All's Well that Ends Well

Definition

Theater

  • A comedy by Shakespeare, first performed c. 1602 - 04.Owing to its sombre introspective quality, the play is traditionally classedwith Shakespeare's 'dark comedies' or 'problem plays'. It has only 14 speakingparts, making it, with Twelfth Night, the Bard's least populated play.

    The plot is based on a tale in Boccaccio's Decameron.The King of France is cured of a mystery illness by a physician'sdaughter, Helena. As a reward, he offers her any bachelorof the court as her husband. She chooses the arrogant Bertram,who, regarding her as beneath him, runs away to the wars. Later hewrites tauntingly that he will wed Helena only when she obtains thering from his finger and has his child. She travels to Florence andasks Diana, whom Bertram has pursued, to pretend to submit to him.In the dark, Helena replaces Diana in bed and successfully entreatsBertram to give her his ring. When Bertram returns to Paris, the kinghas him arrested, believing that he has killed Helena. In the play'slast moments the pregnant Helena arrives wearing Bertram's ring, soall apparently ends well. Other notable characters include the Countess of Roussillion - one of Shakespeare's best roles for the older woman - and the braggart Parolles.

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