All's Well that Ends Well

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Bertram can be seen as the antagonist of the play, as he abandons Helen and tries to prevent her from attaining her ultimate goal of marrying him and being in a relationship with him. However, at times he can seem like a sympathetic character who is forced into a marriage with a woman he doesn’t love. He may be overly concerned with social class, as the king thinks that the only reason he doesn’t love Helen is because she is of a lower class than he is. He shamelessly tries to seduce Diana while in Florence and gives her his ancestral ring in order to woo her, not realizing that Diana is in cahoots with Helen. Early in the play, Bertram is influenced by his friend Parolles, who he thinks is a trustworthy ally, but in Florence he learns that Parolles is actually a lying coward, and abandons him. At the end of the play, Bertram claims to have a change of heart, and pledges to love Helen as his wife, but the truth of this vow is highly debatable. He may be lying to Helen again, and he may simply be trying not to incur the king’s anger by dishonoring Helen further. The ambiguity of his vow to love Helen thus raises serious questions about whether all really has ended well by the end of the play.

Bertram Quotes in All's Well that Ends Well

The All's Well that Ends Well quotes below are all either spoken by Bertram or refer to Bertram. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of All's Well that Ends Well published in 2006.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

My imagination
Carries no favor in ‘t but Bertram’s.
I am undone. There is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. ‘Twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so above me.

Related Characters: Helen (speaker), Bertram
Page Number: 1.1.87-92
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote brings up a force that will move the action forward for the entire play: Helen's desperate and unremitting love for Bertram. At this moment, however, Helen firmly believes that she loves hopelessly: he is as far away from her as a "star" is from humans, because of his social class and noble birth.

Despite Helen's pessimism, she still cannot rid herself of her passion. Instead, she tells us, "There is no living...If Bertram be away." This statement will remain true as the play continues--Helen simply cannot bear to be away from Bertram, and will follow him, no matter the cost. 

These opposing emotions create a consistent sense of conflict within Helen. She assumes that she does not deserve Bertram, yet cannot help but love him. The characters around Helen (and the audience) take quite a different attitude, however: to them, it is the proud and shallow Bertram who is unworthy of Helen's love. 

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other All's Well that Ends Well quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

Pardon, madam.
The Count Rossillion cannot be my brother.
I am from humble, he from honored name;
No note upon my parents, his all noble.
My master, my dear lord he is, and I
His servant live and will his vassal die.
He must not be my brother.

Related Characters: Helen (speaker), Bertram
Page Number: 1.3.159-165
Explanation and Analysis:

Helen converses with the Countess, who--secretly knowing of Helen's love for Bertram--calls herself Helen's "mother." Helen, however, reacts with violent dismay: she explains that however close she may be to the family, she could never refer to Bertram as her "brother."

At least on the surface, Helen claims that her upset comes from her own "humble" station. She thinks of Bertram as her "master" and her "lord." She is not his equal, and therefore could never be related to him. Her birth is too low and his too high for them to be a part of the same family.

Of course, on another level, Helen's immediate denial of a sibling relationship between herself and Bertram springs from her desperate romantic love for him. She shies away from thinking of him as her brother because that would make her love incestuous, and therefore even more sinful than she already believes it to be (since she yearns for one of higher birth than herself). 

Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

'Tis only title thou disdain'st in her, the which
I can build up. Strange is it that our bloods,
Of colour, weight, and heat, pour'd all together,
Would quite confound distinction, yet stand off
In differences so mighty. If she be
All that is virtuous, save what thou dislikest,
A poor physician's daughter, thou dislikest
Of virtue for the name: but do not so:
From lowest place when virtuous things proceed,
The place is dignified by the doer's deed:
Where great additions swell's, and virtue none,
It is a dropsied honour. Good alone
Is good without a name. Vileness is so:
The property by what it is should go,
Not by the title. She is young, wise, fair;
In these to nature she's immediate heir,
And these breed honour: that is honour's scorn,
Which challenges itself as honour's born
And is not like the sire: honours thrive,
When rather from our acts we them derive
Than our foregoers: the mere word's a slave
Debosh'd on every tomb, on every grave
A lying trophy, and as oft is dumb
Where dust and damn'd oblivion is the tomb
Of honour'd bones indeed. What should be said?
If thou canst like this creature as a maid,
I can create the rest: virtue and she
Is her own dower; honour and wealth from me.

