All's Well That Ends Well
How we cite our quotes:
Those girls of Italy, take heed of them:
They say, our French lack language to deny,
If they demand: beware of being captives,
Before you serve. (2.1.3)
Before his young noblemen run off to join the foreign war, the king of France warns them to watch out for those dangerous "girls of Italy." This is weird, right? Especially given that we never see any Italian women trying to seduce French men. (It's actually the other way around.) So, what's going on here? Shakespeare scholar Harold Bloom thinks this passage could be evidence that the king may have picked up an STD from an Italian woman and that the STD may have led to his mysterious illness. There's no direct evidence in the play for this but it's an interesting theory, don't you think?
Ay, so you serve us
Till we serve you; but when you have our roses,
You barely leave our thorns to prick ourselves
And mock us with our bareness. (4.2.4)
Here, Diana uses a common metaphor to describe the loss of female virginity. She suggests that her virginity is like a rose to be plucked by men like Bertram, who, more often than not, turn out to be love-'em-and- leave-'em kinds of guys. We see something similar in Hamlet, when Laertes compares a guy having sex with a virgin to a "canker" worm invading a delicate flower before its buds, or "buttons," have had time to open (Hamlet, 1.3.3).
When midnight comes, knock at my chamber-window:
I'll order take my mother shall not hear.
Now will I charge you in the band of truth,
When you have conquer'd my yet maiden bed,
Remain there but an hour, nor speak to me:
My reasons are most strong; and you shall know them
When back again this ring shall be deliver'd: (4.2.9)
This is where Diana agrees to sleep with Paroles. Go to "Symbols" and we'll tell you all about the big bed trick that she and Helen pull off.