All's Well that Ends Well

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Lafew Character Analysis

A French nobleman and friend of both the king and the countess. He strongly dislikes Parolles and advises Bertram not to trust him. Later in the play, when Helen is supposedly dead, he tries to get Bertram to marry his daughter, but then withdraws this offer when Bertram appears to have slept with Diana.

Lafew Quotes in All's Well that Ends Well

The All's Well that Ends Well quotes below are all either spoken by Lafew or refer to Lafew. 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 2, Scene 3 Quotes

I did think thee, for two ordinaries, to be a pretty wise fellow; thou didst make tolerable vent of thy travel; it might pass. Yet the scarves and the bannerets about thee did manifoldly dissuade me from believing thee a vessel of too great a burden. I have now found thee. When I lose thee again, I care not. Yet art thou good for nothing but taking up, and that thou’rt scarce worth.

Related Characters: Lafew (speaker), Parolles
Page Number: 2.3.215-222
Explanation and Analysis:

Lafew, the dignified courtier, meets Parolles, Bertram's undignified, dishonest, and vain manservant. The two take an instant dislike to each other, and immediately begin to trade insults. Here, Lafew takes aim at Parolles' fondness for flamboyant clothing, especially "scarves." Sarcastically, Lafew tells Parolles that he believed him to be "a pretty wise fellow," but subsequently mocks his various adornments, calling him worthless and utterly dismissing him. 

Although Lafew may seem somewhat stuffy, he also happens to be correct: Parolles is generally treacherous and two-faced. He will do or say anything if it is advantageous to him, and he has seemingly no sense of loyalty or morality. 

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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. 

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Lafew Character Timeline in All's Well that Ends Well

The timeline below shows where the character Lafew 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
...mother, the countess of Rossillion, is sad to see her son leave. A nobleman named Lafew says that the king will be like a father to Bertram and a husband to... (full context)
Social Classes Theme Icon
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
...made nature immortal,” and likely could have cured the king. Sadly, this doctor is dead. Lafew says that the king has mentioned this doctor before, and tells the countess that the... (full context)
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
The doctor’s daughter, named Helen, is crying while the countess and Lafew talk, and the countess tells Helen to restrain her sorrow over her father’s death, so... (full context)
Social Classes Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...gives Bertram some motherly advice to be virtuous, careful, and honest. She leaves, and after Lafew says goodbye to Helen, he leaves with Bertram. All alone, Helen reveals that her tears... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
...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 resembles... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...Parolles encourages Bertram to go give them “a more dilated farewell.” They both leave, and Lafew comes to speak to the king. (full context)
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lafew asks the king if he will try any remedies for his illness, and the king... (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 “learned and... (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 says that they will be married this very night. Everyone but Parolles and Lafew leaves. (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Social Classes Theme Icon
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lafew tells Parolles, “Your lord and master did well to make his recantation,” and Parolles takes... (full context)
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Lafew and Parolles continue to trade angry quips, and Lafew again makes fun of Parolles’ flamboyant... (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 says that he believes Parolles is a... (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 know what he has done to make Lafew dislike him, and... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
Social Classes Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
In Rossillion, the countess has just learned of Helen’s apparent death. She and Lafew lament the death of “the most virtuous gentlewoman that ever nature had praise for creating,”... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
After the fool leaves, Lafew tells the countess that he has spoken to the king about Bertram possibly marrying his... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Social Classes Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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Parolles tells Lafew that he has suffered misfortune, but Lafew has little sympathy for him. Parolles tells Lafew... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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Character and Judgment Theme Icon
...son for his youthful rashness, and the king says, “I have forgiven and forgotten all.” Lafew says that Bertram offended the king, the countess, and Helen with his behavior, and lost... (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... (full context)
Remedy and Resolution Theme Icon
...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 token or gift to pass along to... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
Character and Judgment Theme Icon
Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
...fleeing from Florence. She demands that the king make Bertram follow through on his promise. Lafew says that he won’t let his daughter marry Bertram now. The king sends for Diana... (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 daughter, when apparently “wives are monsters” to him and he flees them as soon as... (full context)
Virginity, Sex, and Marriage Theme Icon
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Lafew starts to cry at seeing that Helen is not dead. The king asks Helen to... (full context)