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All's Well That Ends Well
All's Well That Ends Well
by William Shakespeare

All's Well That Ends Well Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Initial Situation

Helen and Bertram sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G? Yeah, not so much.

Helen's got it bad for Bertram and she'll do anything to get him (like cure the king of France's gross skin disease for a chance to choose any husband she wants). The problem is that Bertram's not into Helen. At all.

Conflict

The King orders Bertram to marry Helen, or else. Then Bertram runs away to Italy.

So, not only does Helen not get a honeymoon, her man also runs away from her and says he's not going to act like a husband until two conditions are met: (a) She has to get pregnant with his baby and (2) She has to get the ring off his finger. Things aren't looking very good for Helen.

Complication

Bertram starts hooking up with every Italian virgin in sight (off stage, of course).

Bertram's behavior doesn't exactly lend itself to a happy, healthy marriage, now does it? Especially when he sets out to seduce a young woman named Diana. What is Helen supposed to do now?

Climax

Bed Trick!

The climactic moment (no pun intended) in the play is when Helen and Diana pull the old sexual partner switcheroo. Bertram thinks he's going to bed with Diana, but Helen takes her place in the dark room instead. Helen not only manages to consummate her marriage but she also gets pregnant with Bertram's child. Plus, Diana gets the ring off Bertram's finger and gives it to Helen.

Suspense

Everyone thinks Helen is dead. Bertram looks suspicious.

The king of France suspects Bertram may have murdered Helen when he shows up wearing a ring that used to belong to her. Plus, Diana shows up and accuses Bertram of making a lot of promises he hasn't kept. It looks like Bertram is going to prison...

Denouement

Bertram finds out he's a baby daddy.

When Helen shows up, she whips out Bertram's ring and points to the baby growing in her belly. His response is a little shocking – he promises to love Helen "ever ever dearly."

Conclusion

Diana is set to star in the next season of Shakespeare's version of The Bachelorette.

Nobody questions Bertram's new commitment to Helen, and the king notes that "all seems well." (Um, okay.) Then the king says he's going to let Diana choose a husband, too. Hmm. Shouldn't someone remind the king of what happened the last time he played that game?

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