All's Well that Ends Well


William Shakespeare

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All's Well that Ends Well: Act 3, Scene 7 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
At the Florentine widow’s home, Helen tries to persuade the widow that she is actually Bertram’s wife. The widow says she will believe Helen if she can produce proof of her fortune, and Helen gives the widow a bag of gold. She promises the widow more gold if she will help her with her plan.
Helen finally reveals her true identity to the widow. Helen’s social class is not high enough to marry Bertram easily, but it is high enough to allow her to persuade the widow with her wealth.
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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 ring that he wears on his finger. Then, at night, Helen will take Diana’s place in her bed and sleep with Bertram in the dark. She promises to pay the widow for her help. The widow agrees to the plan and says that Bertram comes to Diana every night singing songs to try to woo her. Helen suggests they carry out the plan that night, and says that while the plan is deceitful, it is lawful.
Just as Bertram plans to use justifiable trickery to reveal Parolles' true nature in the realm of war, Helen plans to use justifiable trickery to get Bertram to fulfill his obligations in the realm of love. Thus, she thinks that her deceitful plan is lawful. The exchange of Bertram’s ring symbolizes both his giving up his own form of chastity to his wife and his sharing his inherited nobility with her.
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