A-Z Shakespeare: All’s Well That Ends Well

“Our remedies in ourselves do lie
Which we ascribe to heaven.”

William Shakespeare

Awesomeness: 4/10


Colour: White

Date: c.1604. Probably.

Events: The King of France is mortally ill. Helen, ward of the Dowager Countess of Rousillon, thinks one of her dead father’s remedies can cure him; she travels to Paris and strikes a bargain with the King: if she cures him, he will let her marry anyone she likes. She picks Bertram, son of the Countess, who she’s grown up with and has loved for years. After their wedding, Bertram runs away to the wars, and a somewhat overwrought Helen follows him in the guise of a pilgrim. When Bertram shows an interest in Diana, maid to the woman Helen’s staying with, Helen has Diana pretend to agree to sleep with him, but takes Diana’s place at the last moment. Thinking Helen is dead, Bertram goes home and is accused by Diana, who then produces Helen; a remorseful Bertram admits her as his wife, and all’s well that ends well, apparently.

First line: “In delivering my son from me I bury a second husband.”

Genre: Comedy

High point: The end, a trial-type scene where everyone speaks in riddles and winds each other up.

Interesting fact: All’s Well That Ends Well used to be thought cursed because the actresses due to act in it kept getting ill.

Joke: “Many a man’s tongue shakes out his master’s undoing.

Killed: No-one. Boooring.

Laughed at: Lavatch the fool who amuses the Countess with his general scoundrelnosity.

Musical: Yes: Lavatch does some singing.

Number of scenes: 22 spread over five acts.

Obscurity: 7/10

Place: France and Florence

Quote: “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

Role I’d play: The Countess: she may be a minor part, but she’s practical and sympathetic and clever.

Stolen from Boccacio’s Decameron, mainly.

Time: Shakespeare’s.


Voiced in my head by: Judi Dench as the Countess.

Would I see it in a theatre? Not unless it was free. And not very far away.

X: The Tenth Line: “He that so generally is at all times good must of necessity hold his virtue to you, whose worthiness would stir it up where it wanted rather than lack it where there is such abundance.”

“Yes? Hello? What?” (The Snappy Quip): “Who cannot be crushed with a plot?”

Z: The Last Line: “Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts.”


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