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All’s Well That Ends Well

Overview   Complete Text   Synopsis    Characters/Settings    Themes   Famous Quotes    Essay Questions/Topics

Overview


Considered one of Shakespeare’s three problem

plays (where the heroes’ and heroines’

characters are imperfect (Measure for Measure

and Troilus and Cressida are the other two

plays)), All’s Well That Ends Well is what today,

ight be called a romantic comedy (similar in tone

and plot themes to the films, Friends with Benefits, The Backup Plan, or Sleepless in Seattle). The play was based on one of the 100 stories in Boccaccio’s The Decameron written between 1349 and 1353.


Bertram, the Count of Roussillon, mistreats and dismisses Helena, the woman who loves him considering her unworthy of him because of her lower social status.


For her part, Helena relies on trickery to win over Bertram’s affections instead of relying on her intelligence and beauty.


In the end, Bertram relents and accepts his love for Helena, but his earnestness remains in doubt.


Referring to the fact that it is not so much what transpires during an event as it is how the event concludes, the title is taken from a line in the play, spoken by Helena in Act IV, Scene 4:


All’s well that ends well; still the fine’s the crown;

Whate’er the course, the end is the renown.


Some scholars consider the flawed heroes and abrupt plot resolution indicative that this was one of Shakespeare’s lesser works. Other critics instead see the play as a satirical social commentary on the foibles of elitism and snobbery.



All’s Well That Ends Well

Comedy

Written 1602

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