Parolles arrives in Rossillion and meets the fool. He asks the fool to give a letter to Lafew, and says that he is now “muddied in Fortune’s mood,” and does “smell somewhat strong of her strong displeasure.” The fool takes his metaphor literally, commenting that Parolles does indeed smell. The fool refuses to deliver the letter, and Lafew enters. The fool leaves.
Parolles has fallen significantly in his peers’ esteem and therefore in the hierarchy of the play’s social world. Not even the lowly fool listens to him now, refusing to deliver the letter to Lafew.
Parolles tells Lafew that he has suffered misfortune, but Lafew has little sympathy for him. Parolles tells Lafew who he is, and Lafew teases him about the drum he lost in Italy. Parolles begs him “to bring me in some grace.” Lafew calls Parolles a knave but finally takes some pity on him and tells him to come with him to eat, addressing him as “sirrah” (a term used by noblemen to address social inferiors).
While Helen’s trajectory in the play shows the possibility of some upward social mobility, that of Parolles shows the perils of sliding down the social ladder. Early in the play, he was offended at Bertram being called his master, but now he willingly serves Lafew and accepts being called “sirrah.”