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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.

Was this gentlewoman the daughter of Gerard de Narbon?

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Lafew
—Was this gentlewoman
the daughter of Gerard de Narbon?

Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead,
excessive grief the enemy to the living

Countess
His sole child, my lord, and bequeathed to
my overlooking.Ellipsis
I have those hopes of her good
that her education promises.
… continue reading this quote

Be thou blessed, Bertram

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Countess 
Be thou blessed, Bertram, and succeed thy father
In manners as in shape. Thy blood and virtue
Contend for empire in thee, and thy goodness
Share with thy birthright.

Love all, trust a few,
Do wrong to none

Love all, trust a few,
Do wrong to noneIsocolon
.
… continue reading this quote

Act 1
Scene 1
Line 63

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Farewell, pretty lady

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Lafew
Farewell, pretty lady. You must hold the credit
of your father. Bertram and Lafew exit.
Helen
O, were that all! I think not on my father,
And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for him. What was he like?
I have forgot him.

Th’ ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
The hind that would be mated by the lion
Must die for love.
… continue reading this quote

Act 1
Scene 1
Line 83

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Are you meditating on virginity?

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Parolles
Are you meditating on virginity?
Helen
Ay. You have some stain of soldier in you; let
me ask you a question. Man is enemy to virginity.
How may we barricado it against him?
Parolles
Keep him out.
Helen
But he assails, and our virginity, though
valiant in the defense,
… continue reading this quote

Act 1
Scene 1
Line 115

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Little Helen, farewell

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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.

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
… continue reading this quote

I would I had that corporal soundness now

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King 
I would I had that corporal soundness now
As when thy father and myself in friendship
First tried our soldiership. He did look far
Into the service of the time and was
Discipled of the bravest. He lasted long,
But on us both did haggish age steal on
And wore us out of act.

Methinks I hear him now;
… continue reading this quote

Act 1
Scene 2
Line 30

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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.

for young Charbon the Puritan and old
Poysam the Papist, howsome’er their hearts are
severed in religion, their heads are both one

Fool
You’re shallow,
… continue reading this quote

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.

I know I love in vain, strive against hope,
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love

Countess
Nay, a mother.
Why not a mother? When I said “a mother,”
Methought you saw a serpent.
… continue reading this quote

Act 1
Scene 3
Line 140

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But, my good lord, ’tis thus

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Lafew
But, my good lord, ’tis thus: will you be cured
Of your infirmity?
King
No.

I have seen a medicine
That’s able to breathe life into a stone,
Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary
With sprightly fire and motion

Lafew
O, will you eat
No grapes,
… continue reading this quote

Act 2
Scene 1
Line 77

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We thank you, maiden

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King
We thank you, maiden,
But may not be so credulous of cure,
When our most learnèd doctors leave us and
The congregated college have concluded
That laboring art can never ransom nature
From her inaidible estate. I say we must not
So stain our judgment or corrupt our hope
To prostitute our past-cure malady
To empirics,
… continue reading this quote

Act 2
Scene 1
Line 132

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