Related Characters: The King of France (speaker), Helen, Bertram
Page Number: 2.3.128-155
Explanation and Analysis:

After being chosen by Helen, Bertram is furious, stating that he can never love her. The King, however, convinced of Helen's worthiness, grows angry with Bertram. In a long tirade, he explains that Bertram "distain'st" only Helen's lack of title and wealth, which he, as the King, can fix. He goes on to praise Helen's virtue, attempting to explain to Bertram the value of that attribute. He continues by asserting that Helena is rich in those qualities that only nature can bestow: "She is young, wise, and fair." He ends by telling Bertram that "scorn" is not an honorable emotion, and reminds the young lord that he can give Helen "honour and wealth," while only she herself can provide virtue and beauty. 

The King's speech is a complex one, revealing the complex nature of class within this society. Although Helen is lowborn, the King recognizes her noble qualities, and wishes to reward her with wealth and a title to match. Bertram, however, cannot see past Helen's low birth; he is moved only by the King's power and veiled threats, not by the logical argument that he hears proposed. 

This passage also reveals the transactional nature of marriage in this society. The King firmly believes that beauty, wealth, and equality of birth are enough to make a happy marriage. Further, he believes that Bertram should marry whomever he, the King, commands. This view even further complicates the already thorny subject of marriage within the play. 

Act 2, Scene 5 Quotes

Fare you well, my lord, and believe this of me: there can be no kernel in this light nut. The soul of this man is his clothes. Trust him not in matter of heavy consequence.

Related Characters: Lafew (speaker), Bertram, Parolles
Page Number: 2.5.43-46
Explanation and Analysis:

As Bertram and Parolles prepare to go, Lafew urges the younger man not to trust his servant. By saying that Parolles is a "nut" without a "kernel," Lafew means to express that Parolles has no core sense of morality or character, and cannot be counted upon. Instead, Parolles is wholly shallow--his "soul...is his clothes." Like clothes, Parolles can change himself at will, shifting his identity, his views, and his allegiances based on what will be most advantageous to him. 

Lafew's warning, while astute, goes unheeded by Bertram. This theme of refusing to listen to sound advice is a common one in All's Well That Ends Well, especially when it comes to Bertram. Just as he refused to be convinced of Helen's worth by the King, so too does he refuse to believe in Parolles' faithlessness. 

Sir, I can nothing say
But that I am your most obedient servant.

Related Characters: Helen (speaker), Bertram
Page Number: 2.5.77-78
Explanation and Analysis:

As Bertram prepares to leave, a dismayed Helen comes to watch him depart. Although they are man and wife, they have not consummated their relationship, and it is plain to Helen that her husband is determined to leave her. That said, she does not attempt to stop him. Instead, she only reminds him that she is his "most obedient servant" and that she will do whatever he says. 

Once again, we witness the complexity of Helen. Despite being a strong and independent female character, she also appears completely submissive to her careless and cruel husband. In other words, she is determined to be the perfect wife, no matter how badly Bertram may treat her. This submission is born both from the societal expectations that wives be docile and obedient, and also from Helen's deep love for Bertram, and her desire to please him no matter what. 

Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

I have sent you a daughter-in-law. She hath recovered the King and undone me. I have wedded her, not bedded her, and sworn to make the “not” eternal.

