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All's Well That Ends Well

Written: c. 1605-04; Text: First Folio 1623 (Comedy); no quarto editions
Source: Boccaccio's Decameron, “Beltrame de Rossiglione and Giglietta di Nerone,” as translated into English by William Painter in The Palace of Pleasure, c. 1566
Characters: Helena, Bertram, Countess of Rossillion, Fool, King of France, Parolles, Lafew, First and Second Lords
Setting: Rossillion, France – also Paris, Marseilles and Florence
Time: c. 14th century

Some critics argue that the title is ironic because, while the play seems to end happily with a marriage, modern audiences might wonder whether the marriage will end so well. They might even try to discourage Helena from marrying a cad like Bertram. Other critics argue that by Elizabethan standards Helena made a good catch, even if not a good match. So Elizabethan audiences would see no irony.

Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead

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Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the livingAlliosis, Ellipsis & Isocolon.
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 57

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Love all, trust a few

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Love all, trust a few,
Do wrong to noneIsocolon
. Be able for thine enemy
Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend
Under thy own life’s key. Be check’d for silence,
But never tax’d for speechAlliosis
.
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 66

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Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you

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Page
Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.
Parolles
Little Helen, farewell. If I can remember
thee, I will think of thee at court.
Helen
Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a
charitable star.
Parolles
Under Mars, I.Hyperbaton & Ellipsis
Helen
I especially think under Mars.
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 222

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I am out o’ friends, madam

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Fool
I am out o’ friends, madam, and I hope to have
friends for my wife’s sake.
Countess
Such friends are thine enemies, knave.
Fool
You’re shallow, madam, in great friends, for the
knaves come to do that for me which I am aweary
of. He that ears my land spares my team and gives
me leave to in the crop;
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Act 1
Scene 3
Line 40

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You know, Helen, I am a mother to you

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Countess
You know, Helen, I am a mother to you.
Helen
Mine honorable mistress.

Why not a mother? When I said “a mother,”
Methought you saw a serpent. What’s in “mother”
That you start at it?

Countess
Nay, a mother.
Why not a mother? When I said “a mother,”
Methought you saw a serpent.
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Act 1
Scene 3
Line 140

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Art thou so confident?

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King
Art thou so confident? Within what space
Hop’st thou my cure?
Helen
The greatest grace lending grace,
Ere twice the horses of the sun shall bring
Their fiery torcher his diurnal ring;
Ere twice in murk and occidental damp
Moist Hesperus hath quenched her sleepy lamp;
Or four and twenty times the pilot’s glass
Hath told the thievish minutes,
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Act 2
Scene 1
Line 177

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Know’st thou not, Bertram, What she has done for me?

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King
Know’st thou not, Bertram,
What she has done for me?
Bertram
Yes, my good lord,
But never hope to know why I should marry her.
King
Thou know’st she has raised me from my sickly bed.

If she be
All that is virtuous, save what thou dislik’st—
“A poor physician’s daughter”—thou dislik’st
Of virtue for the name.
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Act 2
Scene 3
Line 117

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There can be no kernel in this light nut

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There can be no kernel in this light nutMetaphor; the soul of this man is his clothes.
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Act 2
Scene 5
Line 44

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Till I have no wife I have nothing in France

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—Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.
Nothing in France until he has no wife.
Thou shalt have none, Rossillion, none in France.
Then hast thou all again. Poor lord, is ‘t I
That chase thee from thy country and expose
Those tender limbs of thine to the event
Of the none-sparing war? And is it I
That drive thee from the sportive court,
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Act 3
Scene 2
Line 110

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Sir, it is a charge too heavy for my strength

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Sir, it is
A charge too heavy for my strength, but yet
We’ll strive to bear it for your worthy sake
To th’ extreme edge of hazard.
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Act 3
Scene 3
Line 4

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