Alls Well That Ends Well [with Biographical Introduction]

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In-depth summary and analysis of every scene of All's Well that Ends Well. Explanations, analysis, and visualizations of All's Well that Ends Well 's themes. All's Well that Ends Well 's important quotes, sortable by theme, character, or scene. Description, analysis, and timelines for All's Well that Ends Well 's characters.

Explanations of All's Well that Ends Well 's symbols, and tracking of where they appear. An interactive data visualization of All's Well that Ends Well 's plot and themes. Brief Biography of William Shakespeare Shakespeare's father was a glove-maker, and Shakespeare received no more than a grammar school education. He married Anne Hathaway in , but left his family behind around and moved to London, where he became an actor and playwright. He was an immediate success: Shakespeare soon became the most popular playwright of the day as well as a part-owner of the Globe Theater.

His theater troupe was adopted by King James as the King's Men in As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance. Details of this famous quote follow, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that this quotation can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

All's Well That Ends Well - Wikipedia

Picture - A scene from All's Well. William Shakespeare Site Map. To bastardize a line from Shakespeare's M4M to fit my cause and purpose: Hell, movies today show we are no different. We don't want ambiguity too much. We want a hero who gets the girl. I'll give you a nominal hero who in reality is a real dick and feed him per request to the girl. She will get what she wants in the end and the audience will get what they essentially keep demanding in the end. And the result will be bitter. To again paraphrase H. Mencken who was talking about voters and democracy, fits also for theatre patrons.

Shakespeare knows "that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. One more point about this play. Some of my favorite lines just a brief sample: When thou hast none, remember thy friends. Mar 25, Nikos Tsentemeidis rated it it was amazing Shelves: Where can you go after writing Hamlet?

Only into the bitterest depths of irony and nihilism, apparently. Shakespeare plays one of his greatest tricks on the audience here, achieving something difficult and deeply unsatisfying, which Where can you go after writing Hamlet? See, we like Helena. Shakespeare wins our sympathy for her early and often, but he also has her fall in love with Bertram, one of the shallowest d-bags the Bard has to offer. Even so, why is this such a problem for the audience? Bertram wants nothing to do with Helena and tells her as much at regular interval. Such is life, such is love. Helena knows that Bertram is bad news: Ah, but who else can believe it?

View all 8 comments. This is the best edition f the play, and has a brilliant introduction. Helena is the first female physician ever created, and her strength, daring, and unabashed lack of self-respect where her feelings for Bertram are concerned make her a fascinating subject and a great role model in many ways.

This play was the warm-up piece for Measure for Measure in many ways, as it is where Willy worked out the infamous "bed-trick," and between the speeches of the Countess and the King, contains some of the more beautiful musings on love, youth, and age that I have ever read or heard. I think that this play has the ability to truly reach people, and if you can't come see it this summer View all 3 comments.

All's Well That Ends Well

Aug 08, Elizabeth rated it really liked it Shelves: Helen, orphaned daughter of a doctor, is under the protection of the widowed Countess of Rossillion. In love with Bertram, the countess' son, Helen follows him to court, where she cures the sick French king of an apparently fatal illness. The king rewards Helen by offering her the husband of her choice.

She names Bertram; he resists. When forced by the king to Summary: When forced by the king to marry her, he refuses to sleep with her and, accompanied by the braggart Parolles, leaves for the Italian wars.

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He says that he will only accept Helen if she obtains a ring from his finger and becomes pregnant with his child. She goes to Italy disguised as a pilgrim and suggests a 'bed trick' whereby she will take the place of Diana, a widow's daughter whom Bertram is trying to seduce. A 'kidnapping trick' humiliates the boastful Parolles, whilst the bed trick enables Helen to fulfil Bertram's conditions, leaving him no option but to marry her, to his mother's delight.

I especially enjoy a modern presentation of the work. View all 4 comments. I believe some-one who reads my reviews wanted me not to spoil this play - well I'm gonna, so stop reading now if you don't want to know any plot details! This is considered one of the "problem" play, as far as I can tell, because it doesn't really fit neatly into any of the standard genres of the period.

