All's Well That Ends Well
Lies and Deceit Theme
Deception and mystery are all over in All's Well That Ends Well. The play is full of riddles to be solved (like the king's strange illness, Helen's supposed death, and the mystery of the two rings) and just about every character participates in some form of deceit (like the bed trick and the prank played on Paroles). In fact, the entire plot of All's Well hinges on the characters' abilities to solve puzzles and/or uncover deception. What's the overall effect of this? Well, it suggests that life itself is much like an elaborate plot or some kind of game to be played. And what if things end well for some players and not for others? Well, that's just life.
Questions About Lies and Deceit
- Explain how Helen and Diana pull off their bed trick.
- Is it even possible that a guy like Bertram could be fooled into sleeping with the wrong woman? Why or why not?
- Why do Bertram and his friends play a prank on Paroles? What does the elaborate trick reveal about Paroles' character?
- Some characters (like Paroles and Bertram) are punished for being deceptive, but others (like Helen) seem to get off scot-free. Why do you think that is?
Chew on This
Because Helen's deception is geared toward securing her marriage, she escapes punishment in this play.
Although the bed trick seems completely implausible, it's successful because it pokes fun at the way some people don't discern between sexual partners.