All's Well that Ends Well

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Diana Character Analysis

A young Florentine woman whom Bertram tries to seduce. Diana resists his advances, preferring to maintain her chastity, and then cooperates with Helen’s plan in pretending to agree to sleep with him in return for his ring. She then goes to the king of France and claims that Bertram has abandoned her after promising to marry her. After everything is resolved at the end of the play, the king promises her any husband she should choose—provided that she is still a virgin.

Diana Quotes in All's Well that Ends Well

The All's Well that Ends Well quotes below are all either spoken by Diana or refer to Diana. 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 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. 

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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. 

If thou be’st yet a fresh uncropped flower,
Choose thou thy husband, and I’ll pay thy dower.
For I can guess that by thy honest aid
Thou kept’st a wife herself, thyself a maid.
Of that and all the progress more and less,
Resolvedly more leisure shall express.
All yet seems well, and if it end so meet,
The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.

Related Characters: The King of France (speaker), Diana
Page Number: 5.3.372-379
Explanation and Analysis:

Amazed and happy that Helen is alive, the King now turns to Diana. He tells her that (as he did with Helen), he will allow her to choose any husband she wants, and will make her a wealthy woman by "pay[ing] her dower." However, he will only do so if she is indeed still "a maid." The King's promise shows that, despite the complications that ensued after he made the same promise to Helen, he is willing to do the same thing all over again. HIs qualification that he will only do so if Diana is a maid, meanwhile, displays his society's continuing obsession with virginity (and female virginity in particular).

The King goes on, saying that "All...seems well" in his kingdom, and that though the past may be "bitter" it only makes the ending of the play more "sweet." This type of happy resolution is common for a comedy, yet in the case of All's Well, it seems somewhat jarring. The "past" has indeed been very "bitter," and the seemingly unworthy Bertram has ended up with the brave, loyal Helen. Although the King may tell us one thing, it is up to the audience to determine whether we really believe the happy ending occurring in front of us, and accept the play's title without reservations. 

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Diana Character Timeline in All's Well that Ends Well

The timeline below shows where the character Diana appears in All's Well that Ends Well. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 3, Scene 5
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
In Florence, a widow, her daughter Diana, and a woman named Mariana discuss the feats of Bertram, who has “done most honorable... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...knows of the count of Rossillion. Helen says she only knows of his noble reputation. Diana says that the count has been married “against his liking,” and that his man Parolles... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...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 / In honestest defense.”... (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... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 6
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...about it. Some of the noblemen leave, and Bertram takes one nobleman to show him Diana, the “fair creature” he is trying to seduce. (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... (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, and says that he... (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,... (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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
...with the duke, mourned his newly deceased wife, made preparations for leaving Florence, and wooed Diana. He asks about Parolles, and one of the noblemen informs him that Parolles has confessed... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...he is a “lousy” commander. The soldiers search Parolles’ pockets and find a letter to Diana, in which Parolles tells her that Bertram is “a fool and full of gold.” Parolles... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
The next day, Helen journeys with the widow and Diana to go find the king of France in Marseilles. She thanks Diana and her mother... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Helen, the widow, and Diana arrive in Marseilles to find the king of France. Helen sees a gentleman whom she... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
...to pass along to his daughter, and Bertram gives him the ring that he thought Diana had given him in Florence (really it was Helen who gave it to him the... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...at Marseilles enters and delivers her letter to the king. The letter is written by Diana and claims that Bertram seduced her and promised to marry her, before fleeing from Florence.... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...are monsters” to him and he flees them as soon as he commits to them. Diana and the widow enter, and they both plead their case to the king. Diana calls... (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... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Diana says that Parolles can testify to her case, and the king orders for Parolles to... (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... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...what Bertram did or didn’t do, and Parolles says that Bertram was madly infatuated with Diana, slept with her, and may have promised her marriage. The king asks Diana how she... (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... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
...not dead. The king asks Helen to explain what has happened, and then turns to Diana. He tells her that she can choose any husband she wants, and he will pay... (full context)