It certainly isn't Tragedy or History and despite having an irrelevant and silly side plot in the vein of Much Ado About Nothing or Twelfth Night, it doesn't really hold up as a Comedy in the se I believe some-one who reads my reviews wanted me not to spoil this play - well I'm gonna, so stop reading now if you don't want to know any plot details! It certainly isn't Tragedy or History and despite having an irrelevant and silly side plot in the vein of Much Ado About Nothing or Twelfth Night, it doesn't really hold up as a Comedy in the sense of those plays either.

For me at least, because everybody involved is more or less playing a manipulative game that makes them unsympathetic in my eyes.

All’s Well That Ends Well

I suppose one is supposed to root for Helen who fancies a man above her station and eventually gets him - but that man doesn't want her and she wins him by any means except gaining his affections honestly. First she gets the King to arrange the marriage, then she tricks him into impregnating her. Not really the kind of woman I appreciate.

Then the husband is status-obsessed, unable to appreciate virtue or talent and he defies the King over the marriage, which he is forced to go through with - but he's a bit hypocritical and falls for the same "bed-trick" as goes down in Measure for Measure. Eventually everything is wrapped up in a neat bow but one has to question whether there's really going to be a happily ever after in that household, given all the deceit and dislike that forms its foundation.

Heavily prose driven, the language is not that fabulous compared to the astonishing MacBeth which I read immediately previously, which just leaves the aforementioned daft subplot to amuse me. Not a great success.

View all 25 comments. Nov 21, Melora rated it liked it Shelves: Another play in which a heroine who would be admirable and appealing except for her misguided affections pursues an exceptionally unworthy love-interest with pathetic devotion. Bertram's distaste for his forced marriage is noxiously expressed, and, yet, I felt some sympathy for his feelings of repulsion for Helen's sticky, fawning devotion.

Still, in his dealings with Diana he continues to prove himself a truly loathsome fellow who thoroughly deserves a dire fate. Act IV's comic interlude with the exposure of Parolles as a fraud, though, was fun, and the play as a whole moved along well and held together nicely, even without any appealing characters.

Bertram does not love Helena. Helena saves king, King marries them. He takes up sex with virgins.

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Time for another run-through of Shakespeare's plays. I called it one of Shakespeare's worst plays, which rather shocked an academic friend of mine who is uneasy about such critical judgments. So I promised myself that this time around I wouldn't start out with such a harshly prejudicial point of view. I still hold that if y Time for another run-through of Shakespeare's plays. I still hold that if you're going to read all of Shakespeare's plays, the only sensible way of doing it is to proceed alphabetically. The chronology of the plays' composition is still unsettled, which makes that approach problematic.

You could read all the comedies together, then the histories, then the tragedies, but even there the question of which order to read them in looms. So alphabetical seems as sensible an order as any. I thought for a moment of reading them in reverse alphabetical order this time, starting with The Winter's Tale, but that would also raise the question of whether to read the Henry VI plays before Henry V, and then Henry IV, which seems sort of silly to me.

There's also the question of what edition to use. I have a couple of big one-volume editions on hand, but they're too heavy for comfortable reading. There are a lot of different paperback editions to choose from, but back in grad school I picked up several of the Arden editions in second-hand bookshops. They have introductions with critical commentary and notes on the textual sources, as well as comprehensive footnotes, a complete scholarly apparatus.

The apparatus is maybe a little too scholarly for a casual reader, but if you can avoid getting too bogged down in the footnotes -- as Samuel Johnson said of footnotes, "The mind is refrigerated by interruption" -- the type is clear and readable and the format comfortable. So I'm staying with Arden. And so, once more unto the breach.


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As it turns out, All's Well is a far more interesting play than I remembered. Maybe during my first run-through of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare I was too impatient to get to the Major Works and paid too little attention to the lesser ones. I now think that AWTEW suffers mostly from unfamiliarity, and particularly from the infrequency of productions of the play.

It is, let's face it, a damn hard play to read: You have to put in so much work mastering the vocabulary, struggling with the syntax, parsing the grammar, that it's easy to lose sight of the fact that this is essentially a script. It's meant to be performed, and if you can't encounter it in performance, you have to add the problem of staging it in your head to the problems already mentioned. It's much easier to stage a play in your head if you're already familiar with it, as most of us are with oft-performed plays like Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet or A Midsummer Night's Dream. But most of us have never encountered Bertram or Helena or Parolles on either stage or screen, so it's hard to know what to make of them at first.

