William Shakespeare's Works/Comedies/All's Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Ends Well


This play concerns a maid, Helena, who cures the King of France of a disease, then asks for Lord Bertram's hand in marriage. Bertram obliges, then quickly flees to Italy to engage in war, hoping for death to avoid marriage. Helena is greatly hurt, and sets out on a pilgrimage, only to wind up in Florence, Italy, where she meets Bertram's new young mistress, Diana. In a perplexing "bed trick," Helena sleeps with Bertram, while Bertram believes he is sleeping with Diana. This act secures Helena's bond to Bertram, and Bertram, matured by war, consents to happily love Helena and their future child. Other characters include Lafew (Lafeu), a wise old lord; Parolles, an obsessive liar and follower of Bertram; the Countess, the mother of Bertram and stepmother of Helena; the Clown, a witty servant to the Countess; and a Widow, the mother of Diana.