William Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well in the complete original text.
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All's Well that Ends Well

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All's Well That Ends Well Play

All's Well That Ends Well tells the story of love between different classes. Helena, the main character in All's Well That Ends Well is the orphaned daughter of the late physician Gerard de Narbon, now taken in by the Countess of Rousillon. In the Countess' care, she falls deeply in love with Bertram, the Countess' son but keeps her feelings hidden. Bertram pays no attention to this lowly maid. Now serving in the King of Frances' court, Bertram learns the King suffers from festula. If only the esteemed physician Gerard de Narbon were alive, the King could be saved...

Meanwhile poor Helena still yearns for Bertram but fears her social station will make a relationship impossible. The Countess senses Helena's pain, learning it is from being separated from Bertram. Helena reveals her intention to go to Paris and cure the King with potion her late father made, allowing her be close to Bertram again. The Countess encourages Helena in her plan, happy Helena loves her son. Helena tries to cure the King but he will have none of it; he is sick of cures that don't work. Seizing the initiative, Helena stakes her very life on the potion, but should it work, she asks to have the hand of any available gentleman in the King's court. The potion works, Helena choosing Bertram to be her husband...

However Bertram has other ideas; he cannot love nor marry the daughter of a physician nor will he try. The King says otherwise and so they are married but Bertram hasn't accepted marriage lying down, escaping after the wedding for a miltary campagn in Italy. Before leaving, he sends his new wife home to Rousillon to join his mother, declaring by letter that though he may be wed, he has not consummated the marriage nor will he ever! Bertram by letter, also tells Helena that only once she can place the ring on his finger and has borne him a child, can she call him her husband. Helena, distraught, goes on pilgrimage, arriving in Florence, Italy where she takes lodgings under an old widow who has a daughter named Diana. Diana tells Helena of a countryman who has gained great honor in a battle, a certain Count Rousillon. Helena claims to know this man only by name. It turns out Bertram has been trying to seduce Diana, Helena, wishing the Count could love her, his wife.

Helena recounts her ordeal to the widow and Diana, gaining help in getting Helena's husband back. Diana tricks Bertram into giving her his wedding ring, arranging to bed Bertram at midnight. Instead Helena takes Diana's place in the dark, the two finally making love. Helena then places a ring on Bertram's finger given to her by the King of France. Back in Rousillon, The Countess, believing Helena dead, urges her son home. Now in Rousillon, Bertram realises he lost a loving and devoted wife, admitting to the King that he did love Helena... Forgiving Bertram for his mistake, the King decides Bertram shall remarry but spotting the ring he gave Helena on Bertram's hand, he inquires how it got there, Bertram desperately trying to avoid revealing anything. Diana appears, revealing how that ring got there, demanding Bertram's hand. Helena now arrives with the widow claiming she not only bears Bertram's ring but carries child as well, Bertram happily acknowledging Helena as his wife.


Dramatis Personæ

Act I
Scene I, Scene II, Scene III

Act II
Scene I,
Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV, Scene V

Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV, Scene V, Scene VI,
Scene VII

Act IV
Scene I, Scene II, Scene III,
Scene IV, Scene V

Act V
Scene I, Scene II, Scene III


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