Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

All's Well That Ends Well by William…

All's Well That Ends Well

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,243136,384 (3.49)54



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 54 mentions

English (12)  Swedish (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Witty, clever but difficult to understand the meaning of some discussion due to the use of obsolete or obscure wording. Mildly recommended for the historical value of a classical author. ( )
  GlennBell | Dec 23, 2014 |
An unsatisfying romantic comedy about a scorned and abandoned wife's efforts to reclaim her husband. To compare this to Shakespeare's romantic comedies is like comparing a Katherine Heigl romcom to one of the great 1930s screwball films. ( )
  Coach_of_Alva | Jul 13, 2014 |
Sometimes designated as a problem play, this comedy ends with the typical marriage and reconciliation, but the resolution feels far from happy. The story concerns Helena and Bertram as the main couple, with a host of other characters that are much more interesting than Bertram. Bertram is a Count, and his mother took in Helena, the daughter of a famous doctor, after her parents died. The play opens with Bertram heading to court to serve under the king, and Helena grieving because she secretly loves him and can't stand to see him leave.

Helena is a complex character. Her love for Bertram is almost incomprehensible, but she is unquestionably clever. She knows the king is dying from an illness no one has been able to cure. She also believes that her father knew the solution, and she concocts a plan. She meets with the king, who is unwilling to trust a woman, and they make a bargain: if she heals him, he will grant her the chance to choose her own husband; if she fails, he will kill her.

Helena does heal the king, and when her request is granted, she chooses Bertram as her husband. Unfortunately, Bertram the evil has no interest in his mother's ward, and prefers running off to war over heading to the marriage bed. Even though the reader already loves Helena, Bertram's anger at a forced marriage is sympathetic, perhaps, if it weren't for his cowardly way of handling it. But Bertram's later actions quickly reveal a shallow and dark nature. With evil influence Parrolles by his side, he whores around France and takes pleasure in seducing virgins, drinking, and carousing when not involved in battles. Bertram's only redeeming virtue is that he actually is a good solider. Despite his abandonment, and cruel and cowardly letter that accuses Helena with words he wouldn't use in person, Helena is still in love with Bertram. In fact, she feels responsible for his going off to war, and decides that she should take a pilgrimage and leave the country, so that he can feel free to return home.

Her voyage coincidentally takes her to the same place where Bertram's troop is stationed - although as Helena's cunning is more and more apparent, coincidentally may not be accurate. She meets the young lady that Bertram is currently trying to seduce, and tells Diana and her mother her story of woe. They agree to assist her in an unorthodox plan, where Helena hides in Diana's darkened room and sleeps with her husband while he thinks she is someone else. That sounds like the course to disaster, but everything technically works out in the end, when Helena reveals herself and Bertram declares that he now will love her forever and ever. Not only that, but Parrolles faces retribution for his evil actions, is taken on as a fool, and Diana is promised the king's aid.

The plot is clever, with a fast pace and compelling side characters. There are two deceptions pulled off to great effect - both Bertram's and Parrolles's inner characters are revealed through trickery - and the dialogue shines with Shakespeare's wit. Bertram ruins this play for me, though, casting it far down on the list of comedies I would like to read or see staged. He is an arrogant and self-loving cad; at the end, the others exonerate him as being influenced by Parrolles, but I don't see any evidence of that in the play. Rather, he chose Parrolles as a match to his own dark nature. Although Helena wins the man she wants, I very much doubt she will find much happiness in him. The play is entertaining enough to hold its own despite its lackluster leading man, but if Bertram had been a different character, I would have liked this drama much more. ( )
  nmhale | Feb 19, 2014 |

Bertram! You're such an idiot! It's a good thing your mother and your sweetheart are so wise and forbearing. By rights, you should be thrown to the dogs at the end of this play for acting like a total jackass, but since you're the hero, you get to be redeemed. And Helena still loves you, imagine that, even after you accidentally impregnated her while thinking you were sleeping with a French virgin!
( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 25, 2013 |
All's Well That Ends Well has generally been considered one of Shakespeare's most difficult and unpopular plays. Labelled a "Problem Comedy", editors believe that the play was written between 1604 and 1605, and exhibits a darkening of Shakespeare's interest in comedy. The play deals with the complicated relationship between Helena, the daughter of a famous physician, and Bertram, the arrogant son of the Countess of Roussillon. Helena is secretly in love with Bertram, and when she miraculously cures the ailing King, she asks for Bertram's hand in marriage, to which the grateful sovereign happily agrees. Bertram bitterly opposes marriage to Helena, who he regards as a social inferior. After reluctantly agreeing to the marriage, Bertram flees to the wars in Italy with his companion Parolles. What ensues is Helena's increasingly desperate and complex attempts to retrieve her errant husband, which involves various machinations and a piece of mistaken identity and an infamous "bed-trick" which has never fully convinced audiences or critics. More recently critics have been kinder to the play, seeing its cynical disillusionment with romance as reflecting contemporary social and political anxieties about warfare and commerce, and feminist critics have been keen to celebrate Helena as a particularly complex heroine. The play is also fascinated by language, encapsulated in the character of Parolles (or "words"), and his memorable line for which the play is chiefly remembered: "Simply the thing I am / Shall make me live". --Jerry Brotton
  Roger_Scoppie | Apr 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (51 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Shakespeareprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brigstocke, W. OsborneEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
LaMar, Virginia A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lowes, John LivingstonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McEachern, Claire ElizabethEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Snyder, SusanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
In delivering my son from me, I bury a second husband.
Love all, trust a few. Do wrong to none.
No legacy is so rich as honesty.
Praising what is lost
Makes the remembrance dear.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743484975, Mass Market Paperback)

FOLGER Shakespeare Library

The world's leading center for Shakespeare studies

Each edition includes:

• Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

• Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

• Scene-by-scene plot summaries

• A key to famous lines and phrases

• An introduction to reading Shakespeare's language

• An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

• Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books

Essay by David McCandless

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare's printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit www.folger.edu.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:57 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

This richly illustrated edition of Shakespeare's classic comedy in the New Folger Library features an accurate text in modern spelling and punctuation, scene-by-scene plot summaries and full explanatory notes, in-depth guides with tips on reading Shakespeare's language, and much more.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.49)
0.5 1
1 3
1.5 2
2 15
2.5 6
3 60
3.5 13
4 60
4.5 1
5 27


4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141016604, 014071460X

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 96,166,404 books! | Top bar: Always visible