All's Well That Ends Well | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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All's Well That Ends Well | Act 4, Scenes 4–5 | Summary

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Summary

Act 4, Scene 4

Helen brings the widow of Florence and Diana up to date on recent events, including the fact she has spread a rumor of her own death. She tells the two women they will now return to France, where Bertram is already heading, and where she will ask Diana to do one more favor for her. Diana assures Helen she is at her service, and Helen, insisting they have to leave, promises that "All's well that ends well."

Act 4, Scene 5

Act 4, Scene 5 begins back at Rossillion, with Lafew reassuring the countess her son is a good man who was misled by a cowardly "snipped-taffeta fellow." Without Parolles's influence, Lafew says, Bertram would have remained home and become a favorite of the king of France and Helen would still be alive. The two of them bemoan the loss of "the most virtuous gentlewoman that ever / nature had praise for creating." Now that she has gone, however, Lafew has suggested to the king of France Lafew's own daughter marry Bertram, thus ending the king's displeasure with the young man. The countess approves of the plan and is grateful to Lafew for finding a way to help her son.

Analysis

Act 4, Scene 4 and Act 4, Scene 5 reveal all the key characters are coming back together. Not only has Bertram recently arrived home, but Helen, the widow of Florence, and Diana are also headed to see the king of France, who, they will find, is heading to Rossillion himself. Despite the fact the situation seems tense, Helen seems to believe all will work out in her favor: it is here she provides the line that gives the play its name, "All's well that ends well."

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