I was reading through Act 2 Scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing and I found the below rather difficult to interpret as I am stuck between two meanings.

LEONATO: Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

BEATRICE: I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight.

I assumed that Leonato was being sarcastic and complimenting Beatrice for the way she talked about death, etc and in response, Beatrice was agreeing with him by saying she was has a good eye (she can view things well). However, Leonato could instead be calling her remarks as blasphemy and Beatrice responds by saying she is only joking and that she can see a church as well as anyone.

So I'm just wondering which one is more accurate or is there another way to interpret this text?


Beatrice has just been speaking very satirically and at great length against marriage. This rather annoys Leonato, who is in the middle of trying to marry his daughter to the Prince, so he responds with a backhanded compliment: "you apprehend very shrewdly" can be taken to mean both "you perceive very acutely" and "you treat the world very abusively". Beatrice shrugs this off, saying that her perception is no keener than is needed to see a very large building in daylight—that is, "I can see what's right in front of me".

  • Yes, +1. And at the time, not only a large building, but almost universally the tallest and most prominent building in town. – Dan Bron Nov 4 '18 at 23:10

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