATO

Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.

BEATRICE

Not till God make men of some other metal than

earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be

overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust? to make

an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?

No, uncle, I’ll none: Adam’s sons are my brethren;

and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.

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