All's Well that Ends Well

Bertram Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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
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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
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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
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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)
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Lies, Deceit, and Trickery Theme Icon
Bertram says that a woman in Florence threw it out a window to him, as she... (full context)
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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
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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)