All's Well That Ends Well | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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All's Well That Ends Well | Scene Summaries

See Scene Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • The beginning

    Bertram's father dies, making the young man the new Count of Rossillion.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • Shortly after

    Bertram, called to court by the ailing king of France, says goodbye to his mother, the countess.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • A few days later

    Helen, a doctor's daughter who has loved Bertram since childhood, follows him to Paris.

    Act 1, Scene 3
  • Several days later

    Using medicines left to her by her father, Helen cures the king of France.

    Act 2, Scene 3
  • Shortly afterward

    As a reward, the king of France allows Helen to choose any man she wishes for her husband.

    Act 2, Scene 3
  • Immediately following

    Helen chooses Bertram, who resents being forced to marry a woman from a lower class.

    Act 2, Scene 3
  • The same night

    Bertram heads off to war before the marriage can be consummated, and Helen returns to Rossillion.

    Act 2, Scene 5
  • Several days later

    Helen receives a letter from Bertram explaining what she must do for him to consider her his wife.

    Act 3, Scene 2
  • Shortly after

    Helen, worried for Bertram's safety, paves the way for him to come home by going on a pilgrimage.

    Act 3, Scene 4
  • Over several weeks

    In the Tuscan wars Bertram proves to be a good soldier and strong leader.

    Act 3, Scene 5
  • Some time later

    In Florence Helen meets Diana, a young noblewoman Bertram has been trying to seduce.

    Act 3, Scene 5
  • Soon after

    Helen enlists Diana's help in tricking Bertram.

    Act 3, Scene 7
  • Soon afterward

    Helen obtains Bertram's ring and takes Diana's place in the girl's bed.

    Act 5, Scene 3
  • Around the same time

    Helen spreads a rumor she has died from grief, and Bertram believes it.

    Act 4, Scene 3
  • A few weeks later

    Bertram returns to his home, only to be followed by Diana, who says he had promised to marry her.

    Act 5, Scene 3
  • Immediately afterward

    The king of France, visiting Rossillion, interrogates Bertram and catches him in a web of lies.

    Act 5, Scene 3
  • Immediately following

    Just as Bertram seems doomed, Helen appears with his ring and says she is pregnant with his child.

    Act 5, Scene 3
  • Moments later

    Bertram agrees to love Helen, everyone is satisfied, and "all's well that ends well."

    Act 5, Scene 3

Scene Summaries Chart

Scene Summary
Act 1, Scene 1 The play opens during a time of mourning. The Count of Rossillion has died, and his wife, the countess, and son Bertram ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 This brief scene introduces the audience to the king of France, who appears to be not only a strong leader, but also a w... Read More
Act 1, Scene 3 The action now returns to the court of the Countess of Rossillion. She is listening to the entreaties of Lavatch, the co... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 Act 2, Scene 1 returns the action to France, where the king of France is receiving oaths of loyalty from First Lord Duma... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 This brief scene between the countess and the fool provides the audience with the information the countess is sending th... Read More
Act 2, Scene 3 Back in Paris, a miracle has occurred. Parolles, Lafew, and Bertram watch in astonishment as the king of France enters t... Read More
Act 2, Scenes 4–5 This brief bridge scene and the one that follows show Bertram's plan being put in motion with Parolles's help. In Act ... Read More
Act 3, Scenes 1–2 This brief scene introduces the audience to the war. The Duke of Florence, along with the French lord, First Lord Duma... Read More
Act 3, Scenes 3–4 The Duke of Florence appears with Bertram and Parolles. Bertram has been named the "general of our horse," and the Duk... Read More
Act 3, Scene 5 Act 3, Scene 5 takes place in Florence, Italy, and opens with townspeople congregating in the town square. Among them ar... Read More
Act 3, Scenes 6–7 Bertram is having a rude awakening, thanks to First Lord Dumaine and Second Lord Dumaine, brothers who have befriended... Read More
Act 4, Scene 1 The plan to capture Parolles is underway with the French lords and several soldiers waiting in ambush. They agree to spe... Read More
Act 4, Scene 2 Bertram has come to Diana still hoping to win her affections—or, more truthfully, win his way to her bed. Referring to h... Read More
Act 4, Scene 3 Act 4, Scene 3 begins with First Lord Dumaine and Second Lord Dumaine discussing what they have learned of Bertram's beh... Read More
Act 4, Scenes 4–5 Helen brings the widow of Florence and Diana up to date on recent events, including the fact she has spread a rumor of... Read More
Act 5, Scenes 1–2 Helen, the widow of Florence, and Diana arrive in Marseilles. Helen sees a gentleman she recognizes from the French co... Read More
Act 5, Scene 3 and Epilogue The scene begins with a surprising conversation between Lafew, the countess, and the king of France. They are once aga... Read More
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