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Themes

According to the rules and conventions of Shakespearean comedy, holy matrimony is what's supposed to make everything turn out well in the end. But in <em>All's Well That Ends Well</em>, a man is forced into an unwanted marriage, and, feeling trapped, he runs away from his wife. By the time the play runs its course and the couple is finally reunited, we have a hard time believing that either spouse will ever enjoy wedded bliss. <em>All's Well That Ends Well</em> uses marriage as a vehicle to explore the limits of its own genre and also to question whether or not marriage is the be-all-end-all of social harmony.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Why does Lavatch say he wants to get married?
  2. Describe Bertram's response to his forced marriage to Helen.
  3. Do you believe Bertram when he promises to love Helen "ever dearly" at the end of the play? Why or why not?
  4. Why do you think all of the members of the older generation are single?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In All's Well, marriage is portrayed as an institution that shackles men and women in unhappy relationships.
         
When the King promises to let Diana choose a husband in the final act, the play threatens to repeat the same mistakes that have already been made.

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