Title: All’s Well That Ends Well
Author: William Shakespeare
Number of Pages: 192
Rating: 4 out of 5 bookmarks
All’s Well that Ends Well is a quasi-comedy of Shakespeare’s. I say quasi-comedy because, although it technically has a happy ending, the tone is definitely not keeping in line with the comic gener, especially Shakespeare’s comdey. The story is of the young maiden Helena. Helena’s father, a physician for the Count Rossillion, has just died and the King is ill. Helena goes to court to cure the king with a special sure her father possessed. At this same time, the Countess’s son Bertram (whose father has also just died) goes to court to enlist in the service of the king. When Helena cures the King, the king tells her to pick whomever she desires as a husband. Of course, Helena is in love with Bertram, and she picks Bertram for the kings offer. However, Bertram can’t stand Helenaso he goes away to war without consummating the marriage. Helena, realizing that he’s run away from her, follows him. Bertram has written Helena a letter saying he will only return to her when she can get the family ring off his finger (hard when he’s far away at war) and is pregnant with his child (hard when you haven’t slept together). Helena, with the help of her friend Diana, tricks Bertram at night and gets him to sleep with her and give her the ring from his finger. In the end, Bertram is still with Helena, Helena is pregnant with his child, and alls well that ends well.
I found Helena INCREDIBLY annoying. Like, really, really annoying. So much so that I wrote an entire paper about it for my Shakespeare class. First of all, she is ridiculously manipulative. Secondly, she’s headstrong to a fault. I don’t know how many times Bertram tells Helena that she wants nothing to do with her, but she just won’t take the hint. Furthermore, she goes through great lengths to force Bertram in to being with her. Its entrapment. I know quite a few people who disagree, who see Bertram as a foolish boy who is deliberately avoiding his responsibilities. However, I see him as an unfortunate man with his back against the wall and nowhere to go but into a marriage that he hates or run to a war he doesn’t particularly care to fight. It’s frustrating to watch him do all he can to deliver the message to a girl that refuses to hear it. True, a lot of times we champion the woman who knows what she wants and pursues her goals to whatever end possible. However, in the case of love, or, in the case of Helena’s love for Bertram, sometimes too much is too much. The only positive thing about the play was its explorations of questions about marriage, love, and what it takes to make a person recognize their faults. I would definitely recommend the play, but don’t necessarily expect that happiest of happy endings! Happy reading!