Related Characters: Bertram (speaker), Helen, The Countess of Rossillion, The King of France
Page Number: 3.2.19-22
Explanation and Analysis:

Helen travels back to Rossillion to the countess, where she gives her new mother-in-law a letter from Bertram. Within it, he explains that Helen has cured the King, but that he considers himself "undone" by their marriage. He goes on to say that while they are married, he has not slept with his wife, and intends never to do so. 

This note reveals the cruelty and shallowness behind the noble Bertram. Although he may be highborn, handsome, and brave, he acts callously towards Helen, the woman who loves him most in the world, and even goes so far as to deceive her in order to get what he wants. Further, he even ridicules her to the Countess, who loves Helen as much as (or even more than) her own child. 

It is also notable how obsessed Bertram is with the idea of sex as it relates to marriage. As long as Helen remains a virgin, Bertram believes, they are not truly man and wife. This idea will come back to haunt him as the play continues. 

When thou canst get the ring upon my finger, which never shall come off, and show me a child begotten of thy body that I am father to, then call me husband. But in such a “then” I write a “never.”

Related Characters: Bertram (speaker), Helen
Related Symbols: Bertram’s Ring
Page Number: 3.2.58-62
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Helen reads aloud a letter from Bertram, in which he tells her that they will only be married when she can get "the ring upon my finger," and prove that she is pregnant with his child. To Bertram, of course, these requirements seem like impossibilities. As far as he is concerned, he will never give Helen a ring (implying his loyalty to and love for her), nor will he ever sleep with her, making a child out of the question. 

Helen, however, takes the letter in a different way. After all, she has already cured the King of a deadly illness and married a man considered far above her in terms of wealth and nobility; it makes sense that she would believe Bertram's requirements to be merely difficult, but not impossible, tasks. This difference in understanding highlights the gap between Bertram's shallow arrogance and Helen's determined, can-do attitude.

At the same time, this passage also underlines Bertram's equation of sex, marriage, and love. He believes that his marriage to Helen will never be real unless they consummate it--and so Helen decides to challenge him on his own terms. 

Act 3, Scene 5 Quotes

I know that knave, hang him! One Parolles, a filthy officer he is in those suggestions for the young earl. –Beware of them, Diana. Their promises, enticements, oaths, tokens, and all these enginges of lust are not the things they go under. Many a maid hath been seduced by them; and the misery is example that so terrible shows in the wrack of maidenhood cannot for all that dissuade succession, but that they are limed with the twigs that threatens them. I hope I need not to advise you further; but I hope your own grace will keep you where you are, though there were no further danger known but the modesty which is so lost.

Related Characters: Mariana (speaker), Bertram, Parolles
Page Number: 3.5.17-29
Explanation and Analysis:

The Italian women, along with a disguised Helen, watch the French soldiers process into their city. One of the women is Diana, the brand-new object of Bertram's affections. As Parolles goes by, Diana's friend, Mariana, speaks her mind, voicing how much she hates Parolles, and how she believes that he has corrupted Bertram. 

Mariana's tirade continues, encompassing her feelings about men in general. She believes that men can promise and entice a maiden only to take her virginity, leave her, and ruin her. In short, her view is that all men are deceitful, immoral, and immune to the consequences of their actions, and so the best thing a young woman can do is to stay far away from them. 

In Mariana's rant the somewhat-secret war between men and women within All's Well That Ends Well becomes fully apparent. Men believe that women are tricksters who use their wiles to seduce and manipulate men. Women, meanwhile, believe that men are destructive liars, who care only about "conquering" a woman and are happy to leave her high and dry afterwards. In short, each sex thinks the worst of the other. 

Act 3, Scene 6 Quotes

Bertram:
Do you believe I am so far deceived in him?

Lord:
Believe it, my lord. In mine own direct knowledge, without any malice, but to speak of him as my kinsman, he’s a most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner of no one good quality worthy your Lordship’s entertainment.

