All's Well That Ends Well
How we cite our quotes:
Man is enemy to virginity: how may we barri-
cado it against him? (1.1.5)
Helen and Paroles take the battle of the sexes concept to a whole new level, don't you think? Here, Helen suggests that men and women are at war and that young women have to protect ("barricado") their virginity from guys like Paroles.
'Among nine bad if one be good,
Among nine bad if one be good,
There's yet one good in ten.' (1.3.11)
Shakespeare's comedies are notorious for characters who run around accusing women of being promiscuous. Here, Lavatch sings that nine out of ten women can't be trusted to be faithful to their partners. But does the play support this idea? Not really. There aren't any she-cheaters in All's Well. In fact, its men like Bertram who seem to have trouble with fidelity.
How shall they credit
A poor, unlearned virgin (1.3.31)
When Helen says she thinks she can cure the king's mysteriously untreatable illness, the countess doubts anyone will take Helen seriously because she's just a "poor, unlearned virgin." Translation: Helen has little formal education and no medical training (because she's a girl). So what the heck does being an "unlearned virgin" have to do with anything? Well, the countess reminds Helen that she's never had sex and, therefore, has zero knowledge of the male body.