All's Well That Ends Well
Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Use a more spacious ceremony to the
noble lords; you have restrained yourself within the
list of too cold an adieu: be more expressive to
them: for they wear themselves in the cap of the
time, there do muster true gait, eat, speak, and
move under the influence of the most received star;
and though the devil lead the measure, such are to
be followed: after them, and take a more dilated farewell. (2.1.7)
This is kind of an odd moment: Paroles is giving social advice to Bertram, who's a count (a.k.a. a nobleman who outranks Paroles in every way). The thing about Paroles is that he's kind of a poser. As we can see, he thinks of himself as an expert on how to fit in at court, but the reality is that nobody (except for Bertram) respects him. By the end of the play, he's put in his place, so to speak, when he loses all his friends and becomes a beggar.
Your lord and master did well to make his
Recantation! My lord! my master!
Ay; is it not a language I speak?
A most harsh one, and not to be understood without
bloody succeeding. My master!
Are you companion to the Count Roussillon?
To any count, to all counts, to what is man.
To what is count's man: count's master is of
You are too old, sir; let it satisfy you, you are too old.
I must tell thee, sirrah, I write man; to which
title age cannot bring thee. (2.3.20)
When Lafeu refers to Bertram as Paroles' "lord and master," he means it as an insult; and Paroles is definitely offended. Like we've said, Bertram obviously outranks him, but Paroles acts like it's the other way around, which is what bothers Lafeu. Apparently, in this play it's okay to be poor and low ranking (like Helen), but it's not okay to pass yourself off as something you're not.
Then shalt thou give me with thy kingly hand
What husband in thy power I will command:
Exempted be from me the arrogance
To choose from forth the royal blood of France,
My low and humble name to propagate
With any branch or image of thy state;
But such a one, thy vassal, whom I know
Is free for me to ask, thee to bestow. (2.1.8)
This is where Helen makes a deal with the king: if she can cure him, then he has to let her choose any husband she wants. What's weird is that Helen promises that she won't try to choose a guy with "royal blood." In other words, Helen thinks she's not good enough to "propagate" (have babies with) a member of the royal family. (The idea is that she wouldn't want to contaminate the royal family tree with her "humble name.") We also notice that the king doesn't exactly argue with her. Does he think she's good enough to marry one of his noblemen but that she isn't exactly royal marriage material?