Related Characters: Bertram (speaker), Parolles
Page Number: 3.6.6-12
Explanation and Analysis:

Back in the French military camp, a group of lords tries to convince Bertram that Parolles is dishonest and corrupt. Bertram is disbelieving, though one of the lords urges him on, telling him that Parolles is a "coward," a "liar," a "promise-breaker," and in short has not "one good quality." 

As happens so often in All's Well that Ends Well, a net of treachery and deceit has sprung up among several different characters. Parolles has fooled Bertram into thinking him a good and faithful friend. The lords are now undercutting Parolles by talking behind his back to Bertram. And soon Bertram, with the help of the lords, will take revenge on Parolles--but only through further trickery and deceit. This type of tangled interaction is common for All's Well, where seemingly everyone--even the most well-meaning of characters--has the capacity for deceit. 

Act 3, Scene 7 Quotes

Helen:
The Count he woos your daughter;
Lays down his wanton siege before her beauty,
Resolved to carry her. Let her in fine consent
As we’ll direct her how ‘tis best to bear it.
Now his important blood will naught deny
That she’ll demand. A ring the County wears
That downward hath succeeded in his house
From son to son some four or five descents
Since the first father wore it. This ring he holds
In most rich choice. Yet, in his idle fire,
To buy his will it would not seem too dear,
Howe’er repented after.

Widow:
Now I see the bottom of your purpose.

Helen:
You see it lawful, then. It is no more
But that your daughter, ere she seems as won,
Desires this ring, appoints him an encounter,
In fine, delivers me to fill the time,
Herself most chastely absent.

Related Characters: Helen (speaker), The Widow (speaker), Bertram, Diana
Related Symbols: Bertram’s Ring
Page Number: 3.7.20-38
Explanation and Analysis:

Back at the Widow's home, Helen reveals herself as Bertram's scorned wife. Rather than hating Diana for having attracted Bertram's attention, Helen instead has a much craftier plan: she will use Bertram's attraction to Diana in order to gain both his ring and his child, fooling him into thinking that he is pledging his love to and sleeping with Diana, when in fact Helen has taken her place.

This passage yet again shows the complexity of Helen's thinking. She does not hate Diana, but instead views the other woman as a means by which she can eventually be reunited with her husband (and fulfill his previous, seemingly impossible demands). She assures the Widow that Bertram will give the ring to Diana, despite his noble blood and the ring's importance to his family, knowing all too well that her faithless husband is driven by his desire rather than his judgment. 

Helen also tells both the Widow and the audience that her plot, which will culminate in Bertram sleeping with and impregnating her, is "lawful," because she is in fact Bertram's wife. Deceit and trickery, in Helen's mind, are utterly justified when they are carried out on behalf of the "lawful" bonds of matrimony. 

Act 4, Scene 2 Quotes

Mine honor’s such a ring.
My chastity’s the jewel of our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors,
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ the’ world
In me to lose. Thus your own proper wisdom
Brings in the champion honor on my part
Against your vain assault.

Related Characters: Diana (speaker), Bertram
Related Symbols: Bertram’s Ring
Page Number: 4.2.55-61
Explanation and Analysis:

Now a willing participant in Helen's plan, Diana pretends to flirtatiously banter with Bertram. She promises to offer him her virginity, but will only do so (she says) if he gives her his ancient and valuable ring. When he protests, she explains that her "honor" and "chastity" are the only "jewl" that her family has. In short, if he cannot give her the ring, she cannot give him her virginity.

This passage makes clear Diana's own cleverness, but once again makes clear the transactional way that all the characters think about both love and sex. Bertram and Diana are essentially bartering, each trying to gain advantage over the other. At the same time, Diana appears to have bought into the idea that women's worth is tied into their reproductive value: a valuable married woman bears children, while a valuable unmarried woman is necessarily a virgin. Still, Diana uses the system against Bertram in this case, making clear that he must give her a priceless jewel in exchange for her equally priceless virginity. 

Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

Upon his many protestations to marry me when his wife was dead, I blush to say it, he won me. Now is the Count Rossillion a widower, his vows are forfeited to me and my honor’s paid to him. He stole from Florence, taking no leave, and I follow him to his country for justice. Grant it me, O king. In you it best lies. Otherwise a seducer flourishes, and a poor maid is undone.

Related Characters: Diana (speaker), Helen, Bertram
Page Number: 5.3.159-166
Explanation and Analysis:

As Helen's plot continues to unfold, Diana and her mother appear before the King, and accuse Bertram: they say that he promised to marry her, took her virginity, and abandoned her. Here Diana describes how Bertram supposedly fooled her into giving up her honor, only to leave without her knowledge. She pleads for justice, and asks for Bertram to be punished.

This is a complex speech, full of both pathos and irony. On one hand, Bertram does indeed think that he committed all these crimes (and is now denying it). On the other hand, the woman he actually slept with is not Diana, but Helen, his "lawful" wife. Essentially, Diana and Helen have banded together both to reunite Helen with Bertram (however unwilling he may be) and to punish him for his deceitful, unfaithful behavior.

As is standard for All's Well, Diana also takes care to portray Bertram as the aggressor, and herself as the conquered victim. Once again, love and war come together, highlighting both traditional gender roles (and their sometimes-comic reversals) and the characters' individual views on the subject. 

I wonder, sir, since wives are monsters to you
And that you fly them as you swear them lordship,
Yet you desire to marry.

Related Characters: The King of France (speaker), Bertram
Page Number: 5.3.176-178
Explanation and Analysis:

Furious with Bertram, the King questions why Bertram wished to marry Lafew's daughter, since he has now (supposedly) promised to marry two women (Helen and Diana), only to abandon them. 

The King has in fact astutely pointed out a pattern in Bertram's behavior: his consistent mistreatment of women, and his belief that he is entitled to do what he likes with them simply because he is a man.

The King believes that these actions make Bertram ignoble and unworthy of marrying anyone. In fact, however, they are more or less standard in a society that treats women like property, valuing them only for their virginities and childbearing potential. Although Bertram is cruel and careless, he is also a product of the patriarchal society in which he has been brought up. 

If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly,
I’ll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.

Related Characters: Bertram (speaker), Helen
Page Number: 5.3.360-361
Explanation and Analysis:

At last, with her plot complete, Helen emerges. Not only is she alive (to the surprise of all but the Widow and Diana), but she is also in possession of Bertram's ring, and pregnant with his child. The entire court is shocked by this apparent miracle, but none more so than Bertram, who has been fooled into sleeping with his own wife (an act in which he vowed never to engage).

In proving that Bertram has taken her virginity and impregnated her, Helen has essentially proved the validity of their marriage to all--including Bertram himself. She has tied herself to him forever, and has proven that their lawful connection is a physical one as well. In short, she has used society's obsession with sex, marriage, and virginity to get exactly what she wanted: the man of her dreams. 

Of course, Helen has also done so through a great deal of deceit--but Bertram now seems past caring. At this point in the plot, he wishes only for understanding and resolution, and so vows to "love" his formerly hated wife "dearly" if she will explain to him how these events came to pass. Although this resolution may seem weak and suspect, it is the best that the characters of the dark and complex All's Well can manage. 

Get the entire All's Well that Ends Well LitChart as a printable PDF.
All s well that ends well.pdf.medium

