All's Well That Ends Well
How we cite our quotes:
O, were that all! I think not on my father;
And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for him. What was he like?
I have forgot him: my imagination
Carries no favour in't but Bertram's.
I am undone: there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. (1.1.2)
Now this is interesting. In another passage (1.1.6), the countess tells us that Helen's unhappiness stems from the loss of her father. But here, Helen confesses that she "forgot him" because she's in love with Bertram. Helen's grief over her dad's death is replaced by her sadness and longing for Bertram, her future husband. Family relationships don't seem to be a major source of happiness for characters in this play, do they?
The Count Roussillon cannot be my brother:
I am from humble, he from honour'd 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. (1.3.22)
Helen is completely grossed out when the countess says that she is her mother. Since Helen is in love with the countess's son, just the thought of Bertram being her brother is enough to make her flip out. Can you blame her? This passage also has us thinking that Helen and Bertram's relationship has probably been very similar to a sibling relationship. After all, Helen became the countess's ward after her father died (1.1.5), so both she and Bertram have been raised by the same woman. Does this help explain why Bertram is so disgusted when the King of France orders him to marry Helen? (If so, doesn't he have a right to feel that way?) Keep reading...
I know her well:
She had her breeding at my father's charge.
A poor physician's daughter my wife! Disdain
Rather corrupt me ever! (2.3.3)
In the last passage, we wondered if Bertram doesn't want to marry Helen because he thinks of her as a sister. Here, Bertram says "I know her well," which suggests that Bertram does feel anxious about being hitched to someone who was raised by his parents and with whom he grew up. On the other hand, we could also argue that Bertram is more concerned about Helen's lowly social status bringing him down, which makes it hard for us to feel sorry for him.