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Free Study Guide-All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare-Free Notes
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SCENE SUMMARY WITH NOTES

ACT IV, SCENE 4

Summary

In Florence, Helena thanks the widow for her help and assures her she will be greatly rewarded for it. Turning to Diana, Helena tells her she must do a little more on her behalf, and Diana replies she will do anything to help Helena bring Bertram down to size, because she herself thinks his actions have been despicable. The scene comes to an end with Helena musing that time will heal all the wounds suffered on her behalf, uttering the title words that all is well that ends well.

Notes

At this point in the play, chaos reigns. Helena is supposed to be dead, Bertram is poised to spoil Diana's chastity, and Parolles is tricked into revealing his base character. The confident Helena believes that the greater plan at work will more than justify all the confusion. All will be well when it ends well. This theme is not only the title of the play, it is also at the very heart of the action, for throughout the play the ends justify the means.


ACT IV, SCENE 5

Summary

The Countess enters Rousillon with Lafeu and the clown. Lafeu insists that Parolles has been responsible for leading Bertram astray. He tells the Countess that her daughter-in-law Helena would be alive were it not for the interference of the "red-tailed humble-bee". The Countess mourns the death of Helena and praises her as the "most virtuous gentlewoman" ever born. Lafeu then informs the Countess that since hearing the news of Helena's death and Bertram's return to France, he has spoken to the King about offering his own daughter as Bertram's second wife. Lafeu says that the King himself had proposed the match, when both his daughter and Bertram were children. The Countess agrees to the marriage, hoping this will make things well again. Lafeu tells her the King is coming from Marseilles and will arrive the next day, as will Bertram. They decide to propose the marriage sometime after that.

Notes

In this scene, Lafeu blames Parolles for misleading Bertram and describes him as "a snipped - taffeta fellow ... whose villainous saffron would have made all the unbak'd and doughy youth of a nation in his color". Interestingly enough, the Countess and Lafeu have already devised a plan to forgive Bertram and reinstate him to good graces. Lafeu's daughter will be offered as a bride to Bertram, since his first wife is supposedly dead. At the same time, they place nearly all the blame on Parolles' bad influence. In essence, Parolles must pay for his poor moral character, but it almost seems as if Bertram will get away with his.

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Free Study Guide-All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare-Free Notes
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