All's Well That Ends Well
Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
But follows it, my lord, to bring me down
Must answer for your raising? I know her well:
She had her breeding at my father's charge.
A poor physician's daughter my wife! Disdain
Rather corrupt me ever! (2.3.3)
Bertram is a snob who doesn't want to marry Helen because she's a "poor physician's daughter" and her lowly social status could "bring [him] down." Although we can understand why Bertram doesn't want to marry a girl he's not in love with, this is where he begins to lose sympathy points.
'Tis only title thou disdain'st in her, the which
I can build up.
What should be said?
If thou canst like this creature as a maid,
I can create the rest: virtue and she
Is her own dower; honour and wealth from me. (2.3.7)
This is where the king of France promises to make Helen rich and elevate her social status so Bertram can feel good about marrying her. The king also says that Helen has something even better going for her: she's full of "virtue" (she's a good person and also a virgin). The funny thing is, Bertram still doesn't want her.
Sir, I can nothing say,
But that I am your most obedient servant.
Come, come, no more of that.
And ever shall
With true observance seek to eke out that
Wherein toward me my homely stars have fail'd
To equal my great fortune. (3.1.2)
Even after she's married, Helen portrays herself as being unworthy of Bertram's love and affection. Notice the way she uses the word "servant" to suggest that she's an obedient wife who's willing to serve her husband. This word is also a reminder that Helen comes from a lower social class than Bertram. In other words, Helen is being a martyr here and Bertram knows it.