Bertram Character Timeline in All's Well that Ends Well

The timeline below shows where the character Bertram appears in All's Well that Ends Well. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Bertram, the young count of Rossillion, is preparing to leave to go to the king of... (full context)
Social Classes Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
The countess bids farewell to her son, and gives Bertram some motherly advice to be virtuous, careful, and honest. She leaves, and after Lafew says... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Bertram’s friend Parolles enters. Helen says to herself that she knows Parolles to be “a great... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...herself a husband, and then leaves. Alone again, Helen thinks of her hopeless situation with Bertram. But then she comes up with an idea: she says that the king’s sickness may... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
...go and join the fight are free to do so, on either side they wish. Bertram, Lafew, and Parolles then arrive from Rossillion, and the king remarks on how much Bertram... (full context)
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
The king describes the wit, honor, and virtue of Bertram’s father, and says that the current generation cannot live up to his example. The king... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Social Classes Theme Icon
...Helen, and the steward reveals that he has overheard Helen talking of her love for Bertram, and her sadness at there being “such difference betwixt their two estates.” The countess says... (full context)
Social Classes Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...is like a mother to her. Helen is troubled at this (since this would make Bertram like her brother), and the countess asks why she looked so uncomfortable when she heard... (full context)
Social Classes Theme Icon
Helen begs the countess’ pardon, and finally admits that she does love Bertram. She asks the countess not to be offended, and says that she would not pursue... (full context)
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...She admits, though, that her real motive in going to Paris would be to see Bertram. The countess wonders if the king would even try Helen’s medicines, as she is only... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...to fall in love with any Italian women while they are fighting there. Parolles and Bertram enter and speak to the departing noblemen. Bertram is upset that the king is not... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Bertram and Parolles say goodbye to the noblemen, and Parolles tells them to give his greetings... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
At the king’s court, Parolles, Bertram, and Lafew discuss the miracle of the king’s recovery. Lafew remarks on how all the... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Social Classes Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...all his love in me.” Helen speaks to several lords and then finally settles on Bertram, saying “this is the man.” (full context)
Social Classes Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Bertram is immediately upset, and does not want to marry Helen. The king tells him that... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
The king even promises Bertram to supply Helen’s dowry from his own wealth, but Bertram is stubborn, and says that... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Social Classes Theme Icon
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
...“Your lord and master did well to make his recantation,” and Parolles takes offense at Bertram being referred to as his master. Parolles says he’d challenge Lafew to a duel, but... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...fun of Parolles’ flamboyant appearance. He calls him a knave and leaves. A very distraught Bertram enters and tells Parolles that he will not sleep with Helen, even though he was... (full context)
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Bertram says that he will send Helen to Rossillion to wait for him, but plans never... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Social Classes Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...and the fool teases him with clever jokes. Ignoring the fool, Parolles tells Helen that Bertram is leaving for Italy, and must put off “the great prerogative and rite of love,”... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
As Bertram prepares to leave the royal court, Lafew warns him not to trust Parolles, but Bertram... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Bertram asks if there is any ill will between Parolles and Lafew. Parolles says he doesn’t... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Helen enters and tells Bertram that she has made arrangements for her departure from the royal court. She says the... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Social Classes Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
At Rossillion, the fool delivers a letter from Bertram to the countess. He says that Bertram appeared melancholy, and the countess opens the letter... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Social Classes Theme Icon
The fool returns and tells the countess that Bertram has run away. He says that Helen can tell her more, and leaves as Helen... (full context)
Social Classes Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
...countess says that she is saddened by all this, and says she no longer considers Bertram to be her son. Helen reads more of Bertram’s letter, in which he says, “Till... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...Helen decides that she will leave France. She worries that it is her fault that Bertram has been driven to go to war, where he is in danger. She thinks that... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Gender Roles Theme Icon
In Florence, the duke puts Bertram in charge of his cavalry. Bertram is honored and says that he will fight valiantly.... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
Social Classes Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...become a pilgrim to the shrine of St. Jaques. She says that this will allow Bertram to return home, and calls Bertram “too good and fair” for her. The countess laments... (full context)
Social Classes Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