Adding to the difficulty of the play's language is the strangeness of its manners and morals. The original audiences would have been less baffled or offended by such things as the "bed trick" device -- not because it was a common occurrence even then, but because it was a common plot device in stories they might have heard. And the idea that an intelligent young woman like Helena might devote herself so intently to capturing a husband like the childish and arrogant Bertram shocks us.

Shakespeare's audience would have accepted it as a plot device, not as a representation of reality. We expect realism where they would have accepted well-crafted illusion. Therefore, it's a mistake to speculate about what happens after the play ends. Bertram and Helena don't live happily ever after, but they don't live unhappily either -- because they don't live. They're creations for the two or three hours' traffic of the stage.

If Shakespeare fails in this play it's because he has raised our expectations too high: He has created characters that live and move and have their beings in our imaginations: He invented psychological realism, or as Harold Bloom has it, he invented the human -- at least as it's presented in our literature. But when he sticks such characters in a formulaic plot like that of AWTEW, they don't work -- they keep threatening to burst out of the play, and eventually they do wreck it for us.

We want to know more about Helena and Bertram than the play allows us to know. And certainly higher than the collaborative botch that is Pericles or the truncated Timon of Athens. The characters in it and the moral issues they raise are more interesting than the ones in Titus Andronicus, even though that Grand Guignol play may be more fun to read or watch. It suffers somewhat from being rather more moralistic and formulaic than the two other "problem plays" with which it is usually grouped: But if you're willing to put some work into reading and imagining AWTEW as a play, it repays the effort.

Apr 19, Melanti rated it really liked it Shelves: Not his best, by far, in terms of dialogue, but really interesting when it comes to inverting traditional gender roles and casting doubt onto common tropes of romantic comedies. I kind of think this is a more mature version of Two Gentlemen of Verona. Spoilers for both plays view spoiler [ In both you've got a crazily obsessed woman going after a man when she should have turned around and walked away. Proteus has to be stopped from raping Sil Huh. Proteus has to be stopped from raping Silvia, yet Julia still wants him badly enough she faints when she thinks he might marry Silvia instead of her.

One could even make a case that she raped her husband, since she slept with him without his consent and against his stated wishes. Why are either of these desirable matches? The modern mind boggles. In the earlier Two Gentlemen of Verona , this is all played straight and the audience is supposed to accept and applaud the couples' happily ever after. We're just supposed to overlook the scumbag's near rape of one of the women and be glad he's happily married off to the other.

But in the later All's Well that Ends Well , Shakespeare continually casts doubt onto this "happily ever after" ending. Bertram is recalcitrant until he's pinned in a corner and has to admit defeat and everyone, including the King, seems to doubt if there really IS a happy ending. If the ending is so fitting. Then in the epilogue there's "All is well ended if this suit be won, Has the suit been won?

It calls into question the traditional "let's end a play happily by marrying everyone off! It's not a "happily ever after" ending, but I found it a really satisfying one. Dec 26, Bonnie rated it liked it Shelves: I am hopelessly in love with Bertram! But he is a count and I am but a lowly physician's daughter and the ward of his mother the Countess!

Hey, the king's sick! Well, I am a physician's daughter You have cured me, Helena! I'll give you anything you want. What would that be? Well, I am king. Bertram will never be my true spouse unless I get the ring from his finger and his child in my belly! But he won't even get within eyesight of me! I am so hopelessly in love with him despite all this. Guess it's stalking time! Good thing I outran that weirdo Helena. That Diana chick is pretty hot, though. Let me pretend to be you so I can trick my husband into sleeping with me and giving me his ring.

Safe to return to France, dude. I'm so happy for you both. I am at a loss to how this was a comedy considering how very, very stupid Helena was to blindly pursue Bertram despite lack of all interest from him. Helena is supposed to be pretty awesome--the King likes her, and the Countess likes her more than her own son for pretty obvious reasons.

So why is Helena's self-worth tied to Bertram?


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