has an ancestral ring that has been passed down through his family for generations. As one of the conditions he gives Helen
for making him truly her husband, he tells her that she will have to get this ring from him, thinking this task impossible. But he ends up giving this precious ring to Diana
in order to woo her, unwittingly putting the ring into Helen’s hands. Bertram’s ring is a token of romantic affection and therefore a sign of fidelity or infidelity. In Diana’s possession, the ring apparently proves that he has been unfaithful to Helen and has seduced Diana. In Helen’s possession, the ring is proof that Bertram has actually been (unintentionally) faithful and slept with his wife. Additionally, through this ring, the reversal of typical gender roles in Helen and Bertram’s relationship is made clear. Diana compares her valuable chastity to Bertram’s precious ring, and indeed his ring can be seen as a symbol of a male form of chastity that Bertram does not want Helen to violate. Helen assumes the typically male role of trying to seduce her partner into sex and trying to take Bertram’s ring just as a male suitor might try to “take” a woman’s virginity from her. Because Bertram’s ring is a family heirloom, it is also an important symbol of Bertram’s noble heritage and high status in the social hierarchy as a count. The ring can be seen as representing Bertram’s nobility itself—the prize Helen gets by marrying him (and thus marrying into a higher social class).