...be sent to him stressing Helen’s virtue and his failings. The countess hopes that when Bertram learns of Helen’s departure, he will come back to Rossillion, and then Helen will return,... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...Florence, a widow, her daughter Diana, and a woman named Mariana discuss the feats of Bertram, who has “done most honorable service” in battle. The widow says that Parolles has tried... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...is “too mean / To have her name repeated.” Helen learns from the widow that Bertram has been courting Diana, but that Diana “is armed for him and keeps her guard... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Pointing out Parolles—whom she calls “that jackanapes with scarves”—Diana says that he is leading Bertram astray. The troops pass by, and the widow tells Helen to follow her to her... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 6
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
In Florence, some French noblemen warn Bertram that Parolles is not to be trusted. One calls Parolles “a most notable coward, an... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...Parolles, pretend to be the enemy, and kidnap him. Once he is blindfolded, they tell Bertram that Parolles will surely betray him and give secrets away to who he thinks is... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Bertram tells Parolles that he is confident in Parolles’ bravery and ability, and Parolles promises to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Social Classes Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Helen plans to have Diana appear to give into Bertram’s advances and to agree to sleep with him if he will give her an ancestral... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...show.” The soldiers and noblemen carry Parolles away, and one of the noblemen calls for Bertram to be brought to see Parolles. (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Elsewhere in Florence, Bertram tries to seduce Diana. He tells her that she is cold to rebuff his advances,... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Social Classes Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Diana asks Bertram to give her a ring he is wearing, but he says he cannot, as it... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Diana tells Bertram that she will give him a ring as a sign of their time together. She... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Two French noblemen discuss a letter they have just delivered to Bertram from his mother. They say that Bertram “has much worthy blame laid upon him,” and... (full context)
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
The noblemen discuss Helen, who they say has died during her pilgrimage. They say that Bertram will be “glad” at the death of his wife, and remark on how life often... (full context)
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Bertram enters and says that he has accomplished a remarkable number of things in one day:... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...search Parolles’ pockets and find a letter to Diana, in which Parolles tells her that Bertram is “a fool and full of gold.” Parolles says that he wanted to warn the... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...is a liar, a thief, and a thoroughly dishonest man who is unskilled in war. Bertram now sees what Parolles is really like, and shouts, “a pox on him!” The soldiers... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...at least for his blindfold to be taken off. The soldiers remove his blindfold, and Bertram and the others say goodbye to him, then leave for France without him. Alone on-stage,... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...in Marseilles. She thanks Diana and her mother for helping her in her plot against Bertram (which went successfully), and tells them that everyone else thinks she is dead. She says... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
Social Classes Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
...of “the most virtuous gentlewoman that ever nature had praise for creating,” and Lafew blames Bertram’s bad behavior on the influence that Parolles had over him. The fool teases Lafew with... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...the fool leaves, Lafew tells the countess that he has spoken to the king about Bertram possibly marrying his (Lafew’s) daughter, now that Helen is dead. The countess says that she... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Speaking to the countess, the king laments the death of Helen and says that Bertram didn’t realize how good of a wife she was. The countess asks the king to... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
The king tells Lafew that Bertram will marry Lafew’s daughter. Bertram enters and apologizes to the king. The king tells Bertram... (full context)
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
...is no use in talking about Helen’s virtues now that she is dead, and asks Bertram to “now forget her,” and marry Lafew’s daughter. Lafew asks Bertram to give him a... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Bertram says that a woman in Florence threw it out a window to him, as she... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
The king says that he is “wrapped in dismal thinkings,” and suspects that Bertram may have had something to do with Helen’s death. Just then, the gentleman whom Helen... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Bertram is brought back in, and the king asks him why he wanted to marry Lafew’s... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Diana asks the king to ask Bertram if he took her virginity. Bertram calls Diana “a common gamester to the camp,” (i.e.... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...testify to her case, and the king orders for Parolles to be brought to court. Bertram says that Parolles cannot be trusted to give truthful testimony, as he is “a most... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Diana says that Bertram lacks virtue, and says she will give him his ring back in exchange for hers... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Parolles says that Bertram had “tricks . . . which gentlemen have,” and “did love her . . .... (full context)
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Diana says that Bertram is “guilty and he is not guilty.” She says that he will claim she is... (full context)
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Bertram and the king are shocked to see Helen alive. Helen shows Bertram the letter he... (full context)